When it comes to stopping drinking and staying motivated, one of the best action steps you can take is to figure out your WHY.
Because let’s be real here – sobriety ain’t no walk in the park. There will always be ups and downs, challenges and times when you think ‘I can’t be bothered with this.’
In those moments when you’re close to giving up, knowing your ‘why’ can give you the extra push you need to keep going.
Most people think they’re stopping drinking because they’re fed up of feeling hungover. Or they want to be healthier or save money.
And those are all great reasons for quitting, but they’re probably not the real reason you’re doing this. Your real ‘why’ goes much deeper than that – and this is exactly what you need to tap in to.
Here are 3 steps to help you do just that:
Get a pen and paper.
Write down why you want to stop drinking, so you can see your reasons in black and white. Just thinking about them isn’t the same – your thoughts will come and go, sometimes they get jumbled up and sometimes we just forget. You can write your reasons on your phone or laptop if you like, but experts have found that we’re more engaged when we write things out by hand.
Set a timer for 20 minutes and keep writing.
You want to write down as much as you can, as soon as it comes into your head. Once you’ve written down everything you can think of, go back to each reason and ask ‘but why?’. Keep doing this over and over again, until you get to the heart behind what’s really motivating you.
I want to stop drinking because I hate not being able to recall what happened the night before.
Because I keep having conversations I can’t remember.
Because I hate the way my children sigh when I start telling them something I’ve already said.
Because I want to set a good example for my kids. I want to look after them and protect them.
I want to stop drinking because I hate how hungover I am the next day.
Because when I feel hungover I’m so lethargic, I never seem to get anything done.
Because I’m falling behind at work and I’m scared my boss will notice.
Because I know I’m not living up to my potential – I’m drifting through life.
I want to stop drinking because I keep saying things I regret.
I’m fed up of being that woman – the one who always makes a fool of herself.
Because I want to be in control of myself. I want to be happy and calm.
I want to stop drinking because I’m scared of people finding out how much I really drink.
Because I’m tired of hiding my drinking. All the covering up is exhausting me.
Because I don’t want to have any secrets from my family.
Because I want my loved ones to be proud of me.
Do you see how when you dig deeper, you uncover reasons you hadn’t thought of, or perhaps hadn’t acknowledged?
These reasons are far more powerful than just ‘I want to stop drinking for the sake of my health.’ Of course, health is important, but it’s also quite vague. You should always get specific; what is it about your health that concerns you exactly? Have you put on weight? Is it something your doctor said at your last check up? Drill down to the nitty gritty.
Put this list somewhere you can see it daily.
Tuck it into your purse or diary. You could photograph it and keep a copy on your phone. Just make sure you can come back to it easily. This is going to be your motivation. This is what’s going to power you through those doubts and wobbles. Don’t be scared of looking at this list and don’t forget about it. This is why you’re doing this. This is why you want to change.
So, what’s your why?
I’d love to hear what’s motivating you to stop drinking. Be very, very specific!
I just feel as if drinking is becoming my crutch. It’s always the thing I want to do when there is nothing to do! I find I am thinking about a glass of wine at all times. My partner comes home and I have started especially on weekends when I like “a drink” in the afternoon. Plus when I have one I have a bottle then move on to another bottle.
I’m sober for just over 9 months and I enjoy being present in every moment of my life right now. That’s THE most important reason for me to quit alcohol. I drank for 40 years….missing in action for many important days in my life. I love life now…..sober
How old are you now if you don’t mind my asking?
Im from a family of alcoholics have quit drinking several times and im doing it again for the start of 2018 only been few days but already feel better how do I stay that way everyone I know drinks Ive had alot of tragedy lately and was drinking more then ever but still going to work hopeing not to smell like alcohol cuz I drank so much the night before.Im looking for support group in my area I dont care for aa and cant afford rehab.I really want to do it this time and Im tired of saying Im sorry all the time.want to stay sober.
