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If you’ve come into 2023 with New Year’s resolutions of any kind, you are already engaging in mindfulness. It requires self-determination and the building of a new relationship with the subject, whether you’re focused on diets, watching a new film every week or becoming a mindful drinker.

Club Soda provides structured, self-guided courses to support to over 50,000 people to cut down or quit drinking. They have worked with our Simulation for Digital Health (SimDH) programme since 2019 with a deep evaluation of their programme taking place in 2022.  

Using some of the research from Club Soda we have collated some of the big lessons from their findings and considered how they can support any behaviour change, from personal to business.

When Club Soda was established in 2015, they committed to helping people develop a more mindful relationship with alcohol, whether through cutting down or stopping completely. Self-efficacy is at the heart of their approach, with the weight of behaviour change research suggesting that people may be best able to achieve their long-term goals by building on their strengths - including their confidence and capability to change.

Club Soda embraces the value of moderation and responds to the variety in people’s motivations to change their drinking, and the desire for a flexible approach to change. Members are supported through:

  • Advice, information and signposting
  • Short email courses
  • Goal setting, tracking and measurement tools
  • Real-world social events
  • Peer-led online support communities
  • The promotion of choice in the low and no alcohol drinks market
  • Work with the licensed trade to improve their offer to people who are not drinking alcohol.

Working with SimDH, Dru Jaeger, founder of Club Soda along with Laura Willoughby and Jussi Tolvi, wanted to undertake research, based on data collected through their courses, to see how their approach works in practice and whether there are different outcomes for people drinking less or not at all.

Dru is a workshop facilitator, writer and researcher and the author of How To Be A Mindful Drinker (DK, 2019). Keep your eyes out for a case study which dives into Dru’s experience and work with SimDH as part of this campaign.

Our thanks to Club Soda for sharing their results with us. We have broken down some of the main lessons from SimDH’s research for you that hopefully you can apply to any change you’re trying to make. To access the full report and learn more about Club Soda you can visit them here.

1. Be aware that your goals could be multi-dimensional

The temptation is to measure mindful success through objective and measurable goals - the mechanics of alcohol consumption. This may include:

  • Reducing the number of days you drink on
  • Keeping track of the number of drinks you consume
  • Reducing blood alcohol level

Subjective goals, which relate to improving the quality of some aspect of your life, such as health or emotional balance, could be significantly or equally important goals.

When participants in the research looked back at their goals, even if they’d set objective goals, they consistently articulated their motivations for change more subjectively. Five key motivators for changing their drinking emerged from their reflections:

  • Their use of alcohol to mask emotions and to deal with social anxiety
  • The habitual nature of their alcohol consumption
  • The physical and mental health impacts of drinking
  • That their drinking was having an impact on their loved ones
  • A recognition that life might be better without or with less alcohol

Consider what your goals are outside of the measurable when approaching behaviour change. Are there emotional impacts and benefits to your change that you want to track?

From Club Soda’s research, people who had worked towards subjective goals from the beginning were more likely to have positive outcomes from their behaviour change in the long term.

2. Support comes in many forms

If you’re approaching change, we tend to become active information seekers, looking for support through online searches and use of social media.

Participants with Club Soda identified three key elements of Club Soda’s approach that had been particularly beneficial to them:

  • Social support and non-judgement interaction with others
  • Club Soda’s work as a mindful drinking movement in normalising and promoting the availability of low and no alcohol drinks
  • The provision of information and support including online courses

This highlights the impact of surrounding yourself with support during times of change. Accountability is useful but self-understanding, self-efficacy and knowledge is more effective long term.

3. Allow your goals to change

In Club Soda’s report almost everyone starting to change their drinking could articulate an objective and consumption-related goal. But in looking back at what they had achieved, they reimagined their intentions.

The subjective benefits of changing their drinking - the improvements they felt in their quality of life - had become more important than the practicalities of reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption.

Club Soda’s new programme supports people to become mindful drinkers by helping them focus on living the life they imagine and deciding what role they want alcohol to play in it. This flies in the face of much of the current health messaging.

From a business perspective, we are often guilty of setting ourselves targets without living our company values. Perhaps this is the lesson to take to achieve growth and change this year - even if you started with objective goals, maybe use January 2023 to reflect, do these goals bring you intentionality or are you just counting?

Dru Jaegar - Co-founder of Club Soda


Our thanks to Club Soda for their support and sharing.

They worked with our SimDH programme who support digital health SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs to build products and develop research. SMEs get to work with researchers, academics and equipment usually found solely at universities.

This bridge between the university and commercial sector can have huge benefits. As Dru reflects:

“Running a commercial organisation requires you to be flexible and opportunistic, so you can respond to the needs of your customers. Moving fast can offer a lot of benefit to a business, but it also means that good ideas can get discarded too soon. Working with an academic institution brings rigour to the process of developing and nurturing new ideas and encourages business leaders to step back and think critically about their work.”

If you’d like to join Dru and take the next step for your business explore here.

You can connect with Dru via LinkedIn here.

SimDH is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

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