As simple as one…two…three.
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” — Albert Einstein
Over the past three years of being alcohol conscious, I’ve thought about a number of different reasons I’ve been relatively easily successful and have never really felt the desire or need to go back to drinking.
There was a brief period at the six-month mark (the longest I had gone without drinking up to that point) that I thought there might be a chance of doing it again, but I wasn’t really serious.
I had experienced so many great things over the previous six months that the thought of giving all of that up and becoming a prisoner to alcohol again seemed foolish.
As I come upon my third anniversary of being alcohol-conscious (November 10th, 2018), I’ve boiled it down to three strategies that helped me in hopes anyone can adopt them and make it easy for them to do so as well.
I didn’t try to do it alone
Honestly, I was very fortunate, and depending on your situation, this may not be something that you have the ability to do.
However, if it’s at all possible to find a friend of some sort who is willing to do this with you, you’ll find yourself in a much stronger position than you would be if you just tried it alone.
For me, I was super lucky that my wife was willing to do this with me, and it has made all the difference in the world.
What happens when you decide to live a life of sobriety is that you often will not find the things you used to enjoy as much fun as before. Whether it was hitting your favorite happy hour spot on a Thursday afternoon, hitting the clubs on a Friday and Saturday, or a Sunday Funday brunch, many of the things that you used to do that you enjoyed will just not be as fun anymore.
As shared in The TRUE Reason You Will Lose Friends When You Quit Drinking, some of your friends will just not want to hang with you as much as they did before since you are no longer drinking.
They will still want you to do things like go to bars and meet them out late at night in situations that may make it hard for you to maintain your sobriety. They will be more concerned with maintaining their fun on a weekend night than bending to meet you in a venue that will be easier for you to stay sober.
For this reason, it will be highly advantageous to have someone that you can do things with that does not involve any type of bar or alcohol of any kind. This person will generally be someone that probably never drank before or was willing to give it up with you.
If this is someone who was willing to give it up with you, you are in a great position because you two can be means of motivation for each other.
When my wife and I quit at the same time, it was great because we were able to serve as inspiration and encouragement to each other. Whenever I thought about possibly drinking again, I inevitably thought about what if she didn’t want to make that decision with me and how that could hurt all that we’ve gained becoming alcohol conscious together.
Ultimately, we both got to a place in which we knew that drinking again was not in our future and have been so much stronger because of that decision.
I didn’t try to do it with only willpower
Some people would like for you to believe that quitting is easy and only a matter of mind over matter to stay strong in the face of craving or desires.
And while I won’t say that quitting drinking is anywhere near among the hardest things I’ve done in my life, I will admit that I would have never been able to do it had I not had substitutes that took the place of alcohol and did not allow me to miss it as much.
As shared in Exercise…Hobbies…Sugar? — Why You Need SOMETHING To Replace Alcohol trying to white-knuckle giving up alcohol without replacing it with something that can make up for it is not a long-term strategy for success.
Since giving up alcohol three years ago, I’ve also given up/cut back on sugar, diet sodas, and meat.
With all three of these endeavors, the task was not that difficult because I always looked for an immediate substitute that allowed me to not miss out on the aforementioned vice as much.
When it comes to giving up alcohol, you will need something that you can look forward to that will give you a sense of reward so you don’t feel like you’re living a joyless life.
For me, that main thing was sweets.
I never had much of a sweet tooth before, but after I decided that drinking alcohol was no longer going to be my avenue for a dopamine spike, I needed something that would make me feel excited about the weekend or a random Tuesday night.
That “something” turned out to be sugar and sweets, as I found it gave a similar dopamine spike to alcohol, and I began to look forward to my sweet nights the same way I used to look forward to my alcohol drinking nights.
However, because too much sugar is not a good thing long term, I had to eventually find another replacement for it down to the road to wean myself off of it, but for the time that I needed it (about a year), it absolutely did the trick to help me not miss drinking so much.
I would highly encourage anyone to find something similar that isn’t harmful to their long-term health to serve as that substitute for enough time to allow alcohol to not have control anymore.
I didn’t take it day by day
I know some will criticize this piece of advice since, for many, the concept of taking it from day to day is a big deal.
If that works for you, PLEASE DON’T STOP THAT, as you must ALWAYS do what works best for YOU.
However, I found it most helpful to think of my alcohol-consciousness in terms of full-sized meal chunks instead of small bites.
I wrote about this in a previous article that explains why I never have nor probably ever will use sober counting apps.
What I mean by that is that whenever I would hit a milestone that some might say was significant, the next goal typically would become to double that milestone before considering giving drinking another go.
For example, when I originally made the decision to stop drinking, the decision was to do it for at least one month and then decide at the end of the month what I would do from there.
Once one month elapsed, I just instantly made the next goal three months because that felt like a significant enough of a goal to be a decent accomplishment.
After three months, the next goal then doubled to six.
This helped significantly because it helped me make up my mind that the next goal was going to be my decision “gate,” if you will, to choose whether I was going to go back to drinking or not. For this reason, I didn’t really feel the pressure to drink between those times and didn’t really think about it until that day was close to arriving.
About a week before I was coming up on another milestone, I would then begin doing an assessment of everything I had gained and learned over the past period and then compare it to what my life was like before.
So instead of feeling the pressure of having to make the decision every single day, I took that decision off the table for me. The decision had already been made for the next period, and I would only have to truly feel the pressure of asking myself what should I do a handful of times, as opposed to all the time.
This may not work for some, as celebrating daily milestones is an aid that may keep individuals chugging along day by day, but for me, this made the choice to drink or not easy since, for long periods of time, the decision was already made in my mind.
Three years of alcohol consciousness has flown by, and the growth that I’ve experienced during this time frame has been pretty amazing.
I’ve married my best friend, started this publication, and started another business to try my hand at entrepreneurship again.
And while I can’t say that every day was easy and there was never a time that I didn’t consider drinking again, these three tips were monumental in keeping me on the path to success to allow me to grow into the person I am today, as well as continue to grow into the person I am becoming for tomorrow.