Hi Denise, registration for my online stop drinking course is open now – I think this might be the kind of thing you’re looking for? https://thesoberschool.com/getting-unstuck/
Denise, I’ve signed up for the course and already, even before the course has started we are helping each other in the private discussion space. I was umm ing and arr ing about joining but already I’m so glad I did.
I can relate to all your saying. I too was always worried about reeking at work, being so hungover literally with hands trembling, trying to act normal. Thinking “they” don’t know. I’m sure they all did. Counting the hours until I could have a drink, which with me really meant guzzling down wine. I work at a high school, get off work by 4:00, hence easily drunk by dinner time. I was seeking the oblivion & boy did I achieve that!
I took Kate’s course in July, had many set backs & start overs. I now have 3 months AF & haven’t felt better in years. My whole thinking has completely changed. With the Sober School you have access to the course forever!
You should go for it. I at first told myself I could not afford it. Then in the continuing months spent WAY more money on the poison we call alcohol.
In some ways 3 months doesn’t really seem that long but in the way I now think it feels like a new life. The constant thinking/obsessing was exshausting! The hangovers were debilitating, literally.It would take at least a week to recover from a good bender. When I was on day 5, my boyfriend had 19 years of sobriety & said to me how 5 days is so much harder than the 19 years!You CAN do this!
I feel exactly the same but at the same time never drinking again equally terrifies me! I hate not being able to drink like a ‘normal person’ but finding it hard to accept I must stop.
I would always have said I hated the hangovers and that was a good enough reason to quit but actually the hangovers stopped me doing anything with my life other than just getting by. So specifically I need to stay sober so I can live fully, confront my demons, evaluate my values and work towards what might make me truly hopeful, peaceful and satisfied – none of which I experienced whilst drinking.
Those are great reasons for pursuing an alcohol-free lifestyle 🙂
I want to be present for my kids, I want to lose weight, I want to stay young, I want to be alert and alive in the evening and get things done that would normally be left (sink full of dishes etc) I want to give a shit and live my reality without sanding down the edges with wine. I’m not drinking to excess regularly, but I was drinking regularly, and I was thinking about buying a bottle and checking the clock to see when it would be acceptable to pour a glass ALL THE TIME, even though it would last at least two nights.
I don’t have much time or opportunity for nights out these days but there would be times I would go hard and completely and utterly regret it the next day. Not worth it at all. It will be two weeks tomorrow since my last drink and each day I am gaining strength and resolve not to drink it each day. I used to drink very heavily in my twenties and now I’m in my thirties although the amount has reduced the mental attachment to it is worrying and annoying. I want a clean break and for the first time in my life I’m not scared or freaked out by the thought of never having another drink again.
Congratulations on your two weeks Laine, that’s brilliant – keep going! 🙂
“I want to be alert and alive…..I want to give a shit and live my reality without sanding down the edges with wine.”
Well said Laine.
Congratulations on your two weeks & keep giving a shit!
Yes … well said! “I want to give a shit and live my reality without sanding down the edges with wine”. I’m using THAT quote when people ask me why I’m not drinking …
I want to wake up knowing that I have made a difference in this world. I do not want to be known as a drunk, no one has ever out right said that (to my face anyways). I no longer want to go downtown on my own, out of boredom, sure I know many people, and have many “friends” down there, but these are the same “friends” that always say it is perfectly normal to “go out for a few, it’s a stress reliever”, “we work our a**s*s off”, “we live in paradise, 10 am is a perfect beach beer time”!! I know I am stronger than these people, I am not judging them, I just know I want more, and I have SO much to give this life! I feel trapped in a class 5 rapid, or a washing machine. Clean for weeks, one embarrassing night out, cannot physically move the next day, and I truly mean unable to move, unless it is to vomit in the bucket next to the bed, then back on the clean path, only to fall from grace once again. The cycle is vicious. It is a monster. The funny thing about it all is that I don’t even really enjoy being buzzed! I know I have a purpose. Success is my destiny. That is all 🙂
I feel the same, I don’t judge anyone on wanting a drink, I’m 24 days without one but I was on the same vicious cycle for 14 years, I’m 33 now and I know I have more to offer, to contribute, to give to the world. I don’t want to be just some stupid girl who makes an arse out of herself and doesn’t remember the next day. Kudos to you for raising the bar for yourself. Onwards!
