Last Updated on December 23, 2021 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Setting, pursuing, and reaching goals we’ve set for ourselves is an important part of life. It’s through goal setting that we grow as individuals and progress as human beings. Life can be lived without setting goals, certainly, but life can be lived much more fully when we incorporate goals into our daily and overall lives. As someone in recovery, you likely have many goals for the future – including, of course, the most important goal of all: staying clean, sober, and healthy for the remainder of your days on this planet. Goals are set to be achieved, but of course that’s the hard part. The setting of goals is simple, and the pursuit of those goals is fun (and challenging) – but the achievement of them is rewarding, life changing, and validating every time. When you set goals and subsequently reach them, you become stronger and more confident in all aspects of living.

While setting goals is great on its own, they aren’t really worth much without at least attempting to reach them – and reaching them requires dedication and focus. In order to stay focused on your long-term goals, check out these tips. They can be applied to your ultimate goal of staying clean and sober, or to any goals you wish to pursue. Together, they are a powerhouse, but not all suggestions will work for every person or every goal, so pick and choose what works best for you.

Tips for Staying Focused on Your Goals

  • Write down your goals. It’s great to have goals that you think about sometimes or even mentally refer to every day, but a goal doesn’t become real until you write it down. Writing down your goals makes it more solid, tangible, and therefore achievable. When you write down your goals, post them somewhere (or in several locations) where you will see them throughout the day. These visual reminders will help to keep you on track and keep you moving forward towards the end results that you desire.
  • Make your goals measurable. Many people make vague goals like “lose weight” or “try hard at work” – but these goals, although made with the right motivation, are not good. They are not useful goals because they are not measurable. Without being able to measure your progress, you won’t know if you are succeeding or failing. You may pat yourself on the back for minmal effort, without really moving towards the final result that you desire. By making your goals measurable – such as “Lose ten pounds by December 1st” or “Complete five work reports by the end of April,” you are making measurable goals. This way, at any time, you can check in with yourself and know whether or not you are on the right track.
  • Avoid distractions. Distractions are the enemy of goals, and unfortunately, we all fall prey to them sometimes. As human beings, we are built to procrastinate and make excuses and we have to be strong to keep ourselves focused on the goals we wish to achieve. The best way to avoid distractions is to recognize them, and accept our weaknesses when presented with them. Then we can teach ourselves methods to overcome them when they arise.
  • Study hard. In order to stay focused on your goals, study! If you want to stay clean and sober for the rest of your life, read everything you can about recovery. If you want to lose weight and get physically fit, attend seminars and workshops to learn about the ways that others have achieved this goal. If you wish to be successful at work, consider taking additional college level courses or other trainings to hone your craft. In doing these things, you will not only learn a great deal about the dream you are pursuing, but you will also stay focused on your goals more easily because they will constantly be at the forefront of your mind.
  • Surround yourself with good people. Negative people will suck the life out of you, so avoid them like the plague. Instead, cultivate relationships with people who will support you in your quest to achieve your goals, and who are working on goals of their own. In doing so, you can tap into the positive, healthy, and motivational energy of these people and feed from it – while providing the same kind of energy to them in exchange. Hang out with people who are the type of person you hope to be, not the type of person you used to be, or are trying not to be like.
  • Exercise. Even if your goals have nothing to do with physical fitness, you can benefit immensely by participating in regular exercise. Exercising has countless benefits that can help you to reach your goals. The endorphins that exercise produces in your brain help you stay positive and energized, and time spent working out can give you long periods of sustained thought about your plans for the future, too.
  • Meditate. Meditation is also quite helpful for anyone working on specific goals they have set for themselves. Sitting quietly and focusing on the breath can help you to become more mindful of everything that surrounds and influences you. This will obviously help you to focus more completely on your goals, and to avoid distractions as they arise.
  • Visualize. Visualization can be a powerful tool when trying to reach your goals. It is most helpful to begin a regular practice where you visualize your desired end result clearly as if it has already been achieved. Picture yourself as you would look and feel at the end of your journey, basking in the fruits of your labors. This will help to keep your drive strong and your motivation clear.
  • Keep your eye on the prize. Constantly remind yourself of why you set your goals and of the end result you ultimately seek. Several tips discussed here already include this within them (visualization, writing down your goals) but it really cannot be stressed enough. When the going gets tough, it’s easy to just give up on your goals, shove them aside, and forget about them. But if you instead think about the reasons you set your goals in the fist place, and why you are pursuing them, you will again be motivated to move forward upon them.

If your goal is to be clean and sober for the rest of your life, remind yourself where you were at your worst. Think about your friends and family who care about you. And most of all, consider the alternative; if you don’t continue to work on your recovery goals from this point forward, where will you be in a few years, or even a few months? Certainly, no place good, That alone should be enough to keep you on the right track, but if it isn’t, there is no time like the present to call your sponsor, meet with your therapist or counselor, or attend a meeting.

Goals are necessary to move forward in life, but in order to set effective goals and actually reach them, consider and then apply these tips moving forward. Consider keeping a diary or journal of your goals and take notes on what methods work most effectively for you personally. With the right mindset, the right tools, and the right support, anything is possible. Just keep moving forward, and don’t give up until you have achieved all that you hope and dream.

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