New Year is the traditional time to change your life by giving something up or starting something new, so what works and what doesn’t?

Whether you want to give up some weight, stop smoking, drinking or gambling, the first stage is deciding to quit.

If you need a nudge to get you to that point, make a list of all the good things about whatever it is you want to stop, and the bad things, and see which is longer.

What would you and your life look like without that thing being part of it any more? Like what you see?


Make a date

Once you’ve decided to commit to change, make a date to start doing things differently. It doesn’t have to be January 1, but it will help your commitment if it’s a date that’s meaningful to you.

Unless you’re the cold turkey type, don’t do it immediately, but don’t leave it too long either. Capitalise on your resolve.

Now you need to make sure you have the help around that you need to make your resolution stick. Depending on the severity of your addiction (or whatever it is you’re giving up), this might be friends and family, or an independent mentor, or professional medical people.

If you don’t have the people you need physically around you, research online and phone-based support groups.

Since COVID, many formerly face-to-face groups have switched over to Zoom and other digital platforms which are free and easy to use.


Know your triggers

These might be situations, or objects, or sounds, or people, or something else. Avoid them until they’re no longer triggering for you.

If your own house or work environment contains triggers for whatever you want to give up, change things around. Try and replace your personal triggers with objects or situations that inspire calmness and positivity.

For most people, withdrawals will come. That’s when you need something to keep yourself busy and active. Cultivate ways to get a healthy endorphin rush, for example from physical exercise or creating something.

Form new, positive habits.

When the inner voices come, go back to the lists you made at the start and remind yourself why you started on this journey.

Give yourself tangible rewards for each stage you succeed (one day, one week, one month, two months etc). In time, your new life will become its own reward.

Getting help

There are twelve step programs for all sorts of addictions these days, but if these don’t float your boat there are some other exciting things to try, particularly right here in the Northern Rivers of NSW.

For alcohol-related issues, check out How I Quit Alcohol. For peer support with gambling, particularly pokies, have a look at Kickin’ The Punt.

For people trying to give up smoking anywhere in the world, Quitnet has now become NOPE365, with the goal of ‘not one puff ever’. Their (free to join network) will help you keep track of how you have transformed your health and finances, providing reward reminders and peer support.


Heavy psychology

Finally, if you’re the kind of person who prefers sticks to carrots, the stickK approach draws on some heavy scientific firepower to help you achieve behavioural change.

The idea here is that you put a certain amount of money in trust with them, and you appoint a ‘policeman’ (usually a trusted loved one) to monitor your behaviour.

If you fail to achieve your ‘commitment’ to whatever it is (losing weight, giving up smoking etc) then your money is donated to a cause that you despise. Help yourself or help someone you hate, it’s up to you!

Since stickK’s founding in 2007, they’ve helped almost half a million people turn their lives around.

Happy New Year!


David Lowe