Tuesday, December 16, 2008







Many years ago, at work, I used to employ a Management Technique called Force Field Analysis in Project Management.

Now I improvise the Force Field Analysis Model to great effect and success, in my personal life too for self improvement, to break bad habits – to change my life for the better.

So can you. Let me give you an example.

I remember that evening clearly. It was a tough and stressful working day.

It was hot and humid, I was tired, sweating profusely, my throat parched with thirst, and as I walked home late in the evening, I found myself opposite my favourite bar.

I looked yearningly, tempted, overcome by a strong craving, desperate to have a glass of chilled beer.

Nothing like a glass of cold beer to drive my blues away – the “panacea” to my “stressed-out” state!

But I did not go into the bar.

Instead, I rushed to the nearest Chaat-wala and had some pani-puri [gol-gappa].

The moment I put the first pani-puri in my mouth, the intense overpowering medley of sweet and sour, pungently hot, fiery and spicy flavor of the chutneys, jal jeera and “pani” overwhelmed me and made my craving thirst and longing for beer disappear pretty fast and enabled me to stick my resolve of giving up drinking.

I had suitably improvised the concept of “Force Field Analysis” to break my drinking habit and then keep it that way.

Long back, I had quit smoking too, and to stay that way, make sure I didn’t start again, I used force field analysis with great success.

Force Field Analysis provides a framework for looking at the factors or forces that influence a situation or activity.

Restraining Forces are those which inhibit or discourage the occurrence of a particular activity and Driving Forces are those which promote, facilitate and encourage the occurrence of the same activity.

In case you are familiar with NLP terminology, let’s say Driving Forces are positive anchors and Restraining Forces are negative anchors.

Let’s take the case of drinking.

Sit down, close your eyes, and introspect.

Can you identify the stimuli, the triggers, and the situations, the driving forces, which create in you the desire, the urge, the craving to drink?

These driving forces can be anything, internal and external, tangible or intangible – people, situations, events, parties, tendencies, moods, foods, social, cultural or organizational trends, practices, traditions, norms.

Do a simple exercise.

For the next week, or even a month, be yourself, live as you do, but mindfully record all the occasions on which you had alcohol and carefully list the driving forces that motivated you to drink.

What motivated you to have that drink?

Was it a social event, party, friends, as an aperitif before some gourmet food, amplifying the pleasure of smoking, dancing, “creativity”, for reducing inhibitions or enhancing excitement as a prelude to sex, tiredness, happiness, celebration, depression, boredom, the company or memories of some people, sad memories, self pity, jealousy, inner craving, addiction…?

Do it thoughtfully, record all driving forces meticulously and make an exhaustive list of the driving forces.

Now make a list of restraining forces that discourage, dissuade or inhibit you from drinking.

Concern for health?

Wife’s nagging?

Physical Exercise?

Values, religious and cultural taboos, regulations like prohibition and no drinking zones, work and hobbies, conservative environment, social encouragement of temperance?

Some types of foods too are effective restraining forces as far as alcohol is concerned [for me, pani-puri, bhel, jal jeera, lassi are quite effective. Also I lose the urge to drink after a good hearty satiating meal].

Be aware, live mindfully, observe yourself and record the restraining forces to drinking meticulously.

Now it is simple to quit drinking – all you have to do to quit drinking is to strengthen the restraining forces and mitigate and weaken the driving forces and most importantly, where possible, change direction of some driving forces and convert them into restraining forces by using techniques from concepts like NLP, 4T etc or, best of all, your own improvised techniques [like the “in lieu substitution method” I have evolved for myself – some alternate activity to substitute drinking, like exercise, reading, writing, outdoor activities, family time, playing with pets, taking your dog for a walk – something creative and positive to do during your erstwhile “drinking time”].

Learn how to tactfully and effectively avoid drinking.

Suppose your friends try to force you, apply peer pressure, taunt you saying you are a sissy, spoil sport etc. simply say, "I really must go," and leave the place.

Remember what Epictetus said: If you want to do something make a habit of it; if you want not to do something refrain from doing it.

I’ve also read somewhere: If want to be happily married, remain in the company of happily married people.

Always be with likeminded people whom you want to emulate.

If you want to stop drinking try to be in the company of non-drinkers.

Yes, you may have to change your friends too.

Avoid situations which elicit craving.

Substitute healthy activities like physical exercise, recreation and creative hobbies instead of drinking.

Change your lifestyle, your friends, your activities, and your environment.

You will have to change your daily routine too if you are serious and committed to quitting drinking.

Identify your stimuli, triggers, situations, people and anchors, internal and external, tangible and intangible – the driving forces that create in you the urge to have a drink and facilitate drinking and mitigate them by improvising force field analysis as it suits you best.

Try it, and you will succeed. It is easy to quit drinking the Force Field Analysis way. You can take my word for it.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2008
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work






Amit said...

Hi, ur blog is really nice & wonderful, while reading it I truly like it.
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Rajeev said...

I wonder you never published (or I missed reading it) your experience on "how to quit smoking" I myself have successfully done it and would definitely love to read your experience.
Its much harder than drinking.


Rajeev said...

I wonder you never published (or I missed reading it) your experience on "how to quit smoking" I myself have successfully done it and would definitely love to read your experience.
Its much harder than drinking.


Shams Quamar said...

Hi, Very nice article sir, I really like your thinking. Thanks for sharing great wandering thoughts. keep it up Management Institutes in India