Day 2: How to Have a Successful Dryuary

“All things are difficult before they are easy.” 
– Thomas Fuller

 
There are endless benefits of a dry January. A month without drinking is amazing for your body. It strengthens your immune system, improves digestion, cuts out empty calories and snacking, and can do wonders for your sleep.
 
With so many benefits, why can it be challenging to stick to your commitment? Understanding that question will help you plan for a successful Dryuary.

First, you need to determine where you are right now. How confident are you that you’ll end the month without having had a drop of alcohol? Score yourself from 1 to 10, with 10 being, “no doubt about it” and 1, “I’m predicting failure.” Write your score down now.
 
I want you to look at that number. How did you come up with it? Without a crystal ball to look into the future, how did you decide how to rate yourself? Many people use their past to predict their chances of success. They remember previous failed attempts or feel doubtful because they’ve never gone this long without drinking before. Looking for “evidence” is pointless. You’ll never have proof you can do something before you actually do it. You need to direct your attention toward the future.

Unless you gave yourself a 10, you’re probably predicting some obstacles this month. Spend some time right now making a list of them. Anticipate how you will feel when each obstacle arises. Consider that no matter what’s on your list, the worst thing any obstacle brings is an emotion: bored, insecure, anxious, deprived. It’s time for you to reframe your obstacles. They aren’t the problem, they’re the path. Waiting on the other side of each obstacle is pride that you said no.

Dryuary is more than just saying no, it’s about changing the habit of drinking, and all habit changes requires a little bit of discomfort. It doesn’t matter if you’re saying no to a drink, losing weight, or saving money. You have to stop doing what is comfortable and routine and start practicing something new. Saying yes to a drink is comfortable and routine. Saying will be a little uncomfortable at first because you are practicing something new. Saying no isn’t what your brain is used to. Don’t make that discomfort mean anything other than you are right on track.

Your job is to anticipate this discomfort ahead of time and deciding now how you want to show up in the face it. That’s the key. Most people get tripped up during Dryuary by not skipping this step and not planning for discomfort. Instead of focusing on willpower, discipline, and fortitude, try instead focusing on your “why.” Why did you sign up for Dryuary in the first place? What’s your reason for completing this challenge?
 
Maybe you’re sick of coming home every day and heading straight to the kitchen to pour a drink. Maybe you hate the empty calories or wasting your evenings with a wine bottle in front of the TV. Maybe you’re done waking up and wishing you had quit while you were ahead last night. Whatever your reason, is write it down right now. I’m serious. You need to see the words on paper for this next part.
 
I want you to imagine how your compelling reason will fare in the face of discomfort. Imagine yourself coming from a stressful day and wanting to take the edge off with a drink, getting a last-minute invite to happy hour, or listening to someone say, “oh c’mon, live a little.” Will the reason you wrote down still be compelling in these moments when discomfort starts to arise? Don’t be discouraged if you’re not so sure.
 
This is the bind that most people find themselves in. They want to change, but they haven’t planned for discomfort and the reason they thought was compelling doesn’t hold up under pressure. There’s an easy way to plan for this: think bigger.
 
Spend some time thinking about why completing this challenge really matters to you. Knowing that change requires discomfort, why is it worth it to you not to give up on Dryuary when things get hard? What would make discomfort worthwhile? Remember, Dryuary is supposed to be a challenge. If Dryuary doesn’t challenge you, it can’t change you.
 
The real cost of not following through on your Dryuary commitment isn’t failure, it’s teaching yourself that your words don’t matter. Quitting in the face of discomfort sends the message that your commitments are optional when things start to get tough. Your words start to lose their power. When this happens it’s easy to feel like you can’t trust yourself, and that feeling is worse than any hangover.
 
Learning how to have full trust in yourself requires a willingness to move toward the things that make you feel unsteady. You have to be willing to feel reluctant, unsure, unsteady, doubtful, awkward, resentful, deprived or just plain uncomfortable and say no. Because the reward of Dryuary isn’t just a month of not drinking or the health benefits (although those alone are pretty amazing). The reward is discovering a higher version of yourself. A version that isn’t ruled by instant gratification or what’s in your glass.

That’s the power of Dryuary. It’s discovering who you can be on the other side.
 
Post Submitted By: Rachel Hart
Rachel Hart is a master certified life coach, the host of the podcast Take a Break from Drinking, and the author of the book Why Can’t I Drink Like Everyone Else?: A Step-By-Step Guide to Understanding Why You Drink and Knowing How to Take a Break. You can learn more about her work at rachelhart.com.

Comments

  1. “Maybe you’re sick of coming home every day and heading straight to the kitchen to pour a drink… wasting your evenings with a wine bottle in front of the TV. Maybe you’re done waking up and wishing you had quit while you were ahead last night.”

    Me the past 20 years. I’m going to be 50 this year and I feel like I’ve just wasted the past 20 years not doing what I’m capable of, being afraid of life and change, becoming bitter and depressed (and sometimes suicidal) and wanting nothing more than to escape my life in the evenings on my couch under a blanket with a bottle of wine; bingeing TV series after TV series, and wishing I had a different life than the one I’m living. Then hating myself the next day because I drank too much, didn’t get enough sleep and now have to go back to my crap job hungover to do it all over again.

    I don’t want to wake up one day when I’m almost 70 and yet another 20 years has passed me by. I won’t want to live that long if I continue down this road.

    1. SmithGirlLA, I was you, suicidal thoughts and all. I quit drinking 7 months before my 50th birthday with the support of Moderation Management and the dark thoughts, the fear and anxiety, drifted away and the sun came out. That was 9 years ago. I’ve explored drinking again in the last 5 months but I can feel those dark clouds gathering so I’m back to abstaining. It’s my sunny place.

    2. I, too, feel the way you feel LAgirl – even down to the turning 50 this year part. I feel so much better days after I don’t drink and want so much to be able to drink in moderation when/if I do start drinking again.

  2. I love this emphasis on the obstacles and reframing them. “They are not the problem; they’re the path.”
    It’s really helpful to anticipate the hard parts of this or any challenge. I’m going to focus on this today: Plan for discomfort. Expect it. Have a plan for how to deal with it.

    “This is the bind that most people find themselves in. They want to change, but they haven’t planned for discomfort and the reason they thought was compelling doesn’t hold up under pressure.”

  3. Completing the first day of Dryuary feels like the biggest accomplishment. But I know the real challenges lie ahead of me. For the previous five years or so, I joined this campaign to straighten up, re-evaluate my priorities, and enjoy the sober side of life. At the end of the challenge, I rang the “bell” with mixed success and raised a glass to celebrate. Maybe not the best way to pat myself on the back. This year, my goal is to truly understand the cost/benefit of living with and without alcohol and embrace a healthier and less costly way of living.

    Good luck everyone! If you feel like a drink, then take a walk or do some pushups.

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