I have always loved New Year’s Day. To be clear, I love the IDEA of New Year’s Day. There is something genuinely magical about feeling like you get to start over. As with every year, millions (billions?) of people will be waking up to resolutions and goals, promises made and yet to be kept. You, my friend, are among them. Today is the first day of Dry January 2019.
Depending on your reasons for participating in Dry January, you may be feeling a number of things. Excitement to be on a new journey, trepidation over what the next thirty-one days will be like, fear over whether or not you can actually DO this, or any combination of these things.
My first thirty days of sobriety was a mixed bag, and yours will likely be as well. Whether you’re here because your relationship with alcohol has damaged your life in some way and you want to give sobriety a chance or you’re just interested in going without for a little while, there are going to be challenges in the weeks ahead.
I’m here to help, along with the entire Soberish community.
Whenever you start something new, it’s important to take some time to sit with yourself and pinpoint your “why.” For this entire month, I want you to keep a journal and make today entry #1. Use pen and paper, NOT your computer.
Why you may ask?
Science suggests that the actual act of picking up some pen and paper to write down your goals increases the chances of you accomplishing them. People who wrote down there goals were 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve them. That’s huge! And because I want us all to be successful, it’s what we’re going to do.
Wait, did you say US?
YES, I’m joining Dry January alongside all of you.
But you don’t drink.
I may not drink alcohol anymore, but I do have a problematic liquid vice that is wreaking havoc on my body right now: Diet Pepsi. Ever since I quit drinking alcohol, I’ve been plagued by sugar cravings. There are days when I really question my emotional sobriety because of HOW I consume diet soda.
It’s something I’ve needed to get a handle on for a while, so that’s what I intend to do beginning January 1, 2019 (if not sooner, honestly).
Figuring Out Your “Why”
If you outdid yourself last night, maybe pick up a bottle of Pedialyte and some Tylenol while you’re at it.
I want you to list out every single reason you can think of that made you want to do Dry January this year. If it comes to mind, write it down. Write the little reasons and the bigger, more difficult reasons.
I’ll give a few reasons why I am participating this year:
- I’m consuming way too much diet soda and it’s only getting worse
- It’s becoming expensive
- I’m having digestion issues and stomach pains
- If I don’t have one, I get moody and have headaches
Keep your list going until you run out of ideas. Nobody is going to see this list, so do not second guess anything you put down. If it enters your brain, put it on the paper.
Got it? Good. Let’s move on.
What Do You Hope To Gain From This Experience?
For this activity, I want you to make a little three-column table in your journal. Like this:
When thinking about doing something big like quitting alcohol for 30+ days, it’s important to keep in mind the benefits you hope to receive. This will keep you motivated on the tough days and moments that will inevitably pop up over the course of the month.
I like to use three buckets: Emotional, Physical, and Financial.
Why these three? When it came to my own sobriety, these were the three major impact areas on my life and I think you’ll notice the same.
Examples of emotional benefits may include:
- Not having to deal with difficult conversations from something stupid you said while drinking
- Reduced anxiety
- Fewer mood swings
Examples of physical benefits may include:
- Losing weight
- Not being hungover
- Clearer skin
Examples of financial benefits may include:
- Saving $____ per week
- Not wasting money on a gym membership because you’re too hungover to attend that class you signed up for
- Saving money on drunk takeout ordering
Just like with the previous exercise, write down all the ideas that come to mind. Don’t worry about whether it’s in the right category or if it doesn’t fit into any of them perfectly. The point is to get you thinking about the different ways the next 31 days are going to improve your life.
What Will You Do When You Feel Tempted To Quit?
You need a plan of attack for the moments when you feel like caving. No matter WHY you are doing Dry January, you WILL have moments of weakness or temptation that threaten your goals.
I’ll be providing tips and resources for you, but you’ll need a personalized plan as well. Add them to your notebook.
Questions you can ask yourself to help you think through this:
- Who can I call or message to talk me out of drinking?
- Have I joined the Soberish Facebook Group or other sobriety groups for extra support?
- Are there any events coming up this month that I know will be tempting?
We are going to do more work in the upcoming days around how to manage temptations and difficult emotions when you’re not drinking, but for now, start getting a general idea of what you plan to do when the proverbial devil on your shoulder starts whispering in your ear.
Cool? Alright. Now onto the extra good stuff.
How Will You Reward Yourself For Succeeding?
You’re about to do something really hard. It’s hard for anyone for whom drinking is a significant part of their life, regardless of whether or not they think they have a problem with it. So much of our culture revolves around drinking alcohol, and you often don’t realize just HOW much until you stop.
Even if you’re reading this now and thinking, “Whoa it’s not that serious. I’m just doing a fun thirty-one-day challenge,” let me just say are YOU in for a rude awakening (that I’m totally going to help you push through by the way).
You’re doing something that is a big f***ing deal and you should be very proud of yourself on January 31, 2019 for making it.
So why not plan ahead?
I’m not suggesting you put the cart before the horse (or am I?), but I DO want you to think about how you will reward yourself for all your hard work when Dry January is finished. Write down how you will treat yourself on February 1st as a way to motivate you to keep at it.
PLEASE NOTE: Going on a booze bender is NOT a good reward and here’s why:
There is ZERO point in doing Dry January if it’s only going to end in you downing ten margaritas and dying of a sugar-tequila hangover the following day. What is the point in putting in all that work just to undo it when it’s over? As a matter of fact, if you view binge drinking as a reward, what’s really going on there, my friend?
Think about it this way – let’s say you were doing a weight loss challenge. You invest enormous time and energy by going to the gym and eating clean for an entire month. You lose five pounds and an inch off your waistline. You feel GREAT.
After reaching your mini-goal weight, would you reward yourself with a weekend of a buffet hopping and unlimited nachos? Sure, that sounds AWESOME, but why the hell did you bother in the first place if you were going to undo all your hard work immediately after?
Whatever you are abstaining from cannot also serve as your reward for abstaining. That doesn’t even make sense.
A BETTER idea is to think about all that money you’ll be saving and what positive thing you could do with it. Have you had your eye on something but lacked the funds to get it? Treat yo’self.
Been meaning to go on a little weekend getaway? Take those coins you just saved and treat yo’self.
Always wanted to do the extra fancy package at the spa? You already know that at the end of this month, you better –
New adventures are GOOD. I want you to feel hyped. I want you to be wiggling when you walk and doing a little dance in front of your mirror because you are about to do something incredible this month. I want you to toss your middle finger up to any little voice in your brain that is already panicking about hard this is going to be.
It IS going to be hard, but for today, I want you to use the adrenaline you’ve got coursing through your veins from all the New Year’s magic and allow yourself room to feel good about starting over.
We’ll get to the tough stuff, and for some of you, today may be the start of some big challenges, but hang in there. Don’t drink today. Join our Facebook Group (it’s private) if you’re feeling particularly stressed, or contact me.
You got this and I’m rooting for you to succeed!