Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Tips for Successful Dry January, or Other New Year Goals

A new year is an opportunity to make progress on wellness goals.  This is the 10th year for the Dry January challenge.

The Stages of Change Model, created by American psychologists James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, includes the following stages for behavior change:

  1. Precontemplation, where the desire to change is not yet apparent;
  2. Contemplation, where the need to change is recognized;
  3. Preparation, where planning to achieve change has begun;
  4. Action, where the plan is initiated; and
  5. Maintenance, where the change is sustained.

Preparing to forgo alcohol or junk food might begin by removing it from your home.  Sharing your goals with a friend or family member might strengthen the commitment.  Replacing the cocktail or sweet treat with a soothing cup of tea or walk about the neighborhood might support your behavior change.  And anticipating you might drift from your goal, and have a glass of wine or a cookie, will free you from catastrophizing a small mistake and giving up. 

Takeaway: I love sunrises because they symbolize another opportunity to make healthy decisions.  Well-being is a journey, not a quick fix. 

Source Ian Hamilton and Suzi Gage, How to Make Dry January a Success, The Conversation as summarized in Neuroscience News, Jan. 3, 2022,

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