Whether you’re in the early stages of recovery or undergoing your last few treatments, you’ve probably already started to think about what your life will be like post-rehabilitation.

Thoughts about restarting your career, starting it for the first time, getting an education or going back to school can feel overwhelming, but we’re here to help you work through your future goals.

Perhaps your career or educational path was derailed while you were actively struggling with a substance use disorder, or perhaps you haven’t given it much thought at all yet. That doesn’t mean you can’t get back on track.

Planning for your career or educational future while you’re still in recovery can be a powerful motivational tool, a way to give you some newfound energy, and the willpower to pursue one or both paths.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through how to plan the next steps to take for your future, as well as give you a bonus list of which life skills to focus on developing (or refreshing) in recovery.

The importance of your future

When you were actively struggling with addiction, you may have detached entirely from your career, educational or overall life goals, unconcerned with or numb to what the future might bring. Now that you’re in recovery, you’re probably starting to, perhaps for the first time in a long time, genuinely think about your future and what you want it to look like. 

Your past is a part of your history, but it is not your identity, and it doesn’t have to define your future. Rather than dwelling on what you can’t change, focus on the areas of your life that you can. Maybe you didn’t get to pursue the education or career you’d once dreamed of, or maybe you had already started to pursue your dreams, but the process was derailed by substance abuse. 

Try to think of this time as an opportunity to start fresh. You have the power to build the future you want. Here’s how to plan for this brand-new life.

Prepare to adjust and adapt

Returning to the workforce, college or trade school after recovering may have its challenges, ones that will be easier to face if you’re generally aware of what you can expect.

Maybe it’s all brand new, or maybe you’re returning to a familiar environment with peers who will be curious about where you’ve been. It’s up to you whether you want to respond honestly or keep your recovery journey private.

Depending on how long you’ve been away, there might be relevant skills that you now need to relearn or certain courses or certifications that need to be renewed. 

If you aren’t sure which career path you want to follow, or you’re nervous about investing money and time in a degree program, there might be opportunities to explore your interests before making a commitment. For example, you might explore volunteer opportunities in the field you may be interested in, or reach out to individuals with the specific job you might want on LinkedIn to set up an informational interview and pick their brains about what they do.

Life skills in recovery

Once you know whether you want to return to your previous field, start a new job, finish an incomplete educational program or pursue a new degree or certification, then you can focus on what’s required for the next steps. 

Resume building

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, it’s likely your resume needs a refresh before you start applying for jobs. Resources that may be able to help you craft a resume that best highlights your skills and experience include resume writing services for hire, your college writing center (if you’re a current student or alum) or even career events at your local library. Additionally, online you can find a wealth of free information about what to include on a resume with examples, as well as websites like Canva with easy-to-use templates. 


It’s natural to be nervous before a job interview, but try to think of it as a two-sided conversation in which you’ll learn whether the company and position are the right fit for you as well. Dress for success and prepare thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer beforehand. You might even ask a friend to practice beforehand. Most importantly, be yourself. 

General life skills

In addition, focusing on building the following general life skills in recovery will help make the transition to work or school easier both personally and professionally.

  • Healthy ways to cope with emotions and stress
  • Clear and respectful communication
  • Time management (for example, punctuality and deadlines)
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision making

The final best way to set yourself up for success in your new sobriety is to reach out for assistance when you need it. You’ve learned throughout recovery that there is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it’s an incredibly courageous thing to do.

Reach out for assistance

If you find yourself overwhelmed with the process of going back to school or working towards your previous or new career, reach out for help and guidance.

At Real Recovery, we offer a variety of clinical services to not only restore your sobriety but also empower you to rebuild your life to the fullest.

Restarting your education or career might feel a little intimidating, but it can be an incredibly rewarding and empowering experience. Give yourself permission to take some time to reflect on what time of work or education you genuinely want to go after, and know that we’re here to help you figure it out.

To learn more about how we can help you plan for the future, you can submit a form or give us a call anytime.