When patients go through treatment for addiction (to alcohol, drugs, compulsive gambling or sex, or overwork, to name a few), they always create an addiction recovery plan and wellness restoration programs that help guide them through their early days of recovery. This is a useful tool for anyone who seeks to change ingrained patterns of addictive behavior.
You need to create new goals. Look at your immediate situation. Do you have any short-term or long-term goals? Or do you just exist day-to-day without any plan, any roadmap for the future? Vague goals like getting ahead, having more money in the bank, and so on, won’t get it. You need something specific, tangible, measurable.
Put down on paper (or create a spreadsheet on the computer) things that you’d like to accomplish in the next six months, one year, five years, and ten years. Does this seem a bit like busywork? It is not, and here is why. Where many people get into trouble is that they have nothing to look forward to. They fall victim to the bad habits they have allowed themselves to become entangled in and never make any progress. They may think about doing something positive down the line, but they never get around to it. Time just slips away until next week becomes next year and nothing ever changes. Where’s the satisfaction in that?
It does not matter what your goals are; just put them down. Keep in mind that nothing is etched in stone. Consider this a living document, one that you revise as new opportunities occur. Be sure to include a mix of goals, too. Make some personal, some professional, some that challenge you intellectually, physically, and emotionally. Include those that will require some stretch in your abilities, your self-confidence, and your comfort zone.
It is imperative that you monitor your progress throughout the process. Now that you have your goals, you need to monitor your progress toward achieving them. Revisit the document on a monthly basis – or sooner, if you have accomplished one or more of the goals you’ve set for yourself. This practice is called tracking. It is useful to help keep you motivated and grounded in what’s important to you.
No matter how big or small it may be, celebrating every win of yours is a great motivator. While we are on the subject of accomplishments, it is important that you take time to celebrate wins. When you master a challenge, reach a goal, advance to the next level, or determine that you’ve now entered a new phase where your horizon has expanded beyond that which you had ever imagined, give yourself kudos. Acknowledge your efforts and celebrate your victory.
Just like receiving presents at Christmas or on special occasions is a reason for high spirits, so, too, is giving thanks and patting yourself on the back for all your hard work in achieving your goals. Be sure to include your spouse or partner (your ally) in your celebration. And, of course, you’ll make your celebration alcohol-free, in line with your new and healthier lifestyle.