Have you heard of Zig Ziglar? That’s quite a name isn’t it?
Ziglar’s parents didn’t come up with the memorable name. In fact, they gave him the much less notable name of Hilary Hinton Ziglar. But Hilary no doubt felt he might make more of an impression on folks if his name packed a bit more of a punch. So, Zig Ziglar became his professional persona during his career as an author, salesman, and motivational speaker.
We mention ol’ Zig because he was deeply invested in figuring out what people needed to do to find success in their own lives. He was a believer in the power of goal-setting. Among his many, many encouraging aphorisms is this gem about setting goals: A goal properly set is halfway reached.
It’s so easy to think of goals as lofty, unachievable dreams that we will never accomplish. In this formulation, it is possible to mistakenly conflate goals and daydreams.
But Ziglar knew better, and his notion of a goal “properly set” is extremely helpful—especially if you are a person in recovery from a substance use disorder who needs to set achievable goals for maintaining your hard won sobriety.
What Does It Mean to ‘Properly Set’ Recovery Goals?
Writing in Psychology Today, David Susman, Ph.D. suggests there are five questions people in recovery should ask themselves as they seek to set their goals:
- What are my overall goals?
- What specific areas do I want to improve?
- Which goals are most vital for my health?
- Why are these goals important to me?
- Are these goals realistic?
Each of these questions is important, and moving from one to the next can help you zero in on what you most want and need to achieve to protect and build upon your recovery from a substance use disorder.
Checking Our Motives
For our purposes here, we want to focus on the last two questions: Why are these goals important to me, and are these goals realistic?
Susman points out that sometimes we set goals for the wrong reasons. He writes:
If…you conclude you are working on these goals to please someone else or to get somebody off your back, you may need to consider whether you should set them aside for now and focus on the goals that you strongly agree can change your life for the better.
Being able to “strongly agree” that your goal can make your life better is important. The power of an internal motivation—doing something because it is truly important to you—is often more powerful than an external motivation that is all about pleasing someone else. Setting your recovery goals so that they are specifically about you and your needs is not selfish. Quite the contrary. Setting goals that resonate with you makes it more likely that you will achieve them.
Speaking of achieving your goals, Susman hits on Ziglar’s idea of the “properly set” goal when he encourages us to ask whether our goals are realistic. As we have noted, goals are not daydreams. Your goals may be challenging to achieve, but they should not be impossible. Setting challenging goals can be motivating. Setting impossible goals is just demoralizing.
Set Your Recovery Goals Correctly, & You Are Halfway to Success
It is easy to focus on the first part of Ziglar’s quote—the part about “properly set” goals—and perhaps miss the amazing thing he says at the end of the quote. He notes that a properly set goal is already halfway reached.
This is an amazing idea. So often, we think of our goals as things we are slogging our way toward. We may feel our goals are realistic, but that doesn’t mean we think we will achieve them anytime soon. In fact, we may use the difficulty as an excuse for not working toward them enthusiastically.
But Ziglar suggests something much more powerful and encouraging: if we set our goals correctly, we are already halfway down the road to achieving them. And as long as we have already come so far, we might as well stick to it and achieve those recovery goals, right?
Our Goal Is to Help You Get & Stay Sober
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we have an important goal: helping you (or your loved one) overcome a substance use disorder and start a life of lasting sobriety. And while you might have doubts about the effectiveness of treatment, we can assure you that our goal is something we are truly passionate about and is entirely achievable. Our personalized, compassionate, evidence-based approach to detox and rehab ensures that you will get the tools, resources, and strategies you need to set—and achieve—your own goals along the road to long-term recovery.
We’ll leave you with one more quote from Mr. Ziglar—an idea that animates our work:
Goals enable you to do more for yourself and others, too.