How The “It Would Be Nice If” Statement Can Help You

Part of the process for taking control of your drinking is finding your WHY.

I’m sure you have some ideas about why you want to cut back. But do those ideas inspire you to take action?

Here are the common WHY I hear in my conversations with clients and on consults:

  • For my health
  • To lose some weight
  • To be a better example to my kids
  • To feel better
  • To be more productive/motivated
  • To be in a better mood

These are perfectly good reasons. The problem is that when they’re expressed like this, they aren’t very compelling and they don’t inspire action.

Am I right?

Some of them have an underlying sentiment of “I suck and I need to be better”. A thought like that is more likely to create shame and regret than inspiration. The most likely action to follow from those emotions is more drinking.

Pain and fear are the most potent motivators, but they only work in the short term to push us away from something that’s right in our face. If you need to take action in a more sustained way to get what you really want, you need some positive emotion that will pull you through a process.

Your opportunity is to clarify your thinking about your WHY so that you can take inspiration from it.

How To Clarify Your Thinking

One way to do this is to perform some editorial work on your WHYs; rephrase them around so they express something positive that you want to move towards.


  • I want to lose weight to improve my sex life or play a sport or impress people (nothing wrong with a little vanity)
  • I want to be a fun and active grandparent to my grandkids
  • I want to show my kids a shining example of presence and discipline so they can develop those characteristics more easily and have successful lives
  • I want to make more money (that’s a lot more interesting than “be more productive,” right?)
  • I want to feel proud of myself as a man

I’m going to suggest that you go even deeper and investigate your true desires for your life. Frankly, I have a hard time responding to the question “what do I want?” – I get caught up in worries about greediness, gratitude, and being realistic.

Here’s a different statement that works better for me:

“It would be nice if”

For example, I can’t bring myself to acknowledge that “I want a Tesla”. However, I can write down “it would be nice to have a Tesla”.

Maybe this is because having a Tesla isn’t that important to me. But our brains are tricky and will block us from our desires.


So try using the “it would be nice if…” writing prompt to get out onto a sheet of paper all the cool things. Then and only then, filter out the stuff that you might want.

Do this exercise (in writing if you really want to get the benefit) and see if this helps you create for yourself some compelling WHYs related to your drinking that will inspire you into action and keep you moving.

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