To give up alcohol for any length of time is admirable in my opinion, whether it is for 10 days, 100 days or even 1 day depending on where your relationship with alcohol is at. When I started a challenge with oneyearnobeer back in June 2019, I had reached a point of just being so fed up of the booze and the impact it was having on my life – the hangovers, the excuses, the irritability, the poor food choices, the impact on my body (beer gut, liver damage) and brain (the fog), the “fear” the following day, that awful feeling of not being in control of what you said or did on a night out and the general feeling of being dragged backwards in life instead of forwards.
I should quantify here, I was not a “big drinker” by today’s standards. I would rarely drink during the working week but I would often engage with a few pints on a Friday night. I would always drink when out with friends and at home and sometimes I’d have a few bottles of craft beer or share a bottle of wine on the weekend. In my 20s and 30s, it was a much different and messier story. So this is probably not that different to a lot of other people. In fact, it is this very opinion – sure I don’t drink that much anyway so what’s the point in giving it up – that provides the perfect storyline to keep you glued to the sauce for every social occasion.
For me, moderation was not an option. I had been down that road many times and each time alcohol proved to be the stronger opponent in the end. If I even had just 2 pints, I can feel my decision making and willpower dissolve rapidly. Moderation was a fool’s errand for me. This awareness coupled with the knowledge that there is a huge difference between 99% and 100% in terms of mindset, I knew that as long as I allowed alcohol to feature in my life, no matter the quantity or frequency, I was saying to the universe that I was okay to continue living life under the low grade haze of alcohol, and that simply was not the case any longer.
Willpower, however, is a finite resource. It’s like a muscle in the body, you can use it but it will tire and relent eventually. This is the reason why so many new year’s resolutions are cast aside by the third week in January – no more willpower left and what remains is not motivating enough to sustain building the gym habit. To achieve something like giving up alcohol, you need more than willpower, you need a really honest, genuine and deep seated set of reasons that will sustain you through the initially very hard phases of removing this habit from your life – enter your “Whys”. I spent a long time crafting these Whys to ensure that they really spoke to my true reasons for undertaking this. If your Whys are not solid enough, it is likely you will drink again at some point.
I often look at these reasons when I can feel myself becoming complacent in other areas of my life. They ground me and cement my commitment to not allowing alcohol to play any role in my life as it actually offers me zero gains, only downsides. If these were your Whys, would you still drink, knowing that it will negatively affect nearly all facets of your life in often small hard to detect ways. I find it amusing that my Whys start with vanity. I wanted to look better and lose the gut, but as you move down the list, the Whys go deeper into foundational aspects of my life like family relationships, life potential and personal fulfillment.
So here I am, 900 days alcohol free, and it all started with “Why”.