Ah, glorious alcohol. It’s everywhere. We not only enjoy it but we celebrate it. We don’t just use it to celebrate, we actually celebrate alcohol and drinking culture.
It helps us relax and “take the edge off” as one of my family members likes to joke. Booze connects people, brings us closer together and gives us permission to feel good and laugh a bit more.
It’s actually quite a bit of fun.
Until it isn’t.
Alcohol can have a cutting edge to it…We should be acutely aware of this. My intention in this email isn’t to lecture you or tell you what you should or shouldn’t do (although I am biased towards balance and moderation). This email is an exercise for you to reflect on your consumption of alcohol, what you choose to do with it and how it might be affecting you.
I can think of a few experiences I’ve had with alcohol where I said or did really foolish things that I would never have done when I was sober. Luckily, it hasn’t been anything that’s permanently affected me (like getting a large Superman tattoo on my chest, for example)…but if I had been less careful, things could have gone in a bad direction.
If you’re serious about growing your business or career, and if you want to have great energy, physical health and clarity, you might want to examine your relationship with alcohol and consider putting some real limitations on it.
What is drinking really costing you? And is it worth the price you’re paying?
If you have two glasses of wine once or twice a week and never go beyond that (even on New Year’s Eve), then you’re probably not at risk. Carry on, you Master of Moderation!
We have to realize that we are dealing with an addictive substance. Respect its power.
I have a friend here in Mexico who used to love drinking beer and he was always a fun guy to be around and share a few drinks with. I never saw him act out of control or act in a negative way when drinking. He told me that several years ago, he started drinking tequila. It started out as a simple little habit but he ended up drinking a large bottle a day…He said that he wasn’t stressed, depressed or angry when he first started drinking tequila. He just ended up getting hooked on it. It got so bad that he had to seek treatment for his addiction. He was surprised that he got hooked because he had been drinking for many years and had never had an issue.
Seek professional help if your drinking is causing you significant issues. My thoughts below are for people who binge drink (ie: get drunk at least once a year but not more often than 2 or 3 times a month) or have 2-5 drinks a day, several days a week. I’m talking about your average drinker, in other words, not alcoholics. I don’t know much about alcoholism so I’m not qualified to talk about it.
Should you quit drinking alcohol?
Moderating: Quitting drinking isn’t the only option available, of course. You could moderate your drinking. Some people do that really well and they only have a drink or two on special occasions. You’ll never see them drunk.
If you set a goal to have just 2 drinks a week for a maximum of 2 days a week and if you can stick to that plan for at least a couple months, then you’re good at moderating and this method is a good option for you.
Quitting: If you have trouble moderating your alcohol (and drinking is a problem for you and you want to reduce your alcohol-consumption), the best option might be to quit completely. Taking breaks hasn’t worked for you in the past, neither has trying to moderate, avoid or minimize.
Quitting alcohol is easier said than done, right? Assuming that you’re not physically addicted to alcohol (like an alcoholic), then you should be able to quit. Could you quit for a year if someone paid you a $10,000,000 at the end of that year? If yes, then you can definitely quit without that financial incentive.
I went out for a glass of wine with someone I’m close to a few weeks ago. When they’re sober, they’re smart, funny, active and good to talk with. This person ended up having too many drinks (common for them) and became unintelligible, rude, extremely annoying and they were also a physical liability (because they were completely out of their mind). I had to take care of them that night and I wasn’t very happy about that.
They’re not an alcoholic, but they binge drink fairly regularly. This is an example of someone who can’t moderate alcohol. They should quit before something bad happens to them, like a permanent physical injury.
30-day No-Alcohol Challenge: If you’re not in quite as serious of a situation as above, then start with a 30-day no-alcohol challenge. At the end of the 30 days, you can decide if you want to continue. Starting with just 30 days is a great mind-hack because it feels more achievable and it’s not something you have to commit to forever.
