When a new year starts, many of us like to make drastic life changes.
“I’m going to work out 365 days this year!!”
“I’m giving up sugar.”
“I’m going to save 98% of my paycheck…. and I’m going to go insane as well.”
Often times Americans focus on making a significant change beginning each year on January 1st. We tend to do this because we want to better ourselves. I don’t know the specific stats on this, but my educated guess is the majority of people do not stick to and complete their new years’ resolutions. And that number dramatically decreases when people make extreme and unrealistic resolutions (scroll up for examples).
Change is good. However, I think a better way to actually change and see progress is by setting SMART goals.
Okay, so let’s use drinking as an example.
A NSDUH study in 2015, found that 86%+ of Americans over the age of 18 drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. 56% reported that they drank in the past month.
There are ~10,000 bars just in NYC.
In 2017, the overall beer market sales were $111.4 Billion
The majority of Americans consume alcohol on a regular basis.
It’s a huge part of many of our lives! Some days after work we grab happy hour drinks with coworkers. On Sundays, we watch football with beer. Then there’s those Wine Wednesdays in college, and the list goes on.
I live in New York City and I drink on a regular basis. Sometimes I’ll come home and have a glass of red wine with dinner or I’ll go to a comedy show and they require a two drink minimum. Plus, no one here owns a car, so going out is easier and safer when it comes to drinking and driving.
No drinking in January, also known as Dry January, is a popular way people start the New Year. This is what prompted me to set the resolution of, “No drinking in January. I’m going to a do a dry January to be healthier– a cleanse”.
In theory, this was a sound plan for me. More gym time, healthier foods, zero hangovers, increased productivity. But when I thought about it a little more I went
“Hmmm I don’t think it’s necessary for me to completely cut drinking out of my life for a month. I love grabbing drinks with friends, so why would I quit that all of January?”
And that’s when I decided to do a “Damp January”.
Damp January SMART Goal:
- What is it? 1 night per week of unrestricted drinking
- Why? I still get to work on everything I wanted to accomplish with Dry January— Getting back into the groove of eating healthier, going to the gym more, and being more productive. But instead of fully crossing drinking of the list (something I enjoy), I’m just monitoring it in the month of January.
- Advantage? The power of anticipation. When we have something to look forward to, it helps energize us. A perfect example of the power of anticipation is when work sucks all week, but we have fun plans on Friday night and we’re looking forward to them. Anticipation helps focus our minds and complete the work in front of us because there’s a reward at the end.
This is why my goal is a SMART Goal. It’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Research shows that it takes 21 days to form a habit. By doing Damp January, I’ll be forming a sustainable habit that could be transferable to future months.
To me, 730 uninterrupted hours of not consuming an alcoholic beverage, doesn’t fit into my lifestyle right now. And being healthy is a lifestyle, not a trial of extremes.
By reworking my original goal, I was able to still challenge myself in a new way, but in a smarter way.
- The power of anticipation
- Beer statistics