If you’re feeling the pull to examine your relationship with alcohol or you’re already starting to think about New Year’s Resolutions or Dry January, this article is for you. What both have in common is the practice of putting change off until later.
This article is going to walk you through why you would be better served to start creating change today.
We’re getting to the time of the year where the holiday season is just around the corner. Synonymous with the holiday season and cheer are the practices of overconsumption and overindulgence, from what we’re eating and drinking to how we (over)spend in the name of holiday gift giving and consumerism.
On the other side of the overindulgence and overspending is January 1st, the magical time where we can wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Enter: New Year’s Resolutions, and more specifically, Dry January for those wanting to change their relationship with alcohol or at least pause it for a month.
Knowing that the New Year and potential for resolutions exist, we mentally give ourselves permission to overindulge in the coming months because we have committed to change on the other side. The holiday season followed by resolutions (or a month without booze) has become a perpetual cycle of failure that most can’t get out of.
Consider the following: the busiest and most lucrative time for alcohol companies is now, between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. The busiest and most lucrative time for gyms and other health-oriented businesses is the New Year. Big Alcohol is banking on you to “drink and be merry” in the coming months, and indirectly, so is the wellness industry, which is relying on the power of New Year’s Resolutions and striving to undo in January what was overdone during the holiday season.
Both Big Alcohol and the wellness industry (broadly) are relying on you, dear reader, to overindulge and overspend in the coming months and then create a resolution come January to clean it all up. It’s a cycle that doesn’t work for most, but Big Alcohol and various sectors of the wellness industry certainly benefit from it.
This is your invitation to step out of the system and cycle that doesn’t want what’s best for you but is instead banking on choices that don’t support you or your wellness in any way. If you are feeling the nudge toward getting curious about the role alcohol plays in your life, now is a great time to examine that. You don’t have to wait.
Despite our best intentions, most people fall off track when it comes to resolutions. According to Drive Research, a New-York-based market research company, just nine percent of adults uphold their resolutions over the course of the year. Nine percent!! According to the same research, 43 percent of resolution setters have forgotten their resolution by February.
What’s interesting about these numbers is that they aren’t surprising. Setting resolutions has almost become comical as it’s common knowledge that many falter in their New Year pursuits. What’s more interesting about resolutions is the number of people who still opt to participate, despite knowing the odds that following through aren’t great.
So why do we do this? Why do we knowingly participate in the cycle that isn’t actually working for us?
Likely because we want to do the thing that feels good now and not worry about the consequences of later.
We want to overindulge and feel okay about it.
We want to overspend and not worry about the bills that will arrive come January.
We want to eat and drink and be merry.
And all of this feels much more okay because we promised ourselves that we will clean up our acts in January.
Except most of us won’t.
There is something deeply comforting about making a future promise to ourselves. It allows us to keep doing what we’re doing now (even if it’s not in service to us) because the promise of change is just around the corner. In my work as a sober coach, I see this often. I think part of the comfort in kicking the can down the road when it comes to change is that you are effectively giving yourself permission to continue doing what you’re doing without any real commitment to change. It’s a false promise that allows us to stay squarely in our comfort zone. This is true in relation to getting sober and to resolutions following the holiday season.
But what if you chose to do it differently? What if you chose to make intentional choices that support you living the life you want to live?
Instead of waiting until January 1st to create some changes in your life, what if you started today?
With all the holiday parties, gatherings and social events on the horizon, perhaps you’re thinking that now is the worst possible time to consider making changes or getting sober.
Let me tell you why now is the absolute best time to get sober (or create change in your life).
1. The only time we have is now. The future isn’t guaranteed in any way so the only time we know we have is this moment. If you are in habits, cycles, and patterns that aren’t working for you (or worse, causing you harm), you owe it to yourself to do something about that. Now. Time spent waiting, wishing, and wanting for things to change is time wasted. And this is your one, precious life. Please don’t waste it.
2. In choosing to get sober now, by the time January 1st arrives, you will have almost two months of sobriety under your belt. In this time, you will have the chance to practice sobriety while also creating evidence for yourself that change is possible, and importantly, that change is possible in your life and that you can make it happen. This is empowerment in action.
3. By choosing to create the change you’re seeking now, you are effectively sidestepping all the shenanigans of the holidays that don’t feel so great come January. You can opt out of the two-month bender/food fest/money-spending extravaganza now if you want, which will feel better in the coming weeks and amazing in January when you then don’t have to clean up and repair the damage done during the holiday season. This is doing your future self a solid.
4. By starting your sobriety now, you can plan, strategize and amass tools, community, support, and resources that set you up for a fun, social, successful holiday season that doesn’t involve booze. You are way more likely to have and create the experience you want with time, planning, and boundaries, all of which you can start working on today.
5. In choosing to get sober now and have a sober holiday, you are demonstrating to yourself that your desire for change, your willingness to try, and your commitment to showing up for yourself and the life you want to be living is bigger and stronger than your desire to cycle through the old, comfortable patterns and stay stuck in habits that aren’t working for you. And that, dear reader, is a priceless and invaluable feeling.
6. By starting to create the change you are seeking now, you are voting in favor of the life you want to be living instead of voting in favor of the life you don’t. If it helps, think about the last time you decided to put something off. How did that work out for you? Everything can be made into a habit. Putting something off until later is a habit. Indecision is a habit. Procrastination is a habit. Making a powerful decision is a habit. Acting now is a habit. Shifting your perspective on time is a habit. You get to decide what habits you want to invest in. Choose wisely.
Bonus reason: According to Drive Research, when it comes to resolutions, the most common include improving: mental health, physical health, finances, and relationships. Getting sober helps and improves all of these (and more). Just saying.
Still not convinced? Let’s talk about why New Year’s Resolutions fail.
January 1st is an arbitrary date; it’s unrelated to you, your values, or your “why” for creating change in your life. With no real connection to this date—other than that it’s become a cultural practice analogous with resolutions—January 1st is insignificant and lacks a strong enough motivator to sustain any kind of long-term change.
We often approach resolutions and the New Year without a plan in place and when it comes to creating lasting change, we need more than to simply “resolve” to make it happen. January 1st arrives and we are expected to simply “fix” or change the thing without taking the time to set ourselves up for success. Change doesn’t happen overnight; change happens over time, and the best way to create lasting, sustainable change is to start now, create a plan, and stick to it consistently. If you are looking for a new experience in 2024, now is the time to start and lay the foundation for that.
Resolutions are often giant, lofty goals (fantasies?) that don’t take into account our realities, values, or how we live our lives on a day-to-day basis. If you’re someone who is inconsistent with your movement and exercise practices, it’s unlikely that when January 1st arrives, you are all of a sudden going to be someone who values getting up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym five days a week before work. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make it a goal to get to the gym. But you’re going to have a better chance at success if you make a plan and goals that align with your values and priorities. The concept of New Year’s Resolutions doesn’t address or support any of these things and simply prompts folks to change come January 1st.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait. You can take stock of what’s working and what isn’t and start to create change now. By the time the new year rolls around, you will already be well into creating change, habits, and the new experiences you are seeking for yourself. You can start to create a different experience for yourself starting today. Because you are someone who takes their life seriously. And you believe wholeheartedly that you and your life are worth the effort.
Change is possible. Living the life you want and deserve is possible. And it can start today.
Cheering you on.