I have recently realised that I am rather lacking in a plan for the next 5 years. When you are drinking, I know that thinking about the next 5 days can be a struggle, let alone contemplating where you might be in 5 years. For me though a plan is a must. Without a structure and an idea of where I am heading, I turn into a Netflix-bingeing procrastinator extraordinaire.
Nothing Left to Watch
I realised things had gotten out of hand recently when I was searching for my next Korean drama (I’m a massive fan!) only to discover that I had watched everything I wanted to. As I sat in front of the TV mindlessly scrolling in a vain attempt to find something to watch, getting increasingly frustrated, it dawned on me that this wasn’t a productive use of my time and that I could be doing something – anything else!
There is no plan
After a few days of thinking about what was bugging me I realised that I don’t have a plan, not for the next week, next month or next year. While I do think it’s much better to live in the present as much as possible, living without a goal that I am aiming towards means I am always a little stuck in the present.
It’s not like me to be operating without a plan though so what’s been stopping me?
I’ve had a lot going on in the last year, personally and professionally which has meant that I’ve been spread a bit thin physically and emotionally. The prospect of planning for anything has felt like ‘too much’ and so I haven’t. Trying to think of it positively, I guess I could say I was living in a spell where I was having a break but the truth is, life has felt a little overwhelming and I just rolled with it instead of taking control.
No matter which way I looked at it, I couldn’t continue to just float through life. For one thing, I won’t ever get anywhere or achieve anything. But, more importantly, not having a plan reminds me too much of the time when I was a drinker. I had a million ideas on what I wanted to do but never had the energy to do them. Alcohol was always more important and was the anchor that kept me from moving forward.
I have a plan
As I write this I have the first twinkles of a plan for the next year and already feel so much better. A little bit of writing and looking ahead at the next 12 months and there is a shape emerging from the clouds of my mind. The 5 year plan will take a bit of work but I can feel it coming.
When You Drink
When you drink and you have ideas about stopping it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and give up before you even try. There is a lot to think about. You will need to think about the detox and how to treat yourself healthily while you’re feeling rubbish. Tackling your triggers and making sure you’re prepared for them is critical. Having some idea of how you want life to be will give you hope and motivation. Being prepared for the surprises that dealing with your feelings and emotions brings will help keep you emotionally stable.
Making it Hard on Yourself
Yes, it is entirely possible to stop today, say ‘enough is enough’ and never touch a drop again. If you do that it is entirely possible that you will succeed but without addressing a number of areas in your life, you are either likely to fail or succeed in a much harder way than you need to.
You might be that person who spontaneously ‘gets it’ and one day just stops and never looks back.
However, that’s not the experience most of us have. If you were going to embark on a diet you would have to plan your food, decide what kind of exercise you are going to do and plan your time so that you don’t fail to do it. It’s no different with alcohol, you need to plan.
Consider some of the elements that need addressing when you think about stopping:
- Date – there might be stuff going on that means a delay to your last day one is a good idea. You might have to postpone the date until you have some time off.
- Detox – you need to plan how you are going to get through the detox. Do you need a doctor’s appointment (it’s recommended)? Do you need to do some food prep to make eating healthier easier? Do you need to take a day or two off work so you can have a restful time and help a speedy recovery time?
- Triggers – what changes do you need to plan for in regard to your triggers? Do you need to change your environment, get the support of a loved one, think about a different route home to avoid that shop? Do you need to plan what you are going to drink?
- Time and Money – what are you going to do with the time and money you are getting back and saving? What dreams are inside the hours you’ve wasted on alcohol and what is the plan to use them more wisely? What goals can be achieved with an injection of cash and what’s the plan to save that money?
- Long-Term Sobriety – what do you want your life to be like? As Tony Robbins said in Awaken the Giant Within; “You see, ten years from now you will surely arrive. The question is: Where? Who will you have become? How will you live? What will you contribute?” Without a plan, you will definitely arrive somewhere but it might not be somewhere you want to be but if you make a plan to live your sober life to the fullest, surely isn’t that what you will achieve?
There are lots of ways to plan – probably a million. I’m a big fan of a planner book. If I have something to write in I’m a happy bunny. There is a method that is tried and tested and might be worth considering if you’re a planning newbie:
Specific – don’t say “I am going to stop” – say “I am going to stop on 1st August for at least 30 days and I am going to embrace the process and enjoy it.”
Measurable – Pick a time frame, give yourself a date and stick to it. Use a tracker to tick off the days.
Achievable – There will be something in your past that you have changed or given up. Say “I gave up smoking so I can easily give up alcohol.” “I moved to another part of the country for work so I have the determination and energy to make this change. Choose a plan and a goal that you know you can achieve. Don’t allow your overconfidence or your desperation to say “I’m giving up forever” if, in your heart, you know that’s unrealistic.
Relevant – Keep it real and relevant to your life. There is no point in saying you will stay sober and do a run 5 days a week if your lifestyle just can’t handle that kind of commitment. What would work for you?
Time-bound – Pick a date and reward yourself every time you achieve it. You could choose your first 30 days but reward yourself every Sunday morning. It’s a great way to schedule in some self-care.
We plan for everything in life but I have seen many women miss out this vital work in the desperation to be sober. I know how difficult it feels, wishing to be sober but continuing to drink. But if you ignite the spark of the beginnings of a plan you might just get excited about what you can achieve in your sober life.
What’s Your Plan?
What’s the first thing you need to plan for? What is the time span? A year might be too enormous to think about right now but what if you planned the next 30 days? What would that plan look like?
I would love to hear from you so feel free to drop me a message with your plan.
I designed My 30 Day Sobriety Journal for exactly this reason – to help you formulate a plan. Get Your Copy HERE.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you.