Kate's Blog

Stop Trying To “Be Good” – Do This Instead

When I was struggling with my drinking, I was always making promises:

“I must try to be good this week.”
“No wine for me thanks, I’m trying to be good!”

When I said “trying to be good,” I meant not drinking, of course. But funnily enough, later in the day I’d convince myself that having one drink (or maybe two) also counted as “being good.”

Do you catch yourself making the same, not-very-clear promises? 🤦‍♀️ If you do, today’s video will help you. It contains a much better way to handle this…

Key points

The problem with “trying to be good”

This promise is too vague and that sets you up for trouble. Being good could mean not drinking at all, just having one, or not drinking enough to get a hangover. This vagueness gives your brain too much wiggle room to work with in the moment. That’s when that voice in your head pops up and says, “Well just a small glass will be fine. Technically that is still being good…”

Why we like to set vague goals

Some people have so much experience of trying and failing – and then hating themselves – that it feels safer to set a vague goal (like trying to “be good”) to save yourself the pain of screwing up later. This can seem to make sense, but unfortunately, what seems protective in the moment creates more difficulty in the long run. A much better approach is to make a commitment to sobriety that is specific and concrete – something that we could all agree has either happened or not happened.

The important bit

When you make a specific and concrete commitment to sobriety, a lot of stuff will come up for you. You’ll have doubts, fears, questions and more doubts. It will feel terrible and that’s ok! This is actually a good thing, because then you can work through this stuff. You get the chance to think about what additional steps you need to take. Ask yourself: how can I prepare for this? How can I plan? Can I figure this out on my own or do I need some support? Doing that work will set you up for success and is the secret to staying sober in the long term.

Looking to create an alcohol-free life you love? Click here to learn more about my Getting Unstuck 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. 


24 responses

  1. Yup, the truly uncomfortable ” comfort zone”
    Through no fault of my own, I have had a major work disaster and I have to close down my operation for 10 days, including the lucrative bank holiday week-end. Zero income with no way to pay those bills! I came in a few minutes ago thinking “I’ll reach for the wine after I’ve read my emails” ( mid-afternoon GMT) Kate, you’ve saved me today. Thank you.

  2. Hi Kate,

    I have just listened to your message and I am making a commitment to begin by having 3 wine free days, this is so hard but your talks strengthen my resolve to changing my habit and becoming alcohol free
    Thank you so much

  3. Wise words.
    I’m 44 days sober and have committed to keeping it up for a year. After that, I shall decide if life was better with alcohol or without it.
    So far, things are so much better without.
    Good luck everyone.

  4. I’m so tired wrestling with this issue in my life. My goal is to not drink today, enjoy the peace of knowing I’m on a healthy path today and that I will wake up tomorrow a little less anxious.

    1. Keep going! The early days are some of the hardest, but if you stick with this you will get to the good bit. 🙂

  5. I have a “yearly” goal to not drink. For me it works. That way I am not thinking about alcohol everyday. I completed my first year, now I’m on my second.

    Still read your advice Everytime it is given


    1. Yes, just making that one decision not to drink takes away the daily questioning of “will I, won’t I” and reduces the mental chatter – good plan Cheryl 🙂

  6. Hi Kate
    I find your messages and advice so inspirational to help me on my long journey to conquer the wine – I lost my husband 14 months after 39 glorious years together. My drinking has escalated and the waking up with the regret and remorse out weighs the night before. I am getting there and you are a comfort to me. Thank you Kate

  7. Hi Kate
    Yes it is very tempting to make vague promises or to say ‘ I can’t really promise anything’
    My goal at the moment is no drinks in August but gave in twice so far.

  8. 13 months a f now Kate feeling proud and loving my new life. Still listening to your blogs and find them so true and they have been so helpful. I can honestly say to people who are trying persevere because it’s so worthwhile.

  9. I was very inspired about your videos and in March I stopped drinking for 4 months. Then in July we went for our dream holidays in Toscany where I knew I will have a local wine. My attitude towards drinking completely changed. I was satisfy with 2 glasses in the evenings. I guess it made me feel very confident so after holidays I didn’t stop drinking. Now it’s mid August and I know I need another big break. I don’t know if I will ever go completely sober but I really enjoy those big breaks. I love your videos as they remind me of the beauty of af life.

    1. Four months is a good amount of time to feel the benefits of alcohol-free living. By keeping the door open a little to drink say on holidays or special occasions, you continue the association that alcohol is essential to having a good time and it’s not. I wrote a blog about this moderation pattern that keeps you stuck here: https://thesoberschool.com/control-alcohol-intake/

  10. At work we always use SMART objectives. Specific, measured, achievable, realistic timebound. Makes ao much sense doesn’t it? I’d only I could Pply that to personal goals

    1. You can use the SMART acronym with sobriety if you wish for one day, one week, one month. Specific – don’t drink tonight. Measured – wake up hangover free tomorrow. Achievable – one day/week/month is doable. Realistic – choose a short enough time that you can visualise. Timebound – 24 hours/7 days/31 days at a time.

  11. I commit to not drinking alcohol before 27th May 2024. That will be a year to the day I fell off my bike, cycling home while drunk, and sustained multiple injuries. I want a year to cover most alcohol free firsts, such as summer holiday, Christmas, birthday etc. I also want to develop resilience to emotional challenges without recourse to alcohol.

    1. Great long term goal Rowan 🙂 I suggest you set smaller ones to get you there so you can celebrate along the way. Celebrating progress is just as important as the bigger goal.

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