“Drynuary”: Buoyed by a commitment device

Week 3 – Into Week 3 buoyed by a commitment devicereputation-2.

I’m switching over from counting days to weeks now. That puts me into Week 3. Yes!

I read an article recently (Goodbye Booze, For Now) by another Drynuary follower, David Cain, who explains that Week 3 is when it becomes a slog. The first blush of excitement and enthusiasm have faded, rather like all the people who are dropping out of the exercise classes at our local gym by now. That little voice in your head that squawks at you, takes the upper hand, and you fall away. He’s been doing this for 10 years now, and always hits the wall around the third week.

Well, here I am in Week 3 and I’m still solidly committed. I had been trying to analyze the why’s and wherefores for this lucky circumstance, when one of my family members last night saw me eat a small square of chocolate and threatened to “out” me on my blog.

First of all, this is about alcohol — the chocolate thing is just a side-line watch item. Secondly, I realized “that’s it!”. That’s the real hook for me. It’s this blog.  I have proclaimed this alcohol fast to the world – quite literally. I’ve put myself out there, and I’m not going to fail in front of the world.

This is what behavioral economists have labeled the commitment device. I first heard it from the Freakonimcs guys, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt. They focus heavily on economic penalties, rather than the emotional penalties I’ve set up here, such as loss of face and reputation.

So, here I am, going strong and continuing to broadcast.

Thanks to all of you across the globe who have been sending me messages of support and sharing your personal “drynuary” journey.

Off to a weekend in the woods with 80 women – I’ll be a spectator to the loose and crazy banter that emerges late at night when the wine is uncorked. I think I’m up to the challenge!

Posted in challenges, discipline, Drinking, Happiness, Health & Fitness, Life Coaching, new years resolutions, peronsal effectiveness, psychology | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Drynuary”: The hotel bar on a weekend out of town is weirdly dull?

Day 12/13:  How is it possible that the hotel bar on a weekend out of town is weirdly dull?

i-cant-wait-to-leave-a-party-early-this-weekend-funny-ecard-e8qWe’re down at the border doing missionary work at the humanitarian respite center this weekend. You wouldn’t think this would be the hotbed of temptation for my fast. However, a crisp, cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc is something I really look forward to at the end of long hours on my feet battling my way through conversations in broken Spanish.

After spending our daytime hours intersecting with the unfathomable world of a weary asylum seeker, we return to our safe bubble at the hotel in the evenings. The contrast is stark. Hard to wrap your mind around the chasm between ‘us’ and ‘them’. That whole topic is another discussion, for another day.

Settling back into our reality at the hotel bar, life continues with NFL playoffs on TV, and the important dissection of strategies, starting bench, odds, and team preferences. All this critical analysis and higher order thinking is enriched and the volume dialed up by beers, whiskeys and mixed drinks. Yawn. I’m drooping in the corner with my lemon water. Yawn. Exhausted and fantasizing about my quiet room away from the crowd. Yawn.

Wait! Who is this person? No! … not the sleepy-eyed party-pooper who slinks off to bed, just as things start to rev up?! Me? Dang. I cannot believe this is me. It’s weirdly dull and old-ladyish, but I can’t access that zeal tonight. It’s slipped away. The conduit to that place isn’t available to me. So, I slide off to bed and into delicious slumber, already thrilled at the prospect of feeling fantastic when the early morning wake-up call comes around.

How is this so ok with me?

Posted in discussion, Drinking, Happiness, Health & Fitness, Humor, Life Coaching, Life Stories, new years resolutions, thankful, thankfulness | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

When there are no alcohol options to be had

Day 11: When there are no alcohol options to be had.

food-truck-plaza-mcallenWe arrive in the border town after dark, after our stomach’s expecting feeding hour, and after getting stiff and crampy from many hours behind the wheel. The hotel check-in is fast and easy, then we’re off on a food hunt. The collection of food trucks in a nearby flat lot had caught our eye driving in, so we headed straight over there. No discussion needed.

The whole scene is the kind that a hip NYT foodie reporter would turn cartwheels over. Unique local cuisine, never-heard-of before menu items, Spanglish being spoken all around, people vignettes playing out at each table, twinkly lights … As for drinks, folding tables in front of the food trucks sag in the middle from the weight of the colorful agua fresca jars. Crates with real sugar CocaCola in small bottles are stacked below.

This is not the place where I can find that much anticipated glass of wine — the perfect anti-dote to the long and weary drive. Thankfully I’m not looking for that tonight! What freedom there is in this! I slurp down the horchata and am completely happy and satisfied. We stay and soak in the ambiance and flavors, rather than eating and running … back to the hotel bar.

Chalk up another win for “Drynuary”.

Posted in change, Culture, discipline, Happiness, Health & Fitness, Life Coaching, Life Stories, new years resolutions, thankfulness | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

“Drynuary”: Post happy hour race car driving

Day 10 – Navigating the post happy hour racetrack.

fast-driving-on-freewayIt would seem that stone-cold sober driving on our freeways is not for the weak of heart  — especially as happy hour winds down on Thursday evenings. Returning from an early dinner out (made easy with t-totalers), traversing the city on four, five, and even six-lane highways in some places, I see maneuvers normally reserved for cop movie chase scenes. Traffic is flowing again after the twice-daily near grid-lock madness.