I just saw your reply. It fired me up! As I have just replied to Shannon, I slid off track recently…. I am choosing to focus on not that I “failed”, yet how to not lose sight of my purpose. Your 24 days on May 23 inspired me. I look forward to having that many clean days under my belt again!
Peace, productivity, and positivity.
I do the same thing. Sober for weeks then a 3 day drunk. Then of course the crushing hangover. Which I have right now. I was feeling so good during my proper break from booze. My eyes were white again,I was sleeping well & eating well.
Shannon I did it again as well, did two weeks, then decided one afternoon to have just a few pints, granted I did not exceed the few pints, but I broke my streak of not going to work with a hangover once this year! The disappointment!!!! I am back on. I will continue to fight against the booze until I succeed. Hope you are pressing on as well. Many positive thoughts to you 🙂
Thank you. I’m still not feeling quite up to par. I’m so hard on myself. Trying not to listen to all the negativity that goes through my head about what a worthless loser I am. But today is a new day, I will not drink today. Knowing I will feel a bit better everyday. Havent slept but a few hours the last three nights , hopefully tonight. Talk about weird nightmares though, not restful at all.
Im drinking wine right now after a hard day at work and if i am starting to run out i will order more i feel trapped in a horrible cyle cant seem to deal with reality but I know its time to change went to aa didnt like it went back to drinking wish i had a close friend but the one i did have is no longer close for reasons that hurt deaply please help
Janet. You’ve got this. Start with this moment. I believe in your strength.
Hello. Thank you for your blog – it helps me stay focused on sobriety. I have been sober for almost one year. It has become part of my identity – when I think about myself, I always think that either I don’t drink or that I am sober. But over the past year, it has become less and less of a focus for me. It is simply something I do not do any longer.
As I read over this post, I remembered writing down all the reasons I wanted to be sober. This exercise is powerful and reinforces itself over time – I had my list up on my wall for more than six months. And now, nearly a year later, I know that my husband and children are proud of me, I no longer have hangovers and can remember people and events.
More than anything, I love that sobriety has brought about meaningful relationships in my life. People want to be with me now and I am proud of myself. I could not say that almost a year ago.
It’s great to hear how much has changed for you over the past year – and I love that you had your list on the wall for six months! Congratulations Kelly 🙂
This is where I want to be … But always seems to be some event that makes it difficult … All my friends drink have a concert this weekend and half dreading it
Laine’s comment hit home with me. I am still drinking and went out earlier today to buy wine and beer (not for me, of course, but for any “friends” who may call in…..). I don’t black out, I don’t have hangovers, I don’t feel as if I have a drinking problem and yet I drink every day, and my start time is becoming earlier now that I am retired, and I constantly feel as if I should cut down or stop. On a recent holiday staying with a non-drinking friend a comment was made that she thought I am a “heavy drinker”… having consumed approximately five bottles of wine (50-60 units) in seven days and the comment hurt and made me feel ashamed for myself and my health. I think I would like to change but am afraid.
Valerie, your post really resonated with me – plus we share the same name! I so get the fear – alcohol becomes an integral part of our lives, a crutch, and we think there is no “life” without it. But believe me, you’re only living half a life when you share it with alcohol. And you’re retired! Lucky you! So many opportunities! I am hoping to retire next year and am so glad I am sober as there are so many things I want to do. Let your life wind up, not down, when you retire. Have you signed up for Kate’s course yet? If not, please do. If you’ve already done it, do it again as there is a lot of clarity the second time around. All the best!
