Take a Break
Resolutions that Stick
Most people are confused when it comes to resolutions, especially those around not drinking. Maybe you can relate? If you go back on your word and drink when you said you wouldn’t, you might notice yourself slipping into shame and blame.
There’s a reason why you’re struggling to stick with your commitment, and it has nothing to do with a lack of discipline or willpower. The truth is, you’ve focused your attention in the wrong place.
Tune in and discover how to shift your focus and redefine how you show up with failure. Combined, these skills will help your resolutions stick and become unstoppable in life.
What You’ll Discover
Why people confuse not following through on a commitment with being a bad person.
How to train your brain to take a different view of failure.
The only thing you need to find if your resolutions aren’t sticking.
Featured on the show
You are listening to the Take A Break podcast with Rachel Hart, episode 207.
Welcome to the Take A Break podcast with Rachel Hart. If you’re an alcoholic or an addict, this is not the show for you. But if you are someone who has a highly functioning life, doing very well, but just drinking a bit too much and wants to take a break, then welcome to the show. Let’s get started.
Hello, hello, hello everyone. It is a new year. So in honor of the new year let’s talk about how to make resolutions that stick. Now, for a very long time I knew how to make resolutions but I didn’t know how to follow through on them. I would start with a lot of energy and I’m feeling very gung-ho and it would just start to slip away after some point, learning how to make resolutions that stick, changed everything.
I know it sounds kind of gimmicky to say, “I have the secret.” But listen, I really think I do. I really think I have the secret because I’ve watched it in my own life. I’ve watched it with so many of my clients see all of a sudden they turn into people who follow through on their commitment. I remember thinking for the longest time, I don’t know, maybe I’m just not someone who can do things all the way. Maybe I’m just not someone who follows through. I don’t have it in me. That’s not the case.
If you’ve ever said that to yourself, that’s not what’s actually going on, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. If you want to redefine your relationship with alcohol and change the habit you must listen to today’s episode.
Now, what I’m going to teach you, it matters for every goal but it really matters for the habit of drinking. I will tell you this, people tend to make falling into the trap of drinking too much or drinking when you said you wouldn’t, we tend to make it mean all these terrible things about who we are. And I want you to know it means nothing terrible about you, nothing at all, not one bit. I really want you to see if you can let that sink in.
Can you really let it sink in that no matter how much you drink, no matter what your commitment was, if you didn’t follow through it means nothing, nothing at all about you? The act of drinking when you said you wouldn’t, or drinking more than you planned, or drinking so much that you regret what happened last night, or drinking so much that you don’t remember what happened last night. It’s meaningless, it means nothing about you. What happens when you hear me say that?
I had a very hard time at first with this concept. I could not let that sink in. My brain was just batting it away constantly. And I would think that really cannot be the case. She does not know how many times I’ve failed. She doesn’t know the things I’ve done, or the people I’ve hurt, or the people I’ve let down. She doesn’t know my situation. And if your brain is thinking that, I know some of you out there are thinking those same thoughts. I want you to know I know your situation, I do, I know because I was you. Wherever you are right now in your journey, I was there.
I drank when I said I wouldn’t. I drank more than I promised I would. I drank so much I regretted what happened. I drank so much I didn’t remember what happened. I failed a million times. I said things that I regretted the next day. I did things that I regretted the next day. I had people tell me that they were upset with me, and let down by me, and angry with me. I’ve been there. And still how much you drink has nothing to do with you. It means nothing about you, and what you did while drinking means nothing about you, nothing terrible about you. You’re not a bad person.
I feel like we’ve just got to get that all out of the way because sometimes what happens when we’re trying so hard to make a resolution stick, we’re trying so hard to follow through. Maybe it’s on the 30-day challenge, maybe it’s something longer. Maybe it’s on saying no to one when we’re trying to do this. When we don’t clean that piece up it’s so hard because we’re constantly then believing I didn’t follow through on my resolution. So, see, here’s more proof, more proof that something’s wrong with me, or I’m doing something bad, or I’m bad.
But now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s just figure out, okay, so why are you struggling to make a resolution that sticks when it comes to drinking? It is nothing to do with you. And PS it has nothing to do with alcohol. What it has to do is that your attention is in the wrong place, this is the secret, it’s true for changing your drinking habits, it’s true for any goal. You are putting so much attention on saying no, so much that you forget to put any attention on why it is you said yes, that really is it.