It’s Thursday evening, the new Friday for many. Those who stopped off for happy hour are now on their way home with a fabulous buzz after a couple of drinks on an empty stomach. The weekend is in sight, there’s space to zip along unhindered. Driving bravado is on the rise, the Formula One wanna-be’s are unleashed on the roads.

Woosh … Yikes! … Did that really happen? … I have to push it to 70mph+ just to keep up. I’m white-knuckling it trying to anticipate the next crazy move. Not sure which is worse: the daytime slow texters, or the after-dark speedy Mario Andretti’s?

Thank goodness I have my wits about me, but this all feels much more scary in my new completely stone-cold sober state. Is tonight different? Am I different? After a normal happy hour I rarely see anything like this. I wonder. The question now lingering in my mind, is, even staying within legal limits, what would this drive have looked like to me after a typical happy hour?

More observations from the other side of alcohol.

Bracing myself for another Friday and Saturday!

Posted in change, Change Management, Diet, discipline, driving, Life Coaching, new years resolutions, safety | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Drynuary”: Forget your clever coping strategies

Day 9: I don’t want to hear about strategies, tactics or coping mechanisms.

longing-egon-schieleIt’s been one of those whirlwind few days. Starting with pre-dawn conference calls – always wish I hadn’t accommodated those when the alarm goes off – that then put you on a treadmill that will not stop until late in the evening. I get going at such a pace sometimes, I really need to put the brakes on before I can get to sleep at night.

That’s where a glass of wine is the perfect anti-dote to such a frenetic day. Everything slows down. Obsessions over unchecked tasks melt away. Who cares? Worries about the next wave coming tomorrow get fuzzy. The world is a better, friendlier place.

I’m not caving in, I’m not trying to negotiate a new deal, but I’m also not interested in any clever coping strategies right now. I just want to sit with my longings ….

Posted in challenges, change, Change Management, Diet, discipline, Happiness, Health & Fitness, Life Coaching, new years resolutions | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

“Drynuary”: Adding up the savings

Day 8: More on adding up the cost savings.

cost-savingsAs I mentioned yesterday in my tips posting, I’m big on tracking and measuring progress. I stole the counting costs idea from a friend. She used this a few years ago to incentivize her quit smoking campaign. She put her daily cigarette money into a kitty that funded a weekend getaway at the end of each month. Yes, this can really get you places in the UK with the sky-high  cigarette prices — especially if you’re a heavy smoker.

I’m propelled by metrics that demonstrate perfection and accomplishment, rather than anything to do with money. I love the mounting count of clean days (8 already!) and the ever-constant zero days slipping off track. A weird OCD thing, I know, but it works for me.

Today, I thought I’d run the cost savings idea through an Excel spreadsheet. Maybe it would fire me up me more than expected. Wow, that was a revelation! I calculated a couple of drinks out with dinner a couple of times a week + a couple of drinks at home in the evening on the other days + entertaining once a week, and before you know it I’m getting into some significant $s per month. If I add in the spouse knock-on effect it gets even larger. Even though he’s not joining me in this ‘adventure’, his consumption inevitably also drops during these dry weeks. Not as much fun to open a bottle of wine with someone who’s drinking Perrier. Sorry dearest.

Now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t take a page from my friend Carolyn’s book and stash this windfall in a safe place that I blow on something fun at the end. I’m mulling it over. Wondering what I would do with it?


Posted in challenges, change, Change Management, Diet, discipline, Happiness, Health & Fitness, Life Coaching, new years resolutions, performance, peronsal effectiveness, psychology | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Drynuary”: Tips for Joining the Journey

Day 7: Tips for Joining the Journey.

tips-1By special request, I’m sharing a few go-to strategies that keep me on track:

Don’t start unless you’re IN – If you’re still waffling, or negotiating terms and conditions … days of the week, number of drinks per day, exception rules, etc, then forget it. Think of it as leaping into a cold lake, getting on a plane, or rushing a yellow traffic light. When you take off, you’re committed. There’s no going back.

Load up on coping tactics – Prepare for the trickier intersection points of commitment in theory and your life for real. Make up your mind in advance of every drinking event what you’re going to say, do, drink, and feel like. Yes, I do mean feel like too. Visualize all the positives that will make you even look forward to it. From lower bar bill, to no hangover potential, to sharper wits, to less likely to do whatever bad has ever happened after a few drinks too many. You know your list better than I do! These will psych you up and give you staying power.

Change up your routines – It’s not business as usual right now, so add something new to the regular mix. Anything involving alcohol typically is more passive, not to mention slowing you down. Shake loose from that draggy lifestyle. Go for a walk in the evening instead of the glass of wine. Meditate before bedtime instead of a nightcap. Nix all those other laying around activities, like TV that send signals to your auto-pilot brain to get yourself a little something to unwind with. Harness that extra energy and time; ratchet up your workouts, go dancing, play games, play an instrument. Do something!

Measure progress – Each passing day builds confidence and a feel-good quota. Count the days, count the extra workouts, count the $ you’ve saved, count the calories you haven’t consumed, count the number of times you could count on yourself to stick it out, count anything that serves you feeling like you’ve accomplished something. You have!

Speaking of which, today marks the end of a full week. Wow. 🙂

Posted in challenges, Diet, discipline, Happiness, Health & Fitness, Life Coaching, new years resolutions, on task, peronsal effectiveness, Progress, thankful | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments