How to Get Sober, Stages of Change

I’m sharing a few tips for how to get started with any new habit including ditching the drink. I am starting a new habit of walking in the morning. This is something I’ve been considering for a while. For months I would say to myself “I should really get up and do that,” and then I would not get up and do that. Relatable?

I did this while drinking too. It is part of the contemplation stage of change. 

The stages of change model describes the process individuals go through as they make behavioral changes. The stages of change include:

  • Precontemplation or as I like to call it, blissfully unaware. In this stage you are unaware or resistive to the idea of change.
  • Contemplation. This is when you are starting to think about making a change. This stage can last a long time. In my case with alcohol it was years if not decades. For my new walk routine, I’ve probably been thinking about it for 6 months. I recognize the need for change, but I still have ambivalence about it. For your sober journey this is the stage I would call sober curiosity. With alcohol I was of a conflicted mind. I wanted to quit drinking, but I didn't want to quit drinking. I wanted to stop drinking, but right now I want a drink. Its the things that make you go hmmmm stage.
  • Preparation. This is where you become more determined to do something. For my walking routine it was when I finally set out my warm walking clothes and set my alarm. For your alcohol free journey it may look like signing up for a digital program like my  Jumpstart Course, joining a community like my  Insider Membership, or gathering resources. In this preparation stage you might be reading books or listening to podcasts about sobriety. You might stock your fridge with sparkling water or cancel the wine tasting event you planned on attending.
  • Action! This is where you take the steps to modify your behavior. This was me putting my shoes on and getting out the door. This is you turning down a drink. This is you not stopping at your local wine shop. This is you going to bed instead of sitting in your drinking corner. 
  • After successfully making a change you enter the maintenance stage. Some change models include termination as a stage when you stop the behavior. Relapse could be considered part of the change process as well. It is important to note that not everyone follows a linear path, especially with alcohol. You can move forward or backward through changes before sustaining long term success. That was my personal experience. 

I will share some tips for how I got from contemplation to action with my new morning walk routine. Remember preparation is the bridge from contemplation to action. I set out my clothes the night before, I told my daughter I was going to walk, and I set my alarm. When the alarm went off, I wanted to hit snooze and stay in bed, as I had so many times before. I remembered my clothes were already set out. This made it easier on me. I decided to do one lap around my neighborhood for just 15 - 20 minutes. That seemed like a doable thing to do this one morning. I wasn't committing to forever. I was taking one walk on this one morning. I did it. I felt so good afterwards. My mood lifted. My confidence grew. I got so many positive benefits from that one change. The momentum is now fueled to do it again and again. I have memory of how good that felt. I want to do it again. Day 2 was easier to get out of bed. I looked forward to it. I went even farther. By Day 3 I didn't even question it. No mental gymnastics. I just got up and did it gladly. I had to get that first round under my belt and you do too. Prepare yourself. Set yourself up for success. It’s time to move towards action. You will not get to where you want to go by doing what you've always done. You must try something new and different. Go in the direction you want to proceed. I don't think about not drinking anymore either. It feels so good to be sober that I have lost my desire to drink. This takes time but you can get there too. 

Hot tips for getting from contemplation to action in the stages of change: 


1- Low hanging fruit. What’s an easy first step? Now knock it down, what’s even easier? You are looking for quick wins to fuel your momentum. What is the easiest possible thing you can do to take ONE step towards ditching the drink today? Sign up for my INSIDER group? That’s an option! Just sign up! What is something simple that would move the needle 1% in the direction you want to go? Do that. 


2- Motivation follows action. You WILL meet resistance when trying something new. Expect it. Your body and brain crave what’s familiar even when it’s not good for you. You have to take the first step. The next step will feel easier because you’ll have muscle memory of how good it felt. Force yourself to do step one. Don’t overthink it. You'll have to power through the discomfort of doing something that doesn't come easy. Stop wrestling with thinking about it. Do the thing. Just do the thing this one time.


3- What do you want more? Of course you are of a conflicted mind and part of you wants to have a drink or keep drinking, but what do you want more? To be free from alcohol? To lose the desire to drink? To have your energy and headspace go to something bigger and better than thinking about drinking? What do you want more? Remind yourself of that. Go for the more meaningful thing. Improved relationships, better health. Whatever it is, what do you want even more than alcohol? That is what you are going towards.


4- Accountability. Stop keeping it a secret. Addiction of any kind thrives in isolation. One reason we keep it to ourselves is because we are afraid of failing long term. You can try something without deciding it’s forever. You can change your mind about things. Who can tell you what step you are going to take? Who can you report back to? Who can celebrate with you? I’ve got an idea, the INSIDER Members, but of course. Join us or not but find someone you can share your goal with. You can report your preparation and celebrate it. Find someone that can support you in making a change. 

I hope these ideas will help you on your alcohol free journey too. As a Coach, I work to get actionable results with my clients. If this is the type of support you are looking for, you can set up a  Complimentary Call with me to see if you are a fit to apply for my limited 1:1 Becoming Coaching Program.

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