Kate's Blog

Fear Of Failure: What If I Try To Quit, But Can’t?

You keep thinking about quitting drinking, but every time you’re about to dive in and really go for it, the fear of failure takes over.

Suddenly, there are 101 reasons why now isn’t the right time: you’ve got a holiday coming up, you’re busy, your friends won’t like it, you never stick at things…
Lurking behind those different reasons tends to be one main fear: what if I try to quit, but I can’t do it?
Personally, I know the fear of failure held me back for a long time. It felt safer and easier to stay in my comfort zone instead.
Can you relate? In this blog I’m sharing two ways of reframing this fear and seeing things a little differently…

Here’s what you need to remember when your fear of failure kicks in:


Know that doing nothing is still a decision

When we’re catastrophizing and getting caught up in the fear of failure, we’ll often freeze and do nothing. It can feel safer to stay stuck, because when you’re not even trying to quit drinking, you protect yourself from the risk of failing. 
Yet when we stop and think about this, it’s not quite so straightforward.
Choosing to do nothing isn’t as passive as you might think. It’s still a conscious choice. Not making a decision to do anything about your drinking is making a decision, because you’re choosing to make do with the status quo. 
If you’re reading a blog like this, the chances are that you’re not happy with your relationship with alcohol. And yet by freezing – and letting your fear of failure take over – you’re choosing more of what’s making you miserable. You are choosing a life of hangovers, shame and regrets.
Worse still is that over time, the status quo will change. Your drinking is likely to increase and your quality of life will continue to degrade. It’s important to understand that this is what you’re choosing, when you decide to do nothing. (I wish I’d realised this a lot sooner.)

You can’t avoid discomfort – but you can make sure it’s worth it 

Time for some truth talk: if you quit drinking, you’re going to feel some discomfort, because stepping outside your comfort zone is scary. And of course, there’s also the fear of failure; the risk that things won’t go well. That’s tough to deal with.
However, the status quo (drinking) is also causing you some serious discomfort right now. Hangovers are hard work, right? They make you feel terrible, physically and mentally, and struggling with your drinking can eat away at your confidence and self esteem.
My point is this: you’re going to have to tolerate some discomfort no matter what you do next.
That’s the bad news. The good news? If both options involve a bit of discomfort, why not take a gamble on sobriety? You’ve got nothing to lose.
You already know how alcohol makes you feel and it’s not good. Sobriety is the only option that has the potential for a happy outcome.
I know it’s hard and scary at first, but it won’t stay that way – I promise! In the long term, being alcohol-free is much easier than drinking. Sobriety can be completely life changing (just click here to see how it’s transformed the lives of my students). 
Success is rarely a smooth path from A to B. When you’re trying to do something great – and sobriety truly is great – you might fall flat on your face from time to time. But even if that happens, you’re still making progress. You’re taking action, moving forward and giving yourself the opportunity to experience a more fulfilling way of life.
Go for it. You won’t regret it 🙂

If you need support to stop drinking or take a break from booze, click here for details of my online course

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


30 Responses

  1. Thanks for not giving up on me. I start every day saying today is the day… still not quite there but I sincerely appreciate the emails and pep talks.. I know I will be AF soon!!

    1. Hi Kathy, I’m glad my blogs are benefiting you. However, I know a short weekly blog can only go so far – so if you need some extra support to step things up a gear and really make this happen, I’d be happy to work with you on this. My 6 week course would be a great fit: you receive daily lessons, support and coaching from me. It will help you get out of that ‘today is the day’ cycle and into action. I only run this course a few times each year, but the next class starts in a few weeks – here are some more details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

    2. Kathy,
      This was me for SO long and then it all clicked one day and I have 16 months sobriety. It took me so many times, Day ones, saying today is the day, etc. and each time, I got closer and closer until it happened. The same will happen for you too. Stick with it!

      1. It clicked for me back in April after going back and forth (once stopping for three months) when I was driving home from a weekend away with my husband. I felt like I needed a drink just to feel “normal”. I should have felt rested and happy but I was depressed and irritable. And the shame. I was ready to be free from that. I don’t miss that at all.

    3. Thank you from me as well. I am now on day 2 and feeling strong at the moment. Fell of the wageon 5 months ago with alot of guilt. Great parties yes they are great intill the next day when you actualy have to look at pictures and your whatts apps to rementber what did go down. Then the guilt and the hangover. please let me win this time

  2. Love this, particularly point 2. I stopped drinking in January (after taking your course!) and I think the reason I was ready to do it was because I realised over xmas just how much pain drinking was causing me. Yes, stopping was hard too, but not as hard as where my drinking was taking me. It hasn’t always been plain sailing, but an AF life is so worth it!

    1. I’m so pleased to hear this Lindsey! Congratulations – I know how much has changed for you over these past few months ❤️

  3. Quitting is hard and scary. And, I fell flat on my face yesterday so today is difficult. But for me at this point being sober is the only option, moderation doesn’t work – it’s exhausting. So I’m determined to get back up and go for it. Thanks for the article, it is encouraging, and on a day I need it.

