Setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals in Recovery

Published March 5, 2021 by:

What Are S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals?

Addiction can alter the decision-making part of the brain. For this reason, many people in recovery must relearn techniques to set goals and achieve them. An easy way to form and achieve goals is through the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal setting method.

“S” in S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals is for Specific

Right off the bat, your goal needs to be specific. Specificity, the “S” in your S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal, provides and clear and concise definition of your goals, eliminating the possibility of confusion. Clarity allows an unwavering mental picture of your goal, simplifying the path to success.

In order to make a specific goal, begin by asking yourself,

  • What do I want?
  • Do I need help?
  • Are there any challenges I will face?
  • How do I achieve it?

Once you have answered these questions, you should have a clear idea of what your goal is, and how to successfully accomplish the objective.

“M” is for Meaningful

The next step to creating a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal is finding meaning. Goals that are meaningful inspire you to complete them because they are important to you. Finding the meaning of your goal is essentially the “why” in goal setting. In fact, building a goal off of a personal value associates your success with self-pride and accomplishment, making it easier to complete. 

Finding the meaning behind your goal can be done by asking,

  • Does this benefit my happiness?
  • Will this benefit my freedom?
  • Does this benefit my productivity?
  • Will this benefit my security?
  • Does this benefit my family?
  • Will this benefit my health? 

Write out the values you find most important. After, express how achieving this goal will benefit those parts of your life.

“A” is for Achievable

Another important part of S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal setting is whether or not your goal is achievable. Creating unachievable goals for yourself is not only unfair but also discourages you from forming new goals in the future. If your goal is not feasible, it probably needs to be set aside for another time, or consider extending the time period in which you accomplish it. While we like to daydream about larger-than-life success, we often forget the time it takes to achieve those goals. It’s important to make your goals large enough to inspire action, but not so big that you become overwhelmed and freeze.

Ask yourself if your goals are achievable,

  • Am I setting unrealistic expectations for myself?
  • Is there a more reasonable goal I could replace this with?
  • Have I completed a similar goal, but in a longer time frame?

Once you’ve decided on the validity of your goal, you can begin to strive for success. 

“R” is for Relevant

Another part of S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal setting is ensuring that your goal is relevant. In order to receive satisfaction for achieving a goal, your goal must be relevant to your end-goal for happiness. Additionally, every goal should have a reason behind it. For this reason, smaller goals should help in achieving larger goals, and larger goals should aid in achieving your ultimate end-goal.

  • Does this align with my other goals?
  • Is this counterproductive to my end goal?
  • Is this necessary to achieve my end goal?

“T” is for Time

The “T” in S.MA.R.T.E.R. goal setting stands for the time limits you assign to goals. For this reason, each of your goals should come with a deadline. A goal without a time restriction lacks the motivation of the ticking clock, making it harder to accomplish. On the other hand, deadlines keep you attentive and excited to meet your goal. In fact, you can create a timeline of deadlines for smaller goals that build up to larger goals. Timelines can provide a physical reminder of the progress you’ve made.

  • What is my deadline for this?
  • What happens if I miss a deadline?
  • Would a timeline help motivate me?
  • What can I achieve in 3 months? 6 months? A year?

“E” is for Evaluate

The penultimate way to organize with S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal setting is to evaluate your goal. Instead of suffering through an unachievable goal, or missing a deadline for completion, constantly evaluate the legitimacy of your S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal. 

“R” in S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals is for Re-adjust

The final step of S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal setting works in tandem with evaluation— learn to re-adjust your goals if you find that your current organization isn’t working. Hitting a wall is never fun, and most of us dislike admitting defeat. So don’t! Just adjust your benchmark for success and tweak the parts of your goal that lack efficiency. You never have to give up on your goals, you simply need to figure out the best way for you to achieve them!