Hi☺️ 9 months sober☺️
The reason I got sober,initially,
was because I wasn’t feeling physically and emotionally well. I had begun drinking more after I entered into a bad relationship with the wrong man. He drank terribly and it quickly became “if you can’t beat em’ join ’em” ( in no way trying to blame him because nobody was forcing me to drink) I realized that I could handle him better if we were both buzzed (red flag)
Long story short, I finally gave him the boot, but I realized I had developed my drinking to a dangerous level.
For months I was miserable.
I couldn’t seem to get over him and our parting. And kept drinking.Then I remembered the pickle.
A cucumber is just a cucumber until it is soaked in brine.
Then it becomes something that retains the look of a cucumber but will never dry up and return to dust, if you will.
My bad experience was like that cucumber in brine. I wasn’t allowing it to dry up and disappear so I could move on.
I pickled it.
Remove the brine, move on from the bad memories.
It’s working and worth it.
My pain over him is gone.
Stay strong ladies ✊
Congratulations on your 9 months Judy – you sound much happier now, in all areas of life 🙂
I have 4 months which seems like forever and no time at all. But I don’t miss the early morning social media check, phone check and trash can check to see if I could piece together my awful behavior from the night before. I don’t want to feel that panic and shame anymore and the burden of secrecy and feeling like a fraud. It’s so nice to face each day with the past in the past because I know I did nothing I regret!!
Hangover free mornings are a great way to start the day, right?! And 4 months is a great achievement – congratulations 🙂
Hello everyone! My name is Shelly and I have been struggling with my relationship with alcohol for a long time. I just went to see my Dr. Because I have been pretty depressed and lacking joy in my life. I asked if I should switch to a different antidepressant. My doc said that we can do that but nothing will really change until I deal with the elephant in the room, my use of alcohol to self medicate. It’s just not working anymore. I instantly started crying and said I’m not ready and I can’t do it. So I left and came to the closest happy hour, I ordered a beer and found this page. Maybe it’s the first step? Thank you all for sharing on this forum.
How did u finally give up ?
Your words speak to me.
Panic. Shame. Secrecy. Burden. FRAUD.
My friends, and I have always spoken of the “shame spiral” the day, or days after the booze festival.. It actually is SO much more than just that.
Thank you for your post, it has opened up my mind in regards to how dimensional the cycle is. I must journal immediately.
May you be enjoying this free and clear day! Keep up the hard work!! 🙂
Thank you for your exercise. I started my sober journey today. It’s nice to know I’m not alone!
I started yesterday as well. Feel brighter than normal this morning and slept much better! I just hope I can keep it up!! Good luck x
I want to be active and play with my children and the boring drunk mum.
I want to be available and responsible and not shunting them off to bed because I want to drink more or have already drunk too much.
I want to enjoy my kids while they are little.
I don’t want to be grumpy and snap at my partner or my kids, all because I have alcohol cravings.
I want to lose weight.
I want to do more with my life. I often drink through boredom, but drinking makes me stuck in life and less inclined to get up and do things to make life better.
I don’t want to be anxious and paranoid anymore.
I finally feel that I’m enough without alcohol and that I’d rather have relationships based on who I am, or not at all, not based on a mutual agreement to drown life in booze.
I’ve had a recent on/off relationship with alcohol, going 3 weeks without and then 2 weeks. This has clarified that definitely no relationship is better for me and makes me happier. I’m now only 3 days into the latest stint, but I feel very happy about it. I’m hoping it sticks and I have the strength I need to not bother with alcohol again.
I feel the same way am have always been in dysfunctional relationships and i know i need help pray that i can find it as i have to work to support my kids jan
Oh, ladies, thank you for sharing with such honesty. I am back at square one, but you’ve inspired me to try harder and make this “sober” lifestyle my story, too.
I want to be clear headed and energetic and present in my life, ups and downs. Looking back at my life it all seems like a blur. Drinking daily, just getting through the days on the path of least resistance. Doing the smallest things – doing dishes, laundry, taking a shower, etc., could seem almost impossible while hungover. Today is day 144 for me and I couldn’t be happier. My relationship has improved, my confidence, my appearance and overall health.
