Why Stoptober works...and what you can learn from it

Stoptober is in full flow, with people quitting for 28 days initially.

Stoptober is in full flow, with people quitting for 28 days initially.

Recent years have seen a boom in one-month challenges, including Stoptober, the quit smoking for October challenge from the NHS, Dry January or Go Sober for October, Veganuary and the infamous Movember.

So just why are they so successful?

1) It's only a month.

Quitting smoking or alcohol forever seems like a pretty daunting task. Take it down to just a matter of weeks and all of a sudden it appears much more doable. As Stoptober say on their website however, quitting for 28 days makes you 5 times more likely to quit for good.

What can you take from this? When you want to make a change, why not do a trial run of it first, setting yourself a goal of doing it for a short period of time to begin with.

2) In it together.

Knowing that you're part of a group aiming to achieve a shared objective can be highly motivating. You feel like you don't want to let others down or be the one who falls first.

What can you take from this? Find someone you can share your change joinery with, a friend or a family member, or maybe even a group of people. Helping others and getting help when you need it can make a real difference.

3) Taking on and overcoming the challenge

The public nature of these events leads people to tell others they're getting involved, and we all like to feel good when people praise us for achieving things. 

What can you take from this? If you want to change something, maybe making it known to others will spur you on to make it happen, partly through a fear of being seen to fail but also because you'll feel great when others praise you for your efforts.

4) Expert support

Many of the charity challenges have advice and support on how to make the changes from qualified experts. This means you go into them knowing you have help from reliable sources.

What can you take from this? Look for advice on making your change from a source you trust and who can help with your particular challenge.

5) Raising money for good causes

Charity can be a real motivator for change, and when people have sponsored you to do something, you often feel very motivated not to let them down.

What can you take from this? Even if it's not a major charity fund-raising change, maybe you can add some value to it. Make a bet with someone that you'll pay for dinner or drinks if you don't succeed, and they'll pay if you do. Or reward yourself by purchasing something you want (it's best if it's not food as this can lead to a link between food and mood which isn't always helpful) or by putting money into a jar towards a bigger dream purchase if you manage to succeed. For example, you can put any money you would've spent on alcohol or cigarettes into a jar towards a holiday.


If you fancy taking on a change, why not check out this month's 'eat' link in the newsletter, where you can join me and others on a 7-Day Diet Challenge.