Quitting alcohol for at least 30 days (or much longer) will be a massive improvement for you. Don’t look at it as giving something up but look at all the positive benefits you’ll be getting (healthy, energy, clarity, living more in wisdom, becoming more grounded, growing your business and revenue, enhancing your creativity, feeling in control, etc…).
You won’t be able to quit or moderate if you don’t really want to
If the idea of “being healthier” remains just an externally-imposed intellectual idea and if you don’t have that intrinsic motivation, then your habit will continue.
“I really should cut back (but I don’t want to)” is what we often think, at least at a sub-conscious level, when trying to minimize a negative habit. “I know I should drink less (but I don’t want to give up the payoffs I get).”
Those thoughts destroy any motivation we might have for moderating a negative habit. If we have weak motivation, we will have weak intention and weak action.
Nothing will change.
1. Write down all the negatives you’ve experienced because of drinking. Make that list long and detailed.
2. Think about the negative impact on you personally. Go through those negative experiences in your mind.
3. Use those negative experiences to boost your motivation and reasons for moderating alcohol (or any other negative habit).
4. Review that list frequently to continually remind yourself why it’s important to moderate or quit.
A few other quick tips… Note: If you don’t really want to quit or moderate drinking, then these tips won’t be helpful.
- Write down a list of healthy non-alcoholic drinks that you like that you’ll drink instead of alcohol. My favourite is water with fresh lemon or lime juice in it. It’s low-sugar and tastes great.
- Do light to moderate exercise 5 times a week. When you have this type of consistent exercise routine (even 20 minutes is a good start), you’ll be less likely to drink 5 beer in an evening because you know that it goes against your exercise/health goal.
- Reduce time spent in alcohol-centric environments or social circles. If you suddenly decide to drink less or take a break, expect resistance from your friends and family that love to drink. By not drinking, you may be activating the “wounded ego” in them. They might feel offended that you’re not doing an activity that they enjoy doing (No-one wants to feel “bad” or “wrong”). Also, they know you in a certain context and when you change behaviours and contexts, people resist that. They want the “old” predictable you. Make sure that you stay strong in your conviction. Ask yourself this, “Is what other people want more important than what I want?” No, it isn’t. Almost never. Especially in this case. You’ll do what you do and they can do what they do.
- Don’t keep alcohol in your house. If it’s there, you might end up drinking it. Drink outside of your home instead. It’s also more expensive which might help deter you.
- When you drink, drink with full awareness. Practice mindfulness or putting your full attention on drinking. Really notice what this feels like. Notice how after 2 or 3 drinks, you start to ‘numb out’ a bit. Keep your attention on that. Ask, “Do I even like this state? What’s happening with my focus right now? What’s happening to my intelligence? Does drinking serve my business, health and relationship goals? or is it detracting from them?” When you practice awareness while drinking, you’ll most likely start to prefer the feeling of being sober versus that feeling of being drunk. Since I started doing this, my mind strongly “resists” getting drunk. If I didn’t practice putting my attention on my five senses, thoughts, feelings and emotions, it would be much easier to fall into a drunken state.
- Write down alternative activities that give you a similar feeling to having a few drinks. Most of us drink to relax, open up, feel more free or uninhibited, connect with other people, de-stress, shut off the ‘monkey mind’ for awhile and just let go, in general. What activities can you do that will give you similar feelings? Some possible options could be: going for a run on a forest path, doing a guided meditation, going for a swim in the ocean, getting a massage, doing high-intensity exercise for a cathartic release, trying acting classes so you can express emotions that you might consider “bad” or “unsafe”, or whatever else will give you a pleasant experience that we tend to seek in a few drinks.
Again, these are my thoughts on how to moderate or quit alcohol for your average drinker, not alcoholics. I do not have the knowledge or experience to talk about alcoholism or make any recommendations. I also don’t work with clients who have serious drinking problems, I only support clients who want to moderate certain habits.
No matter what your habits are with alcohol, I fully support your growth and happiness. This is not an easy habit to work on.
Holding Your Feet to the Fire
PS: Want to reach your goals faster? Check out one of the online accountability coaching programs and book a free Coaching Call.