The thought of a drink does sneak up on me sometimes. Less and less lately, but when it does, I play the story through, and it is never a good ending. I’ve gained too much being AF and will not give that up for a poison.
Congratulations Janice – inspiring stuff! 🙂
I am on evening 3 so far. It’s been an emotional time as my Dad is currently dying in hospital with a brain tumour. I’ve always enjoyed my drink but when it comes to using it to block out the hurt it’s the worst thing to do. It’s really not easy though. Every time I visit him I just think of escaping with a bottle or two. I’ve had to be put to bed a couple of times by my friends. I have a 12 year old and feel so ashamed of myself. However, as I said, day 3 and I’m doing it.
Hi Mel, What you are going through is enough to make anyone want to drink. But being strong enough not to will have its rewards, you can remember your dad with a clear head and have no regrets. I can only imagine what you are going through. Your daughter will be fine. Kids are very resilient and by staying sober your relationship will take on a whole new level. Sending you hugs and positive vibes.
Take care. xxx
Hi there, I’m just reading these posts as I am now 1 week sober. I work full time and have a 12 yr old too and my mum is slowly deteriorating due to having strokes which have now caused dementia. Absolutely devastating to witness. My husband is a functioning alcoholic and if I am truly honest with myself, I may be too. I don’t drink to get drunk but have a history of being paralytic, black outs, injuries too. I don’t sleep well and my mind over thinks. I was sat here and felt the urges coming, my motivation waver. It’s my husband’s birthday tomorrow. Reading this is helping. I have even written out some of my reasons why and pretty sure there’s more. So thank you all. I hope to continue. I want to do it long enough to see the benefits that I also hope will spur me on.
I know that I’ve been drinking too much lately and I’m off on holiday tomorrow with my kids so a bit worried that il do something stupid or embarrass them & myself! Have you any tips while there? Your posts have been vey helpful thanks,colleen!
Hi Colleen, have a look through my blog archive before you go. Just search for ‘holiday’ and you’ll find lots of quick tips and advice. But if you’d like to change your relationship with alcohol for good, make sure you check out my coaching programme – I’d love to see you make some permanent lifestyle changes! https://thesoberschool.com/course/
10 days no wine. I only drank wine. Still miss holding the glass and sipping pretty much a whole bottle in a few hours. Because I text and say things I wouldn’t normally say sometimes when I drink, my husband said he won’t tolerate it any more. So now it’s fear.
I’m in AA and trying to find a reliable sponsor has been a challenge. What are your thoughts?
Sorry Kelly, can’t help you there! Most of the women I coach have tried AA but not had any success with it. If you’d like to find out more about my programme (all online, no meetings, no lifelong ‘recovery’) and be part of a great community, here are the details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
I have been sober for most of the year with just a few minor hiccups along the way. I have found this blog particulaly helpful in reminding me why I started on this path. Thank you, Kate.
I was doing great. Three weeks! Then I flew to CA to take care of my mom. She has dementia. She and her husband have cocktails every night. They bought me wine. My father was an alcoholic and committed suicide when I was 18. At 62 I’m finally facing I have issues with wine.
Thanks for this – so inspiring
This is probably my third or fourth true attempt to live AF. close to week 7 for me. a small slip to “celebrate ” my daughters birthday …which thankfully only turned into a 3-4 day binge …not the 14 day disasters of the past with a neat vodka to wake up with or leaning over to my dressing table to finish off wine from the day before. I am choosing not to dwell on my slip and happy to be moving forward. I think my main trigger for wanting a drink is when I am feeling angry. today I decided I am not going to let anger weaken my resolve. I can relate to every comment I have read above. we all go through a similar process around trying to manage our (unmanageable) relationship with alcohol. completing the “why” exercise is/was very confronting for me… I have a lot of personal growth to achieve which I think using alcohol has helped me to avoid for many years but… better late than never. Its always helpful reading others’ comments. we are not alone in this fight.
let’s keep fighting for ourselves!
