Day 24: Changing Habits

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

Changing Habits 

Changing habits like drinking can be challenging yet are doable. Here is an outline of the steps clinical research (and the experiences of my clients over the years) suggests are helpful when making a change.

Build Your Motivation and Commitment

See my first blog post about this. And your level of motivation can change. Remembering your reasons for change can help maintain your motivation.

Set Goals

Dryuary is about not drinking for the month of January yet is that realistic for you? Only you can answer that. If 30 days seems far-fetched, how about 7? How about 3? How about even just 1? You can always renew your goal once you’ve done it. And you may be surprised that it gets easier over time.

Keep Track

Keeping track helps you gauge your progress. Consider tracking these things:

  • Abstinent days
  • Non-heavy drinking days (that’s also progress if you usually drink 5+ (for men) or 4+ (for women) standard drinks
  • Your mood
  • Urges or cravings you may have
    • What helps you deal with them?

Reward Yourself

We can’t recommend specific rewards because rewards are what’s meaningful to you. Consider this when coming up with ways to reward yourself for your successes:

  • Reward yourself for achieving a goal of reasonable size. Consider a reward for not drinking for a few days or a week. Waiting for the end of 30 days puts the reward out too far in time to be reinforcing. Rewarding yourself every Saturday morning when you’ve abstained during the work week will be more helpful. 
  • Do something that makes you feel good. It need not be something you buy but something you do.
  • Make the size of the reward appropriate to the time and effort that went into what you’re giving yourself the reward for.

Learn from Your Mistakes

It’s rare for people to make a big change in a behavior and not have times when the old habit sneaks back in. Instead of beating yourself up because of it, use it as a chance to figure out what to do differently the next time that trigger comes along.

Post Submitted By: Dr. Reid K. Hester
Dr. Reid K. Hester is the Founder of and has been involved in clinical research and practice in helping people change their drinking for over 40 years. Consider using our confidential, science based and clinically proven program that helps people take a break from drinking and change their drinking habits. My research team and I have been developing, evaluating, and disseminating programs that do just that for 20 years now.
Suggested NA beverages: Non-Alcoholic Vodka and Dirty Martini Mocktail