“I am not going to drink this week.”
I used to make promises like this ALL the time. Sometimes I’d stick to my plan for a few days – and sometimes I’d change my mind within a few hours.
It was all too easy to give up on my sober goals and delay them until next week or next month. 😕
Perhaps you can relate?
It was ages before I realised that I’d been forgetting to include something very, very important in the goal setting process: ACCOUNTABILITY.
Why accountability works
When you have someone – or something – keeping you accountable to your goals, it can be incredibly powerful. You dramatically increase the odds of you staying committed and following through on your promises.
Studies have shown that when you share your goals with others, you’re twice as likely to achieve them than if you keep the goals to yourself.
It makes sense, right? When you’re being kept accountable, you can’t just quit when things get tough. You can’t dismiss your goals or pretend they never really existed. You have to figure things out and stay committed to them.
Before you start
Make sure you pick a clear and achievable sober goal. Big, vague goals rarely work and a ‘forever’ commitment can be terrifying. Deciding that you’re quitting for good is almost impossible to picture, so your brain starts wavering on the commitment and you feel overwhelmed.
Instead, I recommend making a firm commitment for a shorter period of time – somewhere between 40 and 100 days is ideal. Let your brain teach your brain that you ARE good at staying committed and sticking to your word.
How to add accountability
Feel free to try out some or all of the following:
Sign a commitment contract
This is a binding agreement that you sign with yourself to ensure you follow through on your goals. Stickk.com is a website that allows you to set up a commitment contract and put some teeth behind it by adding a monetary value!
This means you have to hand over cash if you don’t follow through. You decide in advance where the money goes to – just imagine how motivating it would be to pick a person or organisation that you really don’t want to give any money to!
Ask someone to keep you accountable
This can be really powerful if you pick the right person – it needs to be someone you trust and respect. One of the women on my stop drinking course asked her best friend to check in with her on a daily basis, so she had an extra layer of accountability in early sobriety.
Every morning, her friend would text to ask, “did you stick to your alcohol-free plan yesterday?” My client knew she’d never lie to her friend and she couldn’t stand the idea of having to reply with a ‘no’. It turned out to be a really strong deterrent!
Stay accountable to a group
I’d strongly recommend seeking out some kind of support group. This doesn’t have to be face to face – online communities are also incredibly motivating. My stop drinking course is a group coaching programme for this very reason.
When you’re working on a goal at exactly the same time as everyone else, you feel accountable to the group. And if you’re struggling, being able to reach out to other people who get it – but are ploughing on regardless – is very inspiring.
Use a habit tracker
Apps like Sober Time or Productive will help you keep a day-by-day record of specific goals. There’s something strangely powerful about tracking your progress and seeing the days add up – you will not want to break a winning streak!
Plan exciting rewards
Staying accountable isn’t just about avoiding negative consequences – positive reinforcement is a great method for staying accountable as well.
I’m a big believer in splurging on sober treats, because when you stop drinking, you free up some serious time and cash. So, go on – treat yourself. Don’t just celebrate the big goal – honour the smaller milestones along the way as well.
How do you stay committed?
Leave a comment below and let us know how you’ve kept yourself accountable to your alcohol-free goals, or if you have any tips to share! 🙂