January 8, 2021

Why Dry January is a terrible idea

What Next Coaching - Dry January

Slipped on your good attentions already? You are not alone. Here’s why:

It always seems like a good idea, new year, new healthier you, new habits, right?

 I must drink less / run more etc. 

  • But then back to work was a shock to the system after the Christmas slow down.
  • Then Boris chucked in another full lockdown which meant back to homeschooling for many, almost before they’d remembered their password and what was on the to do list.
  • It was still dark for more of the day than it was light.
  • It was damp and cold too.   That glass of red wine after work was just so tempting.

Sound familiar?

I’ve spent most of my career trying to understand what motivates us or gets in our way.  Helping people set SMART objectives (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time-bound).

Dry January might be timebound and easily measurable by the state of the glass recycling box. But it’s neither attainable or realistic for many, who haven’t connected the easy or flippant “I’ll have a dry January, it’s a thing” to why they really want to give up alcohol beyond “must drink less / need to lose Christmas/Covid pounds and it’s an easy way to lose empty calories”.  

That’s not specific. I will lose 2kg by February 1st is specific. That requires more than forgoing the after work glass of wine or two.  It needs a proper plan that you feel you can stick to. Small bitesizes efforts that you can readily accommodate in your daily life, achieve and actually feel / measure progress.

There’s no real penalty or real implication for giving up on Dry January, is there?  If a goal is intangible or doesn’t have meaningful consequence or benefit, it’s all too easy to give up on. 

Ask yourself why are you really doing this?  Get clear on the goal, the motivation and the benefit and you stand a chance of success. Is the glass of wine just a boundary between work and home life in our current world of blurred boundaries?  What could you replace it with to achieve the same outcome?

The main reason I hate the idea of Dry January is for so many people it starts the year off with a feeling of failure by the end of the first week, and the rest of your goals go out the window.

Your inner parrot tells you you just don’t have willpower, determination, just can’t, I’m useless, I’m a failure. Almost certainly not true, but all too easy to listen to if your goal isn’t a strong one, where you can admit one night of failure, recognise what got you there, learn from it and then get back on plan the day after. 

January is always a tough month (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). We have a primeval desire to hunker down and hibernate, to be cosy and cosseted when it’s cold and dark outside. Hygge-time. Warming stew. Wood burners.  Have the glass of red wine. Home-schooling January in a pandemic is not the time to be hard on yourself. Maybe just have one not two, or only drink at the weekends.  

If you really want to give up alcohol because it’s having a detrimental habit on your health try again in March or April, when the worse of winter is over and before the sun comes out and glasses of rosé or Pimms become the new temptations. 

I’m not saying don’t set goals of any sort. Everyone should. Just think them through and set yourself up for success. 

If you need some help setting better goals or support staying the distance, get in touch.

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