Shifting your attention, that is the secret to sticking with your resolutions. It’s not about being more disciplined. It’s not about having more resolve. It’s shifting where your focus is. Doesn’t that seem easier? That doesn’t seem so hard. You can change where you’re focusing. The way to follow through on any goal is to be willing to uncover why it is that you failed, why it is that right now you’re not at the goal. And know the reason is not because you have an addictive personality, or you don’t have any follow through, or you’re an all or nothing person, these are not the reasons.
The reason that you didn’t follow through is simple, it’s because of one sentence in your mind, one sentence that you believed in the moment. Maybe it sounded like who cares, it doesn’t matter. It’s not going to make a difference. It’s not that bad. I deserve it. One simple sentence is standing between you and your goal, you and your resolution, that’s it. If you can find that sentence then guess what? You can change it.
One of the most powerful exercises in the 30-day challenge is our SOS exercises. We have six of these modules. Now, when I created the challenge I really spent a lot of time thinking about all of the times I had tried to take a break and followed, all the times that I had taken a break and gone right back to where my drinking had been, picked up right where I left off. And I will tell you, there were a lot of times. There were a lot of promises that I made to myself that I did not follow through on.
I thought about all of the stumbling blocks, everything that got in the way and I created SOS modules for each one. Every single one of these modules is something that I wished someone had for me. I wish that someone could have given this to me when I was trying to figure this out, how to keep going when you feel confused and overwhelmed. What to do when today is just too much and you’re too stressed out and all you really want to do is drink.
How to handle challenging events where you know that the pull, you know that your desire, you know that other people are going to make it, so it’s going to be hard, what to do when you’re feeling discouraged, or defeated, or when all that enthusiasm that you had on day one just starts to fade. But hands down my favorite SOS module is the one on how to pick yourself up after you break your commitment. It’s called learn and move on.
I cannot tell you how much I wish that someone had said, “Hey, Rachel, use this exercise every time you don’t follow through on your commitment.” And you know what, not just with the commitments I was making around alcohol, but all my commitments in life. It applies to everything. Because I didn’t know how to learn and move on, I knew how to beat myself up.
I knew and was really sure that being hard on myself was the solution. That that was a way to finally follow through, to finally stick with my resolution, but of course that doesn’t work. All you need is a basic understanding of the think, feel, act cycle to see that yeah, negative thoughts don’t create positive results. It’s just as simple as it gets. So when you’re beating yourself up and you’re being hard on yourself, it’s not going to create something good for you. Even if you say no to a drink you’re not going to feel good about it, it’s not going to be enjoyable.
And you know what? If it’s not enjoyable, it’s not going to last. You don’t need to be hard on yourself, what you need is curiosity. And how do you bring that to whatever happens? How do you not just move on from whatever you decided to do last night, no matter what, but how do you bring curiosity to the situation? That is what I struggled with for so long, because I wasn’t curious because I was so sure that I understood what was going on.
I have an addictive personality, something’s wrong with me, something’s wrong with my brain. I’m an all or nothing person, this is just who I am. I was so sure that I had the explanation all the time that my curiosity was completely blocked. So the thing that I want you to consider is this exercise isn’t just about being kind to yourself. Being kind to yourself is one thing, but just because you’re kind to yourself doesn’t mean you learn from what happened. That’s what’s most important, how do you learn from last night?
I honestly believe that this is one of the most important lessons in the entire 30-day challenge because if you can really redefine and change how you show up with yourself when you don’t honor your commitment. If you can start to redefine failure for yourself you will become unstoppable in life. That’s what I’ve watched unfold for me. I didn’t know how to do any of this.
Failure was something that just to me was I’ve got to avoid it all the time, let’s just be perfect so that I can feel good. But of course not only is perfect impossible, but if that’s the only way to feel good you’re just setting yourself up to be pretty unhappy. You’ve got to make a resolution. You’ve got to make a commitment. And then if you don’t follow through on it you have to learn and move on.
