I was raised Anglican. For those who are unfamiliar with the religion, Anglican is basically like being Catholic but we have no pope. Just the Queen herself. For years I watched as my family made the promise on Pancake Tuesday to give something up for 40 days. When I came of age, I tried to give up something different every year. One year I gave up meat; another, gluten and dairy; and last year I gave up shopping. To make the promise of giving up something you love can sound daunting, but I have some tips for you to succeed.
Formulate a Plan
First and foremost, you need a plan. A good, solid, no nonsense plan. It’s one thing to say you will give up your guilty pleasure and another to actually do it. Lent is challenging, and if you don’t plan for it, it’ll spell disaster. Spend some time figuring out your goals and how you can realistically manage the process.
Assemble a Support System
You need a good support system. You can’t be around someone who will eat the very thing that you’re trying so desperately to avoid right in front of you! But you can’t always ask people to stop doing what they’re doing for your sake. You are the one who made the commitment. Your support system, whether it’s a single person or multiple people, can hold you accountable to ensure you stick to your goals. Share your Lent experience on social media, that way everyone will know what you’re trying to do, and you will feel that pressure to see it through.
Feeling That Sense of Accomplishment
This brings me to my next point, being able to say “you did it.” You accomplished the 40-day challenge. That’s big! Just think about the bragging rights after. It will feel so good. People will applaud you, congratulate you, praise you for your goodness. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit. But what’s most important is that you’ll know your strength; you’ll know you persevered. And you will emerge from it as a force to be reckoned with.
This is the biggest factor. Not going to have chocolate for 40 days? Either eat it before, or bring it to work or school to share. The biggest thing is not to be aware that you’re missing out. When I gave up shopping, I ceased to look at online stores.
Finding Interesting Alternatives
Lent can be a time to explore new options out there! For example, if you’re taking the caffeine-free route, there is an amazing world of herbal teas to explore. Try not to think about what you can’t have, but all the goodies you can have (gluten-free bread is not a goodie, however).
So, whether it’s sweets, coffee, shopping or whatever your guilty pleasure may be, just remember Lent only lasts 40 days. After those 40 days you will be able to indulge to your heart’s content. Also, if you do 40 days without it, you can prove you’re not addicted. Good luck!