There’s some fascinating research from the late 90s, called The Radish Experiment (I know, great name!), that posits that willpower is a finite resource. And the more decisions we have to make during the day, the less willpower we have left at the end.
Basically, if you REALLY want chocolate biccies and are surrounded by chocolate biccies, but have been told that you can only have radishes, there's a good chance you'll get fed up and chuck the towel in. It is argued that this is why, at the end of a long day, we turn to Netflix and pizza, instead of eating some steamed fish and getting our butts to the gym.
We now know that willpower isn't about strength of character or moral choices: when we’re tired and have been wrestling with hard decisions all day, it’s a lot easier to make good choices if we’ve done some forward planning.
Especially when we’re changing our habits. Make it easy, make it automated.
This is super powerful when we decide we want to drink less, especially when it comes to avoiding the dreaded wine o’clock. There are three easy steps that I recommend.
Don’t leave it until the last minute to decide what you’ll be drinking later, that way it’s too easy to get derailed. Choose what you’ll be drinking – Ginger Beer, Elderflower Cordial and beautiful teas are my faves – and reorganise so the alcoholic drinks are less visible and convenient.
In the 21 Day Reset course we talk about Habit Loops and the Cue->Behaviour->Reward loop. When a desire is triggered, it’s because we want to Feel a certain way. Drinking is the Behaviour we use to get to the Reward (the Feeling). I used to drink because I wanted to relax, to feel like my adulting part of the day was finished. I replaced my drinking with baths! Inconvenient, but it worked – it helped me relax and escape my responsibilities for 20 mins. What feeling are you looking for at wine o’clock? How can you feel that way without drinking? Do you need to dance, walk, go to the gym, meditate, phone your mum, sit down with something grown up and sophisticated to sip and nibble? Brainstorm & get a liost of possible.
There is something very powerful about writing down our intention. It also makes it super easy to implement. James Clear in his book Atomic Habits, calls this the “implementation intention”. We call it our Daily Freedom Plan.
Write it down the night before if you can, or each morning. You’re making it easy for yourself. You’re also removing any worries about deprivation in your mind. There is no “I’m never drinking again”, just “I’m not drinking today”. We can all do that. Just one day.
We have no idea what the rest of lives will hold, but we do know (generally) what’s going on in the next 24 hours.
So give yourself a strong Daily Freedom Plan, and then just follow it.
Try it tonight and let me know how you go x