Monday, January 28, 2013



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.

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 stood outside the bar and looked with yearning at my favourite watering hole. 

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

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

But I did not go into the bar.

Instead, I rushed to the nearest Chaatwala and had some pani-puri.

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 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 did not start smoking again, I had 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


Driving Forces are those which promote, facilitate and encourage the occurrence of the same activity.

Let’s say that:

Driving Forces are Positive Anchors


Restraining Forces are Negative Anchors

(similar to the anchors in NLP)

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 and give rise to the urge to drink?

These driving forces can be anything, internal and external, tangible or intangible. 

These driving forces that encourage you to drink can be people, situations, events, parties, tendencies, moods, foods, social factors, organizational trends, practices, 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.

Was it a social event, a party, your drinking friends that motivated you to drink?

Or did you have a drink as an aperitif before some gourmet food?

Or did you have a sip of rum to enhance the pleasure of smoking?

Maybe you had those shots of tequila to get you in the dancing mood.

Or a drink of whisky to get you in the “creative” mood.

Maybe you imbibed that potent exotic cocktail for giving a fillip to your libido, or to reduce your inhibitions or to enhance excitement as a prelude to sex.

Or you had a quick shot of booze to pep you up and eliminate your tiredness 

A neat shot of rum or whisky down-the-hatch to give you Dutch Courage 

A few drinks in company of friends to enhance your happiness

A bit of alcohol to celebrate

Or drinking in solitude to get rid of depression or boredom or to dissolve your blue-mood/, 

Maybe you drink to drown your sorrows, to obliterate memories of some people, sad memories, in moods of self pity, jealousy, inner craving, addiction…?

You can find so many reasons to drink and to justify your drinking.

Do it thoughtfully and make an exhaustive list of the driving forces that urge you to drink alcohol.

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

Introspect – for you what are those things that restrain you from drinking ?

Here are a few restraining forces which discourage you from drinking:

Concern for health. 
Wife’s nagging. 
Physical Exercise. 
Values, religious and cultural taboos.
Regulations like prohibition and no drinking zones
Social encouragement of temperance and sobriety

Some types of foods too are effective restraining forces.

For me, pani-puri, bhel, jal jeera, lassi are quite effective.

Also I lose the urge to drink after a hearty fulfilling satiating meal.

Through self-awareness, mindful living and personal experience, record these restraining forces meticulously.

Now all you have to do to quit drinking is the following:

1. Strengthen the restraining forces (that restrain you from drinking)

2. Mitigate and weaken the driving forces (that cause a craving for alcohol or urge you to drink)

and, most importantly,

3. Convert driving forces into restraining forces - Yes, where possible, change direction of some driving forces and convert driving forces 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).

Learn how to tactfully and effectively avoid drinking.

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

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 have also read somewhere:

If want to be happily married, remain in the company of happily married people

Always be with like-minded people whom you want to emulate.

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

Avoid situations which encourage drinking or elicit craving for alcohol

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

If you are serious about giving up drinking, you may even have to:

1. Change your Lifestyle

2. Change your Friends

3. Change your Activities 

if any of these are driving forces which motivate you on to have a drink

Identify your stimuli, triggers, situations, people and anchors, internal and external, tangible and intangible – identify the driving forces that create in you the urge to have a drink and encourage and facilitate the drinking habit.

Once you have identified the driving forces you must try and mitigate these driving forces by improvising force field analysis as it suits you best.

Force Field Analysis works for me.

Dear Reader, do let me know if it works for you.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Did you like reading this story? 
I am sure you will like all the 27 stories in my recently published book of short stories COCKTAIL
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Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll

About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a large number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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