I think some people might not understand how you are glad it only turned out to be a 3-4 day binge….I understand all too well. My last “slip” was a real dousy. I actually can’t even remember how many days it was, also hit the house with the new car & have absolutely NO recollection of it, or the days of drinking!
So I don’t really know how many days I’ve been AF, either 38 or 39 days. I have the flu today, started throwing up last night & this morning but was thinking how I grateful I am that it is not the bottle flu that I did to myself. Which would last as long or longer than the binge…and how physically, mentally & spiritually painful that is.
The days of detox with literally no sleep or eating for days. I now sleep so well, feel good about my future being AF. It is very hard to put the past behind us, but all we can do is move forward.
Today is a new day & I choose to see the positive in even the smallest if things….
Birds singing, the smell of freshly mowed grass,flowers blooming, clean sheets, a made bed to snuggle into at night….might sound silly to some but waking up each morning & NOT having a hangover is bliss!!!
We can do this!
Poison hurts in so many ways. Stay strong & positive.
thanks Shannon, we CAN do this!!
yes during one of my binges my car was slightly damaged not a person'(thank God) on another occasion my neighbours had to get me out of my car. I was listening to music and then I accidently locked myself in, slumped into some kind of alcohol “sleep”. It took great effort for them to rouse me and get me out without (thank God) having to call emergency services.
Maybe not many people have let their alcohol addiction get to them to this degree (yet) which is why I am sharing such blatant, personal detail. For me it was progressive ….I just kept pushing that line just that little bit further. Unfortunately I have found that the line stays where it is…this is where my addiction is at. I want others to know that this could be them if they don’t stop the monster from growing now. If I had a drink today I could end up in the same place as above,,, Maybe not,,,but this is the unpredictability Kate talks about. I am no longer prepared to take that chance.. and yeah the detox is a bitch (and can be very dangerous) – I managed my DTs with diazepam my GP had prescribed me or I would have needed a hospital admission). I do not ever wanna go back. I have some positive things to work on which will take energy, strength and courage. These changes will never happen with my friend/enemy alcohol on board. I have often said to my daughter “Do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be yeah” (Its because I love you – Doobie Brothers. I am a HUGE music fan)… she text it back to me the other day ….and it just highlighted to me how very far away I am from who I want to be…and I felt quite sad…but at the same time just that little bit more determined. Time for a change.
I wish everyone a sober Sunday (I am in Australia)
Kate, I just did the activity you described above and can’t BELIEVE what I found out by doing the Buy why’s…I always thought I drank just as a habit of “me time.” But the way you had us question our statement and dig deeper revealed something much much more. Something that was tied to my childhood and I have NEVER put those two togther. I couldn’t believe it. Thank you so much for your blog and giving me a method to help uncover the reasons behind why I’m picking up that wine bottle.
I realized for aprox 4months now that I need help with regards to giving up alcohol. I’ve had good days and mostly bad days. I drink every day and bottles upon bottles Friday to Sunday. I completely blackout and have no recollection of anything. I depend entirely on friends to tell me what I did, said, etc. Most of the time it involves me in a fight, argument, or just naturally faulty behavior. Of recent I even fought with a sibling, which then drove me to make the conclusion that YES, I DO NEED HELP; and I very badly want to have control of my life again. It was very hard admitting that and accepting it. At the moment I feel trapped even. The process of giving up alcohol is a long journey which I am currently having difficulty sticking too. I am seeing a therapist, I do auricular acupuncture and I have support from my family and friends. I stumbled upon this page whilst researching ‘How to say motivated whilst trying to say sober’. A lot of your comments hit home and made me comfortable in some weird way. To know that I am not the only human going through this. Thank You all for sharing… you never know when it may help a person… any where in the world.
I believe that I will one day… soon.. come back to this page and post a Happy, Healthy and Hearty message about my sobriety!