        1. Hi Herman, I’m afraid my online coaching programme is for women only. I hope you find lots of support on reading my blog however 🙂

          1. Makes sense – yes the material is encouraging. Sometimes it helps just to know your not unusually defective. Alcohol can take a toll on your feeling of self worth.

  4. Thank you for this encouraging blog. I have attempted sobriety again and again this year, last year, the year before. There is always an excuse or an ‘I’ll start next week ‘. I’m so tired of it but feel encouraged today to really give it an honest go. There is 56% of 2019 left, lots of time to make it my best year yet. Thanks for the information and inspiration!!

    1. Exactly – you can still make 2019 the year you changed your relationship with alcohol for good! I know how hard it can be when you’re trying to figure this all out on your own – if you need some help and accountability to stop drinking and stick at it, definitely check out my online course. I only run it a few times a year, but the next class starts quite soon: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

  5. I can’t even tell you the number of times I quit and then restarted. Sometimes I wanted to quit for good but backslid, sometimes I was just “taking a break”. This last time I was almost afraid to try- I imagined my friends thinking, “Oh boy! Courtney’s quitting again. I can’t keep track of whether she is or isn’t drinking!” (There was actually some truth to that- I had friends offer me alcohol tentatively with a quizzical look, because they really didn’t know!) I had lost faith in myself and almost felt ridiculous. However…I decided to give it ONE MORE TRY. I signed up for Kate’s course because I knew six weeks of accountability and consistent reinforcement would be incredibly helpful- and it was. I did every lesson in a timely manner, usually first thing in the morning. One critical element was that I finally found community- in the class and on social media. I didn’t have to do it all alone! I ordered books, made my Instagram a sober space, bought tons of new and fun alcohol-free beverage options, and journaled. I found a whole world out there I didn’t know existed! A joyful, cool, positive, colorful world of people who do or don’t identify as alcoholics, but who have found tremendous joy, peace, and FUN after struggling for years to rid themselves of alcohol. I am so happy that I can now say the words: “I don’t drink.” “I have quit for good.” It took me years…but I did it. Don’t give up! Give it a try- if it’s the first time or the tenth.

    1. Wow – what an inspiring post! Thanks for sharing this Courtney. I’m delighted to hear how well things are going for you now ❤️

  6. Thanks Kate. I am on the wait list for your next course. Is there a support group with The Sober School?

    1. Hi Karen, everyone taking the July class will start on the same day (Monday 8th) There are discussion boards and a chat function built into the course website, so you get an instant support network as you work through the 6 week course. It all happens online. After you finish the class, you’ll also have the option of joining my secret graduates Facebook group – this is a great way to get long term support (and benefit from the wisdom of my older clients, who are several months/ years into their alcohol free journey!)

        1. Hi Karen, registration for my coaching programme will open on Monday 1st July. I’ll send you an email then with all the information you need and details of how to sign up, should you wish to join 🙂

  7. I have to admit I have lost count of the times I have quit drinking, sometimes for months, only to slip back into old, bad habits! However, I agree 100% with Kate, no matter how many times you don’t succeed at least you are trying. I am 12 days in currently and I honestly think something has “clicked” this time. I’m hoping to sign up to Kate’s July course as, like Courtney said, I think having a community of likeminded women for support will be invaluable. Bring it on!! 🙂

  8. This email was very timely, I have been struggling greatly. I want to stop but as your blog said the excuses come up easily. I think I came to a point today where I will turn this around. My husbands health is suffering, hopefully it is something that a healthy lifestyle can help, the alternative is scary. I have gained weight from the alcohol and I feel miserable. I am travelling for a work conference with a colleague for the next few days and while I’m away I’m going to use it as an opportunity to change some of my habits. I told my husband tonight when I get back we are going on a journey to make some changes in our life.

  9. I am 28 days sober. There is some discomfort. I’m noticing how emotional I’m feeling these days. I’m not use to feeling this way as I always covered my emotions with wine. Now I have to deal with the feelings. Sometimes I just want to go to sleep and get the day over with. I feel super tired and a little depressed and cranky. I hope these are normal side effects of giving up the booze. Would love to hear from others if this is normal.. however, even feeling like this is better than being drunk and acting like a fool and waking up ill. Thanks for the blog, Kate I look so forward to your new posts.

  10. Anna, congrats on your 28 days, that is huge! What you are feeling and experiencing is completely normal, I’ve been there myself but the great news is that this period of adjustment won’t last! Not only are you recovering physically, but as you say all the emotions that were previously numbed out by wine are suddenly bubbling up to the surface. You are carving out new pathways in your mind and emotions, away from the old ones that have been so deeply engrained and that is an exhausting process! I say if you feel like sleeping, sleep! You don’t have to figure everything out in a day, or a week, or even a month. Just have faith that this is all part of the process and KEEP GOING, one day at a time. You got this!

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