Certainly for anyone that has succumbed to alcohol and/or drug addiction, successfully exiting the treatment phase is a cause for feeling that you have made the first major step in the recovery process. Anyone making it to this juncture realizes that there are different challenges that lie ahead because the recovery process is a lifelong one. Although these challenges can be myriad as you learn to live your life free of the substances that trapped you, many are centered around your ability to stay focused and motivated. Here are some of the ways in which you can accomplish this new phase of your renewed life that is set before you.
One of the essential ways to stay focused and motivated post-treatment is to adopt a long-term recovery plan. This is essentially about setting new goals, both short term and long term for your life along with the plans on how to get there. It should also contain plans for improving the personal and professional relationships in your life as well as learning how to better manage your time.
It may seem daunting when laid out in such broad strokes, but the reality is that this plan does not have to be highly detailed to keep you focused as you move forward in your recovery. For many, counseling is an important aspect of dealing with the underlying emotional problems that led to the addiction. Regularly seeing and working with a licensed counselor can prove to be a big way to connect the dots for your plan and work through any emotional issues that might hold you back.
When it comes to setting goals, they should be clear and rewarding. Counseling can help to discern which goals are best for long-term pursuits and which can be accomplished in the near term. The intent is to be sure that the goals are not too hard or too easy. Basically, some of the short-term goals should be comprised of ordinary everyday things that you’ve left behind due to your time under the influence of addiction.
Getting into these routines adds a degree of normalcy and routine for your life that keep you on track while providing a motivating boost when you are able to reintegrate them into your life. This can run the gamut of having a morning routine, a weekly routine and an evening routine as well as weekend activities.
Having too much idle time is counterproductive to staying focused and motivated, but it can be just as detrimental to your recovery to fill your days and nights with tasks without breaks and enjoyable leisure activities. That can include social time with substance-free co-workers, friends, and family as well as hobbies and recreation.
Exercise is a good short and long-term goal that helps the mind, body and soul. Short-term goals in this regard could be jogging, biking or low impact exercise workouts several times a week for variety and to keep it more interesting. Long-term aspects could include losing weight, strengthening your muscles or increasing your lung capacity.
Long-term goals can be broken down into small steps such as getting a job or returning to the workforce if you have a profession that you desire to continue as part of your new substance-free life. If you’re starting out fresh with such a long-term goal, it may start with education or vocational training. The important thing to remember with short-term as well as long-term goals is to make sure that they are rewarding for you and that they help you to stay away from the substances that first caused your life-altering addiction.
Making Good Decisions
It may seem counterintuitive to include this, but good decisions don’t just happen, especially when your life has changed so much from pre to post addiction. This is mostly about learning to feel comfortable with getting advice support from friends, family members and counselors when you have to make any significant decisions. This can be about setting your goals or ways to handle tough situations that you repeatedly encounter or may have on the horizon.
You can also think situations through on paper by making a kind of decision map. To do this, take a situation you often face that lead to stress and write it out. Then, think through the wrong ways in which you once reacted to these instances as well as the best way to react to these instances.
Then, add the likely consequences of the old way of responding and the new way of responding. By writing them down you can see where bad decisions once led and where the new good decisions can lead so that you can begin putting them into practice.
Time management is an important aspect of staying focused and motivated after treatment because being in recovery means always moving forward. To move forward, you need to think differently about time. For someone in recovery, this means learning how to mark time by the clock and the calendar rather than the times and occasions that you indulged in substance abuse before treatment.
It can be helpful to have a calendar that becomes a part of your recovery plan. This allows you to fill it in with goals and ways to use your free time. Ultimately this will help you to avoid problems that can lead to stress or create unproductive gaps that can be engulfed by negative emotions.
The goal of all of this is not to fill and script every minute of your life, but to have a general plan for each day with that is anchored by routines and small accomplishments and joys. This not only paves the road to staying focused and motivated, but helps you to relearn how to enjoy life, loved ones, friends, and positive experiences as a renewed and whole person.