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This post will explain the PLAN step in the three step process of PLAN-OBSERVE-EVALUATE.
Drink planning is pretty simple - it’s a matter of deciding today how much you’re going to drink tomorrow.
Planning does 3 things (especially if you write it down.)
FIRST, having a specific concrete target makes it so much easier to stick to than just having a vague idea of wanting to drink less.
The fact that you plan a day at a time, taking into account realistically where you’re at in you’re drinking journey, and considering what’s actually going in your life on the day being planned, is far more powerful than some arbitrary rule like ‘not drinking on weekdays.' You've probably tried things like that, and I bet they didn't work.
But when you do this daily plan for the next day only, it has more power as a meaningful constraint. And although the goal is to get to where you naturally drink an appropriate amount without constraint, the path to that goal involves living with constraint.
SECOND, it creates a clear measure of success. People often have a view of themselves as failures around alcohol, and so even if they do drink less sometimes, they still see that situation as a failure because they compare themselves to some arbitrary standard. But if you plan to have 3, even if 3 is not where you eventually would want to be, and you meet your plan, that's a win. A process built on successive small wins and gradual progress is one that you'll stick with.
THIRD, it creates a clear measurement of failure. Let’s say you plan to have 3 drinks, but end up having 4. You want to focus your attention (using the principles of the OBSERVE step) on what happened when you decided to have that 4th. You want to identify the thoughts and feelings you were experiencing in that moment, and focus your troubleshooting efforts there.
Proper planning is a progressive process. You can’t start out planning to make huge changes in your drinking, it just doesn’t work. In fact even implementation of the planning process is progressive. As simple as it seems, very few people are able to become consistent planners straightaway - just the creation of this is an effort - and useful practice - in creating healthy habits.
With respect to planning your drinking, I recommend that people initially plan to drink pretty much what they would have normally drank. By starting gradually you can get some wins under your belt. You start to create evidence that you can implement a healthy habit, and that you can stick to your intentions. You create an identity of ‘I do what I say’ and this becomes a powerful force in your transformation.
When you have a plan in place, the Observe step is pretty much the same as I already described, except that you have that particular period to focus on, when you’ve finished the plan and are considering to go over it.
In the next lesson 'll explain the EVALUATION process, where you begin to turn your insights into action.