How do you get clear and follow through on your intentions?

This topic has come up a lot recently during the Discovery sessions with new clients.

I really do believe we have the power to create intentions for ourselves and stick to them…

More power than we sometimes give ourselves credit for! 

I’ll give you a couple of examples:

My intention is to be able to enjoy a glass of wine as an accompaniment to a meal – as an extension of a sensory experience.

To stay fully present, never “checking out” and to find other ways to relieve stress and worry.

To consistently seek healthier alternatives for my body.

To nourish my body, treat it as a temple, and never abuse it.

Therefore, to justify my intentions into my own personal drinking agreement, I must avoid the following:

  • Feeling tipsy or get drunk (which means for me, never drinking more than about 7 oz over the course of an evening… more on this in my next post)

  • Using alcohol as stress relief

  • Using alcohol as a way to “get out of my head”

  • Drinking hard alcohol

This is how it showed up in my life very recently:

A few days ago I’d had a really looooooong day, after a relatively sleepless night. Arriving home after dark, after an impromptu emergency coaching session which had required all of my last reserves… All I wanted was to unwind. I was also incredibly hungry.

My partner and I were doing the switcheroo/quick hand off – he had been home with the baby and 10 minutes after I arrived home, had to leave for a few hours of work in the evening.

During those 10 minutes, we had a silly fight about some of the groceries that had run out without me knowing – and there was hardly any food in the house (according to me, because we were out of everything I wanted in that moment).

After he left, I sat staring at the opened bottle of red wine sitting on the counter. It was already open! It would have been so easy to pour a glass. All I wanted in that moment was to feel better. I was also craving cheese. Bread, cheese and wine. All at my fingertips.

Instead, I took a few deep breaths, and reminded myself of my intentions. I also took a moment to remind myself that a large part of how “spun out” I was feeling was probably due to lack of sleep and the fact I hadn’t eaten properly since the morning.

I started to make myself a smoothie bowl instead. Mango, strawberries, a bit of pineapple, spinach, coconut water, chia, and some hemp protein. I poured it into a bowl and topped it with homemade granola. It wasn’t as pretty as the smoothie bowls on instagram but it did the trick.

I was eating spoonfuls of delicious nutritious goodness in the same amount of time  it would have taken me to cut the bread and cheese and pour the wine. 

The homemade granola was made by my guy and as I savoured the taste, I was reminded of how many great things he does to contribute to our household (even though sometimes he finishes things and forgets to put them on the grocery list 😉

That feeling of gratitude helped remind me that at times like this, it’s extra important to practice gratitudes. So I sat slurping my smoothie bowl, filling my body with plant power and wholesome goodness, and feeling super grateful instead of stressed.

I was also incredibly proud of myself for actively creating a new way of being for myself. A new response to stress.

Yes, it still sometimes takes this level of conscious practice to stick to your intentions! 

Here’s an example from one of my recent conversations.

Mattie (name changed) was having a really tough time at home. She had been feeling very isolated and unfulfilled in her life, and had begun day-drinking in secret to get through the days.

She decided that she was going to take a 60 day break from alcohol to reset her habits. We discussed her intentions for when she would begin drinking again.

  • She would drink socially and with supportive friends who were clear on her new limits

  • She would only drink wine or beer

  • She would only drink when she was in a “good place”

These intentions were to offset her triggers of feeling sad, lonely, isolated and wanting to escape.

We also made a list of all of her “superpowers” – innate qualities she has within herself, and easily accessible, as well as alternate activities that will help her get through the challenging times when she’s feeling triggered and all she wants is a drink.

A couple of days after our session, Mattie emailed me with an interesting question. She wanted to know what I thought about her setting new intentions for her vacation, which landed during her 60 days sober.

She felt that her holiday would remove her from her usually triggers, and therefore wanted to create a new set of “rules” for herself.

I was supportive of her decision for the following reasons:

  • She was putting a lot of forethought into the decision

  • She was committed to creating clear guidelines for herself for her vacations, and communicating those to her partner

  • She had found an accountability buddy to share her intentions with, and she was sharing them with me as well

  • She was committed to still doing the 60 days sober when she returned home, which is where her real “work” was located.

This is why I love this holistic approach to alcohol moderation. There is no “one size fits all” model.

For some, long periods of abstinence is what’s desired. For others, it’s periods of abstinence combined with clear guidelines around moderation.

Either way, clear intentions help remove some of the “noise” of internal debate and the guess-work out of how to respond to triggers. 

The keys are always:

  • Clarity of intentions

  • Understanding your triggers

  • Finding alternatives

  • Reaching for support

How do you create and stick to your intentions? What are your intentions around alcohol? I´d love to hear in the comments!