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Recovery Goal Setting

Chapter 2 Goal Setting for Recovery

Section 3: SEA's Tools for Recovery Lifestyle 
Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous -

The SEA's Program of Recovery
By James J. Messina, Ph.D.

How can personal goal setting be successful?

To be a successful goal setter for recovery from low self‑esteem, you need to:

  • Be ready to change to a healthier, recovered lifestyle.
  • Be ready to accept the short‑term pain, inconvenience, and deprivation to gain health, satisfaction, and high self‑esteem.
  • Be ready to monitor and evaluate how successful you are in lifestyle changes.
  • Be ready to admit the real obstacles to achieving a changed lifestyle.
  • Be ready to give up old habits, old patterns of believing and acting to achieve the new lifestyle of recovery.
  • Be at a proper point of discouragement or dissatisfaction with your current lifestyle to motivate the necessary changes.
  • Recognize that your current lifestyle is so unhealthy that it could lead to illness, disability, or death.
  • Recognize that your current lifestyle is self‑defeating, self‑destructive, and passively suicidal.
  • Be honest with yourself as to why you are seeking this change.
  • Change your lifestyle for yourself only, not for anyone else.
  • Be open to all possibilities, alternatives, or solutions necessary to achieve a healthy lifestyle change.
  • Be willing to accept personal responsibility for all changes (no shifting responsibility to others).
  • Be convinced that your current lifestyle needs a major overhauling or change.
  • Be free to make the changes necessary (not feel constrained due to family, work, or social pressures).
  • Feel supported by your social support system.
  • Work on ridding yourself of the irrational beliefs that block your efforts to change.
  • Develop a rational belief system to support the desire for a healthy change.
  • Be honest in your assessment of how much needs to be changed.
  • Be realistic in assessing the amount of time it will take for the changes to be accomplished. ‑ Be able to take long‑term goals and break them down into short‑term objectives with a greater likelihood of being accomplished in a short time.
  • Be patient, be able to take one day at a time, and celebrate success daily no matter how small.

How can goals be set that will result in a lifestyle change?

In order for successful goals to be set:

  • A personal confrontation must occur in which you admit that you can no longer use excuses, rationalizations, or lies to avoid the fact that your life is unhealthy.
  • You must admit that you need help to change your lifestyle.
  • You must realize that old habits and patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting must be altered radically.
  • You must be willing to do anything to rid yourself of your personal disgust.
  • A social support system must be developed for positive feedback.
  • You must recognize that personal motivation is the only attitude that will keep you in pursuit of the goals.
  • You cannot be dependent on others to keep motivated to change.
  • You must accept 100% of the responsibility for taking the necessary steps to change.
  • Kidding, fooling, fibbing, fabricating, storytelling, rationalizing, and lying must stop.
  • You must accept that without pain there will be no gain.
  • You must admit that a complete lifestyle change is necessary, which includes time management, restructuring, exercise, balanced diet, emotional control, and proper health practices.
  • You must accept that old beliefs and attitudes will be hard to break; lots of support and assistance will be required.
  • You must commit to a program of change and recovery that will take a lot of time to complete.

What beliefs or attitudes can sabotage goal setting?

  • It won't take me long to accomplish these changes.
  • I can do it on my own, and I don't need any social support group, teachers, or helpers to assist me.
  • All I need to do is to read this book to achieve the changes I need in my life.
  • All my problems will be gone once I change this behavior.
  • If I spend enough money, I'll be able to get somebody to do for me what I need to do inorder to change my life.
  • I'm not in as bad a shape as I think I am.
  • Professionals are always out for money, and they only want me to change my lifestyle in order to make money off me.
  • I can change easily and I don't need to do all these other things as long as I'm willing to go to a counselor at regular intervals during my life.
  • I'm healthy. All I am is a little nervous. Why do I need this recovery lifestyle program?
  • I don't have time to be bothered with all of these things.
  • Why worry? I haven't gotten sick yet!
  • All of these changes are too much to do overnight. I'll put this off until I'm older, when the need to change is more important.
  • All of these people who are encouraging recovery and a balanced lifestyle are fanatics. They don't really enjoy life, do they?
  • My family will never put up with these changes in my life.
  • I'll do a little now and a little later on and eventually get to the rest of it after that.
  • All of this requires too much thinking, too much work and effort, and too much of me. Why aren't they helping me more? I pay them enough! They should be doing this for me!
  • It seems so big and impossible to achieve all these things for recovery.
  • I'm lost; where do I begin to change?
What productive goal‑setting tips can help in achieving a recovery lifestyle?
  • Set short‑term goals that can be achieved on a weekly basis; you set yourself up for discouragement by setting only long‑term goals.
  • Set goals at a realistic level of attainment, nothing unrealistic.
  • Set phasing‑in goals, which are small increments of change accomplished over a period of time, until the complete change has been phased into existence; no overnight reformation.
  • Set a realistic time frame to account for the actual time needed to achieve target behavior changes.
  • Set goals that concentrate on behavior changes, not only on growth in self‑esteem.
  • Set goals that you can live with; be honest with yourself.
  • Set goals that are you rather than somebody else; do not imitate other's goals.
  • Set only goals you want to achieve, nothing just to impress someone else.
  • Do not set yourself up for failure by overshooting the mark; avoid using absolute statements like always or never.
  • Set up a system of evaluation to give you immediate feedback; use your support system.
  • Avoid goals that require other people to perform them; you must be your own agent of change in your life.
NOTE: For further information on goal setting, look at the chapter, Developing Patience in Tools For Personal Growth by James J. Messina, Ph.D.