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The STRIVE Method: Failure

Over the next few months, you will receive a series of articles sharing the philosophy and process of The STRIVE Method, the beating heart of 1000 Days Sober. The STRIVE Method is a six-step process of change, and 'Failure' comes from the first of those six steps: 'Stuck.'

How many times have you tried to stop drinking?

How many times have you tried to lose weight, meditate more, eat healthier, avoid sugar, not watch porn, not gamble, not spend too much time in front of video games?

If you answer 'plenty', then you have some evidence that you 'want' to change. 

So why isn't change happening?


Attribution is the process by which we perceive the causes of behaviours and events.

For example, if we know someone drinks too much alcohol, we investigate internally, leading to assumptions crystallised as facts. We could call this mind-reading. 

"Terry drinks too much because he doesn't care about his health."

We also use attribution internally. 

If you've tried and failed to stop drinking on numerous occasions, then the internal dialogue begins as you start attributing reasons for your failures.

I don't have enough willpower.

I don't have the right genes.

I don't have the right personality.

I don't have enough confidence.

I don't have enough motivation.

When it comes to attribution, we often externalise it, thus impeding the process of change.

I can't stop drinking if Tom won't stop.

I can't stop drinking if all of my friends drink.

I can't stop drinking, what will I do at the football game?

I can't stop drinking and still enjoy myself in the pub.


One of the critical emotions we have to develop if we want to be someone that doesn't drink alcohol is hope. Hope keeps us in the game. Hope keeps us in the arena. Hope gives us the energy to rebound when we hit a wall. 

If we have no awareness of internal and external attribution, then the constant negative self-talk can lead to hopelessness and despair. Our levels of hope oscillate. You may have found 1000 Days Sober after Googling for aid during a moment of hopelessness. Then you signed up for this experience, and hope emerges through the dark clouds. 


Another critical factor when it comes to failure is your readiness for change, and that's why we created The Strive Method.

Imagine, you decide that you want to quit alcohol on January 1st. The 'want' is there, and you feel a sense of hope.

Then after a few days of not drinking, your friends invite you out to a party, and the internal attribution begins. Soon you realise that you're not prepared to stop going to parties with your friends. You can't do it without drinking. 

Are you ready to stop going to the pub?

Are you ready to change your friends?

Are you ready to change your entire social structure?

Are you ready to start meditating?

Feeling Good author, David Burns, calls the failure to overcome these obstacles: Resistance, and breaks it down into 1. Process Resistance, and 2. Outcome Resistance.

In a nutshell vision.

Process Resistance

We want to stop drinking, but we're not prepared to do the work needed for effective change.

Outcome Resistance

We want to stop drinking, but we're not prepared to let go of the value that alcohol provides us, leading to intense cravings and desire. 

Readiness For Change

If you change anything in your life when you're not ready, then the likelihood that you'll fail due to excessive attribution heightens considerably. 


Due to the nature of luck in the game of poker, professional poker players learn to accept that they're going to lose more hands/tournaments/sessions than they will win. Successive losses are known as 'downswings', and the emotions are similar to someone who drinks (when they don't want to), and then develops a case of the 'f*ck-its.'

The best in the business have to develop the mental fortitude to deal with these losses. They do so by understanding the laws of randomness and not becoming attached to the outcome. Pros focus on how well they played each hand.

Pro poker players expect to lose; winning is a bonus.

We can adopt this same philosophy when it comes to our journey to become someone that doesn't drink alcohol. It's not rational to expect you to string together a run of 1000 days sober until you're ready to take action. Even then, you could repeat day 1's more often than you'd like.

We have to accept that failure is part of the process, and how we bounce back from it is more important than trying to avoid it. Some of the most experienced people who don't drink alcohol that I know had their Eureka moments during a case of the 'f*ck-its.'

Next Steps

How does internal and external attribution show up in your life?

How can you increase your levels of hope?

Share your feelings on your attempts to stop drinking, and how failure ties into that. Write honestly and from the heart. 

Finally, take a look at what you've written, and see if you can reframe it so 'failure' is viewed in a more positive light.

If you want to learn more about The STRIVE Method for Addictions, Relationships, or Self Discovery then head to and sign up for a "Choose Yourself" Call.