If you have had an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or other substances and are now clean and sober, congratulations! That is a major accomplishment. You’ve proven that you are able to make a big change in your life and to sustain it over time. Whether you’ve been clean and sober for months, years, or decades, there’s always opportunity for more growth and fulfillment. How do you achieve meaning, value, and success beyond addiction recovery? Here are five steps to help you have an even better life in recovery than what you have now.
1 Review your major life areas.
First, look at where and how you spend your time and energy. Some areas to consider are family, work, community, health, financial, and spiritual. Is your life balanced? If not, what needs to change for your life to be more balanced? Is there something missing in your current life? A great way to get a snapshot of your life to is with a wheel of life. Here is an example of a wheel of life.
2 Decide what you would like to be different.
As you take an inventory of your life the way it is now, what stands out for you in terms of what you would like to change? In other words, how would you like your life to be different?
3 Create your goals.
Create goals for yourself that reflect the change you would like to see. Consider SMART goals – they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Here is a good article on setting SMART goals. Basically, be as clear as you can about what you want to accomplish, decide on how you can measure your progress, and set a deadline for yourself.
4 Identify challenges that will impact achievement of your goals.
What are the challenges that need to be addressed for you to reach your goal? What might hold you back? Are you missing a skill, finances, information, money? What can you do about the challenges you face?
5 Identify resources that will help you achieve your goals.
Also determine what you can use to increase your chances of success in achieving the goals. What personal strengths and skills do you have that will help you achieve your goal? What people, tools, and organizations can you access to improve your chances of success?
6 Figure out possible steps to help you achieve what is important to you in your life.
Now that you have an idea of your goal and the resources and challenges, it’s time to brainstorm all possible steps and tasks that will help you reach your goal, access resources, and address challenges. Don’t worry about putting them in any particular order right now. Just list everything that you can think of as it comes to mind.
7 Make a decision to act.
Figure out when you will begin to make the changes you want to make. Today? Next week? Set a start date. Review the list of all possible steps and determine the first three steps you will take as well as the resources you will use while taking those three steps. Decide to take that first step on your start date. Maybe even decide on an actual time for that date. Mark your calendar. Then, put the next two steps in your calendar. As time goes on, continue to review your list of possible steps and figure out how and when to fit them into your action plan.
8 Review your progress and course correct as needed.
Every so often, check in with yourself to determine whether you are making the progress you had hoped and whether your goal still seems desirable. One method to continually review progress and make necessary changes is to use the PDCA, which stands for Plan, Do, Check, and Adjust. As you implement your plan, check on how it is working, then make adjustments, if needed, to keep you headed in the right direction.
If you are struggling to determine your goal or make progress, consider working with a coach. We specialize in goal setting. Doing something new or different often does not come easily. Be patient and kind to yourself as you create an even greater life beyond recovery. May your life in recovery know no bounds!
Note: This blog also is posted at soberrecovery.com.