Actionable Tips For Starting The New Year The S.M.A.R.T Way

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You survived the madness of the holiday season, and you did it all sober. As winter settles in, you may start thinking about how to tackle the rest of the year. Utilizing SMART Recovery tools is a great way to kickstart 2020, stay focused, and maintain your commitment to your sobriety without feeling overwhelmed. SMART’s basic tenants include empowering individuals to gain independence from addiction through specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals. The following tips will help you take these tools and easily apply them in actionable ways to achieve a healthy, productive, and positive New Year in recovery.


Setting goals, sounds easy right? It can be, but only if you do it strategically. Targeting specific goals, writing each one down, and keeping track of them will help you stay focused and sober in the year ahead. A targeted goal could be “I’m going to attend a 12-Step meeting every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evening” instead of “I’ll go to several meetings a month.” Plug specific goals into a calendar, your phone, SmartWatch, planner, or in a journal. This strategy keeps things streamlined and simple and can be helpful in all areas of your life.


  • Keep track of specific goals using free organizational apps like iCalendar or Evernote or customizable apps like GoalsOnTrack (based on SMART goals). Applications like these and many others can be handy in keeping you organized.
  • Using apps like I Am Sober will help keep you focused on your goals in recovery, build healthier habits, and encourage accountability by joining a community. 


You’ve set and organized your goals, but are you achieving them? Making sure that your objectives can be measured will set you up for success. Let’s say you want to start a fitness routine this year. It’s much easier to set small goals and then track your progress. Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight and start exercising” try “I’ll add vegetables to my dinner plate and take a walk three times a week.” Next, it’s time to measure this objective. Below are some suggestions on how to track any goal, including exercise and wellness.


  • Habit tracking apps like Strides and Coach.Me measure anything and everything from diet and productivity to habits, addiction recovery, and personal growth. These apps use charts and reminders to measure your progress, track your success, and are available on most devices. 
  • Health apps, like Apple’s Health, are a great way to monitor your fitness, sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness goals, and they are already available on most cell phones. 
  • Fitness trackers and wearables are also effective tools at measuring your activity in real-time and keep all of your health goals in one place. 


Make sure that any goal you set for yourself is achievable. Creating lofty ambitions, including those in recovery, can be very discouraging. Setting attainable, bite-sized goals can help you follow the plan you organized for yourself. For example, maybe you need to de-stress and want to take steps to simplify your home life this year. Taking achievable actions such as cleaning and organizing one closet or even one drawer can bring you one step closer to reducing the things that add stress to your life. 


  1. Make columns of people, events, or things that are not adding value to your life. 
  2. Take one column at a time and slowly find ways to reduce or get rid of this dead weight over the new year. Old photos of your partying days? Rip them up. Lost weight since recovery? Donate your old clothes to a worthy cause. 
  3. As you release these things, check them off the list. Even if you eliminate 10% of these stressors, you’ll begin to notice a big difference over time.


Before setting your goals for the new year, ask yourself if it’s realistic or not. Be incredibly honest with yourself and set realistic expectations about your new life in sobriety. This will help keep you on track. Ask the following questions to determine if a goal is doable:

  • “Do I have the money, time, or resources to achieve this task?” 
  • “Will these goals cause more or less stress or will they bring value to my life?” 
  • “Will taking this action help or hinder my recovery process?” 


Time-based goals lock-in objectives in a specific time-frame. This action is essential in keeping you accountable and preventing you from pushing goals back. For example, if you want to start meditating, set your phone reminder, meditating app, or even a simple post-it-note on your bathroom mirror for a certain time, every day, to start engaging in your practice.  

Using these SMART techniques can help you in achieving your goals and set you up for success in the new year. And remember, if you feel you need additional help in keeping on track during recovery or are struggling with your sobriety, Silver Lining Recovery is always here to help. We offer several different post-rehab services, including SMART Recovery, 12-Step programs, and a variety of counseling services as well as our affordable outpatient services for those who feel they have a substance use disorder or addiction. Knowing that there is always help will hopefully encourage you or a loved one to get the necessary services and support needed to live a full and healthy life in sobriety. Call Silver Lining Recovery today at 1-833-8GROWTH to get started.