I am writing this post as I return home from a week long work trip that I attended with about 120 other colleagues from all over the globe. I’ve been on these trips many times before; the formula is familiar. Long days in a fancy hotel, numerous workshops on different topics, breakout sessions, team building activities, dinners in posh restaurants and if you are lucky, maybe some free time somewhere in the packed agenda.
Don’t get me wrong, you can be spoilt on these trips, they are nearly always in great locations, nearly everything is paid for or can be expensed, you get to spend a lot of time with colleagues you may never have met face to face and some new ones also. They also help to broaden your network and product knowledge within companies. These are the upsides.
Unfortunately, alcohol seems to underpin these trips at nearly every opportunity. Welcome drinks, free bars, nights out, hair of the dog, hangovers, the fear, the fog, the regrets, the guilt, the lack of exercise, lethargy, exhaustion not to mention the reputation and career damage that people can do at these type of events where the shots, wine and beer is free flowing.
This is the first time I have attended one of these events sober. 257 days alcohol free at this point and that word still looks wrong to me: sober. It doesn’t accurately capture what it feels like to live life without alcohol when you have spent most of your life in it’s grasp. Sober to me implies boring, conservative, dry, uninteresting, no personality, basically no craic as we say in Ireland. What I feel being alcohol free is the exact opposite of those feelings.
This week I have felt more alive, energetic, engaged and switched on to life than I have ever felt. I went running twice this week, early morning before the day even started, I ate really well and was able to avoid the junk most of the time, I made a speech on stage to over 120 people including the executive level with my company and it was very warmly received by the audience, I danced on a dance floor (without alcohol, imagine!), I laughed so much with so many people my jaw was hurting by the time I got to bed. In short, I had a 10x better time on this trip than any previous trips like this before in my life and I believe 90% of the reason behind that was that I now do not consume alcohol so am freed from all the downsides that come with that choice.
So, if you were ever offered the chance to
- feel better
- get fitter
- lose weight and keep it off
- have more energy than you realise is possible
- enjoy your social nights out better
- enjoy the morning after
- save more money
- stick with your food goals
- reduce your risk of developing any of the major diseases
- clearer head to think
- more time to pursue your hobbies
- less regret, fear and guilt
- improve your relationships
- feel happier in your own skin
- more content with life
- less anxiety and depression
would you take it?
I have first-hand experience of all the above in varying amounts in the last 257 days since I made the very conscious decision to stop consuming alcohol. Built into this decision was a commitment to living a better life without alcohol dragging me down again and again and again.
As I disembark from the plane ride home here, I look around at my fellow passengers and colleagues with whom I spent the week. Exhausted and hungover in equal parts, their faces and body language scream with the signs of the devastating impact that alcohol has on us, an impact that I for one have been guilty of massively underestimating. The impact on our health and enjoyment of life is huge.
The irony of my previous belief that alcohol helped me enjoy life is not lost on me. Now I know that it can destroy your health and your life in the process if you do not stand guard over it.
I know now that I am a far better, happier person without alcohol in my life.
And we all want to be a bit happier right?
Yours in health and happiness,