Most people don’t do this, they either double down on saying no. They think the solution is to just really grit their teeth and be more disciplined, or they give up and they throw in the towel and they go into the shame spiral. And you know what? Both options are terrible because I watch what people do when they double down on saying no, and I have seen it, not just in myself but in working with so many people. The doubling down, it just never sounds very kind. In fact it’s usually driven by so much self-judgment. God, don’t screw this up again. You’ve got to figure this out or else.
I don’t care how much you drink. I don’t care if you do drink. You don’t beat yourself up ever, this is non-negotiable. And telling yourself, I’m just being hard on myself and acting as if it’s a good thing, look at what you’re saying to yourself. Look at how you talk to yourself. Most people find that they would never use that language. They would never talk to someone else they love that way. But when it comes to themselves, I’m just being hard on myself. I just have really high standards.
It sounds so virtuous to say, “I just really have high standards.” But usually it’s just code for I’m very good at beating myself up and doing so in a way that it sounds virtuous, it sounds good. You have to learn how to break out of this habit. In fact I think this habit, it’s more important to break out of the habit of beating yourself up than it is to break out of the habit of drinking. And not because it’s just nice to be kind to yourself but because being unkind, it simply doesn’t work. Maybe you will fall into line for a while but eventually you’ll need relief.
And take it out of the realm of alcohol, being unkind to yourself in order to reach a goal, guess what happens? You’re not going to feel very good when you get there because you’ve done it from this negative place and you still have these negative thoughts. And you’re still probably going to tell yourself how you’re not measuring up, or you did something wrong, or it doesn’t count. You’re going to try to find all the loopholes.
I remember thinking to myself a lot, well, if I’m such a screw up I might as well feel good for a little bit. I might as well have a drink. I mean that is not a very helpful line of thinking, but for many, many years, dare I say a decade, that was a line of thinking that my brain traveled down. If I’m such a screw up I might as well feel good for a little bit and have a drink. Real lasting change is never the result of beating yourself up because eventually you will look for relief. There is only so much negative judgment and self-abuse that you can take before you start to crumble.
So you have to learn how to get back on track. And the way I tell people to do this is to pretend that you’re a scientist collecting data, you’ve got to put on your lab coat. So we use the learn and move on exercise inside the challenge to basically theorize why did you drink. What is your hypothesis for what happened last night?
If you remove all the reflexive answers that you’ve used for years, I don’t know, I’m weak, I’m lacking discipline, something is wrong with me, I just want it too much, I just love the taste too much. If you take all of that away and you accept that you know what, nothing is wrong with you, you have a human brain that is functioning exactly the way it should. Then what’s your hypothesis for why it happened? Maybe you don’t have enough practice feeling restless. Maybe you don’t like feeling bored. Maybe you believed a permission giving thought.
Maybe you feel like you say no all the time in your life and you don’t want to say no here. Asking good questions is how you make resolutions that stick, because good questions give you good answers. They give you data that you can actually work with. It’s not just about committing to your goal, making resolutions that stick is about committing to showing up even when you do something that you believe is out of alignment with what you want.
And when you show up, not from hate, not from self-judgment, but from true curiosity, that’s when your resolutions start to stick because that’s the only way to actually learn from what’s going on so that you can do something differently next time. If you want to redefine your relationship with alcohol and change your drinking, this piece, how you show up with yourself when you don’t do what you said you were going to do, this piece is non-negotiable.
Now, if you’re ready to do this with me, the 30-day challenge starts Monday January 11th. It really is your chance not just to give your mind and body a break from drinking, which PS they’ll feel amazing. It’s your chance to finally figure out how do I keep showing up no matter? How do I make resolutions that stick? How do I become unstoppable? How do I learn and grow instead of slipping into being hard on myself or going into a shame spiral? That’s what we’re constantly working on.
Let that be what the habit of drinking can teach you, how to be unstoppable, how to reach any goal because that really is an amazing gift, if you want to find out more just head on over to rachelhart.com/january. Alright, that’s it for today. I’ll see you next week.
Hey, if you’re a woman who enjoys this podcast and wants to have me as your coach, you have to join the Take A Break program. It’s a 30-day break from drinking that will teach you how to say no to your urges without deprivation, the secret to not needing a drink in any situation, including not needing a drink to take the edge off, and never again feeling like you can’t trust yourself around alcohol. Join me over at rachelhart.com/join. Together, we’re going to blow your mind.