I want to drink less alcohol.
How? State the intention: drink less alcohol.
- In the Stanford lab, we call this a gray span behavior: decreasing the intensity or duration of an existing behavior for the foreseeable future.
How? Clarify the goal: Enjoy 1 alcoholic beverage (any time I drink) for the next month.
- When designing a gray span behavior, focus on a shorter time period (watch 1 hour of television instead of 2), and/or lower intensity (drink 1 glass of wine with dinner instead of 3 glasses) for a specified amount of time.
Ok, great. But how? Focus on triggers first: remove triggers that cause the undesired behavior and increase triggers that enhance the desired behavior.
- Instead of seeing my wine glasses every day, I boxed them up out of sight.
- There is a white board in my kitchen next to the wine glasses. Every time I drink alcohol, I must record the number of drinks I had.
- Every time I drink alcohol, I send my friend a photo to capture the reality.
If triggers are not enough to produce the behavior, then focus on ability. Meaning, make it harder to drink by not keeping alcohol in the house. If the behavior still requires extra strategy, focus on motivation. Meaning, spend more time with people who are sober and less time with people who drink. Attend AA meetings with friends. Sign up for an online goal setting challenge, like StickK.