Make it stick.
It is January 1, 2019 and many of us are feeling tired, bloated, and lackluster. We have spent the last 3 months celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, which have led to extreme indulgence. In my little family we are addicted to those killer Ghirardelli Peppermint Dark Chocolate squares and thankfully we polished off the last square before midnight last night. For many people, New Years Eve is the last day of indulgence before starting off a brand new year with new goals and healthier living. At the strike of Midnight, many people write a list of New Years Resolutions. A resolution is a promise you make to yourself to do or to not do something. According to a commonly cited statistic, only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. How do you make it stick?
I made a sudden and random resolution in April 2018 to quit drinking for one full year. The impulse just came to me while I was driving back from a trip to California. The desire was so strong that I didn’t even care that it was April and not January. I made a 2018 resolution and I was determined to stick to it! This is the kind of resolution that many people would consider overly ambitious, restrictive, and impulsive. This is the kind of resolution that could fade quickly when one realizes how difficult it is to keep.
If 92% of resolutions fail, how do the 8% succeed?
I think resolutions are more likely to be successful when you start with a powerful “why” backed up with passion, drive, grit, and perseverance. This makes your goal relevant. When I first made my resolution, I described my “why” in my post titled I Got This. I clearly defined my intention (the direction I was moving) because I wanted to, not because I had to, or because anyone else told me to.
Successful resolutions follow the SMART goal format (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound). When I got started 251 days ago, I publicly defined my goal in my post titled I am willing and I am purging. As part of defining my goal, I track my progress on my Daily Habit Tracker, I use my blog as a tool to keep me publicly accountable, I look for drink replacements along the way, I celebrate small wins, and I reward myself.
You’ll give yourself your best shot at success if you set a goal that’s doable
All components of SMART goals are important to success, but I think ensuring that your goal is achievable is extremely important. A couple of days ago a friend sent me a link to an article written by James Fell at greatest.com. The article describes how Mr. Fell set a similar goal to mine, and abstained from alcohol for one full year essentially as a way to hit the reset button. He felt that his consumption level was too high in comparison to the other healthy choices he was making in life such as exercising and eating well. After abstaining for a year and essentially giving his body time to reset, he chose to consume alcohol again. He chose to drink alcohol again because from the beginning he always intended to.
The moment James Fell made the decision to abstain or a full year was so powerful that the cutting out the alcohol for a year actually seemed effortless. His positive experience gave him confidence that when he returned to drinking that it would be occasional and much lighter because he had effectively changed his habits.
When he publically wrote about his choice to drink again after abstaining, he received a lot of feedback. Most of the people messaging him were telling him he should never drink again because he may fall down the rabbit hole of bad drinking habits again. He agreed this is true for clinical alcoholics, but he respectively disagreed to the all-or-nothing concept in regards to himself.
Mr. Fell admitted that if he set up his yearlong goal knowing that the expectation were to never drink again, he would never have abstained in the first place. He viewed his period of abstinence as “reboot” of sorts. He didn’t feel guilty when he returned to drinking because he was confident that his lifestyle had permanently changed for the better.
All-or-nothing goals which are based on unrealistic expectations and don’t leave any wiggle room are a set up for failure.
I think that in order to set a realistic goal, you have to do some soul-searching and weigh the effort and time the goal will have on other obligations and priorities in your life. Do you have the skills you need to achieve the goal? Do you have the resources to help you or can you find the resources you need? What is your objective and will the goal really achieve that? My key objectives for my 365-day goal is to ultimately feel healthier physically and mentally, strengthen my kidneys, and establish new/alternative routines in my life. I know I needed to change my alcohol consumption level to achieve those objectives but I never intended to eliminate alcohol from my life forever. If I went into this resolution with the mentality that I will never be able to have a cocktail again, I for sure would fail. I had to approach this goal with the mentality that I am going to change my habits for the better so that I can make the choice when I want to.
I chose that title “Booze Snooze” for my year long goal because it indicates that I did not have the intention on quitting forever. Snooze means a small short break, a pause. The word “snooze” indicates that I have the option to return to drinking someday. But like a long good nap AKA “snooze” you typically feel better right? You are more productive and ready to tackle the day/week/month.