It’s February, and for many of us the new year’s resolutions are long forgotten along with the Christmas decorations and the time off work. We start out with such good intentions, so why is it so hard to make our goals stick?
Join me on my journey to an alcohol-free Feb, and I will share valuable tips along the way to help you reach your health-related goals.
Whether you’re aiming to go alcohol-free like me, lose weight, improve fitness, drink more water, quit smoking, or anything else, the GoalGetters process can help you.
It’s easy to think there’s no need for planning for behavioural change. It’s not a project with easily identifiable steps to take you towards your goal. To go alcohol-free, I just need to not drink, right?
Maybe. But it’s this lack of planning that sets many of us up to fail.
Imagine this scenario. I’ve made a decision not to drink. It’s the end of a tough week at work. My friend is celebrating their birthday, and everyone is drinking. I try to keep my resolve, but it’s easy to succumb to ‘just one won’t hurt’, ‘I’ll start again tomorrow’, or ‘it’d be rude not to’.
Now imagine the same scenario, with a plan in place. I’ve taken some time to reflect on the reasons why I don’t want to drink, which boosts my motivation. I go for a run to de-stress before hitting the party. I take an enjoyable non-alcoholic drink, and I focus on having fun that I can remember and coherent conversations. I can drive home if I want to, and enjoy a restful night’s sleep with no hangover the next day.
Just a little bit of planning has transformed the evening from resenting my goal and maybe failing at it, to enjoying all the positives.
So how do you plan for behavioural change?
Start with why
Why do you want to change? Some behaviours may be damaging health or relationships (disclaimer – if you have an addiction, please seek professional advice). For me, it is just a case of Christmas followed by summer holidays leading to overindulgence. I need to re-set.
To boost my motivation, I’d focus on the health benefits, my fitness level (I’m struggling to get back into running), my relationships and the cost of alcohol.
For more information on finding your why, check out the article – what’s your why?
Make it SMART
Making your goals SMART forms the basis of your plan. For more info on SMART goals, check out this article.
Specific – When setting my goal, I weighed up the pros and cons of stopping drinking vs moderation, and my timeframe – was I stopping for good or just for February? I decided to stop completely for February, and I’ll review after that.
Measurable – Look back to your why to determine what you are trying to achieve, and therefore what you’ll measure. The two that are easiest to measure for me are fitness and cost.
Attainable -To check whether your goal is attainable, work on your action plan. You can always revise your goal if you realize that your plan is too ambitious.
Relevant – If you were able to complete the What’s your Why exercise, then your goal is relevant.
Timely – is this the right time? Is there anything else you need to do first?
Develop an action plan
Identify your triggers – when do you drink/smoke/comfort eat? Think about all the different scenarios. When you’re stressed? When you’re happy? First thing in the morning? After work? When you’re tired? It might be useful to keep a diary in the week or days leading up to the change to help identify all of them. For me, I drink to relax, as a reward, to celebrate and to socialise.
Now you have identified the times that you are likely to drink/smoke/eat, you can make a plan for what you will do instead. For example, rather than drinking to relax, I’ll read, watch TV, or get an early night. I’ll reward myself with a nice meal or by buying something new. I’ll enjoy celebrations and socialising by planning my de-stressing and non-alcoholic drinks in advance, and focussing on the positives.
Even with the best plan in place, behavioural change is hard. Be kind to yourself. If you slip up, try again (don’t wait until Monday!). Take some time to review every day and celebrate your progress. I look forward to hearing how you get on – share your journey in the GoalGetters community or on our Facebook page.
If you want to follow my journey and work on your health-related goals, sign up to the mailing list to keep updated.