sweating at end of workout routine

Habits of successful ex-drinkers 2: Being persistent

Once successful non-drinkers have used their WHY as inspiration to fuel their motivation, they develop a persistence habit.

They become persistent in their quest to master being sober. No matter what challenges are thrown at them, their determination to get to their desired destination cuts in.

When you learn a new skill, whether it’s as a toddler learning to walk, a child learning to ride a bike, a teenager learning to play a sport or a musical instrument or an adult learning a new language, you have to practise, practise, practise until you have one step mastered. Then you move on to the next step.

There are times when you don’t feel like doing the practise. There are times when other activities seem more attractive. There are times when it seems just too difficult. You can’t get your head around it. And, that’s when people who are persistent and determined carry on and do it anyway.

Learning how to navigate life sober is a new skill. It’s something you have to learn and practise. So, you need exactly the same kind of determination and persistence as if you were learning any new skill. Partly that comes from being inspired and motivated by your WHY. It’s this inspiration that gives you the persistence habit you need.

Some people think that they don’t have this level of persistence because they might have tried to stop drinking before, found it tough and reverted back to drinking again. They might be telling themselves that they can’t do it. The truth is they can do it - they just need the right tools, the right guidance and the belief that they can do it. Repeated practise is key. Deciding to stop drinking and then reverting back to drinking again is like learning French and getting the same word wrong a few times. It just takes more practise and persistence is all.. (and belief in your vision, your end result, your motivation!)

You will always have a few areas in your life where you can recognise that you demonstrate high levels of persistence. Maybe it’s at work. Maybe it’s being a parent. Maybe it’s playing a sport or another activity. There will be something in your life that you persist at, even when it’s difficult. The trick is to work out what feeds your motivation and keeps you persisting in that area and apply that to staying sober.

For example, I'm very determined and persistent when it comes to working out. I always find a way to fit in a workout no matter how tricky it might be and no matter how much I don’t feel like doing it. So, I started thinking about what motivates me with working out. What keeps me being persistent even when it’s hard work and the last thing I want to do? The answers were:

1. It’s become a routine and I do it almost automatically – I don’t have to think about it or have an argument with myself
2. I love feeling fit and well and strong – I have a strong sense of my body and how it feels when it’s working well – I want to keep this feeling
3. I have everything at the ready to make it as easy for me as possible (my equipment, clothes and workout programmes are all easily accessible and can be used at the last minute – I don’t have to spend half an hour getting ready)
4. I don’t want to be overweight and unhealthy – I enjoy food and want to be physically active enough to continue to enjoy a healthy appreciation of food without denying myself anything.

So, if I apply these “motivations” to not drinking, they would look like this:

1. This is about making not drinking a routine. A habit. In order to get to point where I’m not having to think about it anymore, I need to practise and practise so it just becomes a normal part of my day and my life
2. This is about knowing what I want and how I want to be. It’s about creating a strong sense of how great my life is when I’m sober so that I can keep moving towards it
3. This is about making it easy for myself to not drink: avoiding situations that might be challenging; having the autonomy and excuses ready so I can leave events early and under my own steam if I want to; enlisting any support I might need from the people around me; using the resources and tools that I know work well (ie, what’s in the GGS Pogramme); having all the soft drink alternatives I need to hand; having healthy treats to reward myself with; etc.
4. This is about remembering how I don’t want to be. Remembering the pain and trauma that drinking brought me; how it felt to be hungover; how it felt to be ashamed of my behaviour; how it was to feel self-conscious and embarrassed, as if I was carrying a guilty secret around and was terrified other people might find out.

You can see that it’s possible to identify an area in your life where you demonstrate great persistence and then to apply how you do that to staying successfully sober. Persistence is something that you can build on. It’s a bit like a muscle that you can train. The more you work on it, the stronger it will become.
Here are three questions that can help you do this for yourself right now.

1. What area in your life can you recognise that you are persistent and determined?
2. What three or four motivators can you identify that enable this persistence?
3. How can you apply these motivators to staying sober?

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