Four Tips for Staying on Track with Your New Year’s Resolution
So New Year’s Day has come and gone. That doesn’t mean that your determination for making positive changes will!
Here is some of my best advice for staying on track with your drinking goals long after the holiday season ends.
1. Replace Drinking with a New Activity You Love
When cutting back or quitting drinking, many people notice a lot more time opening up in their schedules. Unfortunately, both boredom and loneliness are two very common triggers that may lead you to drink. In order to combat these triggers and solidify the change in your routine, find ways to fill the extra time with something enjoyable and beneficial for your health and wellbeing. Make an effort to schedule alcohol-free evening plans or activities, and put your body’s own positive chemistry to work by incorporating exercise into your days. And be mindful of your powerful, unhelpful thoughts. For instance, instead of focusing on what’s missing from your life without alcohol, focus on the good things you are doing for yourself.
2. Keep Track of Your Progress
Use a personal calendar or journal to track your goals and successes as the year goes on. Even if you have a bad day, document it. Tracking your behaviors increases your awareness and helps you see how small changes really add up to big wins. It is so rewarding when you can look back on how much you’ve accomplished throughout the year.
But what should you track? A lot of this depends on your goals — and the specific, measurable steps you’re taking to attain them. What are you looking forward to in cutting back or quitting drinking? Saving money? Calories? More time being present with your kids? No hangovers? If you are hoping to save cash by not spending on alcohol, start recording how much you save each time you pass up a night of drinking! Or try keeping track of how much less your bill at the grocery store is without a few bottles of wine tacked on. Seeing this culmination of results will help you realize what a big impact your change is making and keep you motivated to keep up the good work.
3. Reward Yourself
Remember, behavior change is hard work — making it happen in your own life is something to be proud of. If you’ve been setting achievable goals (tips for setting effective goals here) and reaching them, you deserve to treat yourself! Give yourself that reward you’ve been looking forward to.
4. If You Have a Setback, Don’t Get Discouraged
Setbacks are an inevitable part of the treatment journey for many people so don’t give up on yourself when they occur. Think of your resolution to cut back or quit as a direction you’re heading in throughout the year, rather than a standard of perfection you must hold yourself to each and every day. It’s never impossible or too late to pull yourself back in the right direction again if you stray from your path and if you need help, a trusted health care provider or therapist can help you.
Research shows that lasting behavior change can take up to one year, so above all else, be patient with yourself! Refer back to this blog post (and keep checking back for new Annum blogs) every so often to help keep you on a positive path all year long!