Believing you want to quit drinking alcohol and actually going through with it aren't always in sync. I spent years trying to quit drinking, then failing, before I finally was able to fully commit to a sober lifestyle. While there are many strategies I used to adopt an alcohol-free life, I found this one simple action was instrumental to keeping me on the path to quit drinking alcohol for good.
To do this, you'll need to grab a pen and paper (or type if you're more comfortable with a computer). Next, list all the reasons why you think you should quit drinking alcohol. I would understand if this sounds too simple and obvious to be of much value, but putting your thoughts to paper actually offers tremendous power.
While you've likely thought loosely about why you want to quit drinking, have you ever really organized all those reasons? Do you know how many of these reasons really matter to you? And, are you even aware of how many reasons you have for quitting alcohol?
This strategy made sense to me because I'm already a huge advocate of writing out goals. While research indicates that this act increases the odds of those goals being accomplished, I would add that I've experienced this phenomenon in my personal and professional life. To me, it made sense. And, after 250-plus days without alcohol, I can say it has helped me get to where I am. Besides organizing my thoughts, I've been able to review this list when I feel especially tempted to give in to my desire to drink. A quick read of the list reminds me why a life without booze is much better than a life with it.
When I wrote my list in August of last year, I was shocked by how easily these reasons flowed. My hand actually struggled to keep up with my head. This is, essentially, a record of what I wrote:
- History - I've been drinking alcohol since I was 15 years old! That's 31 years. Wow! The last 12 to 15 years, I've had one to three glasses of wine almost nightly and binge drank every two to three months. By binge drinking, I mean I got very tipsy to downright drunk and suffered a medium to crippling hangover. I've had a long history of drinking. Will it ever stop? I want it to stop now. I'm too old for this.
- Health - Alcohol is bad for my health. I have an autoimmune disease which causes various symptoms periodically, and is exacerbated by alcohol. I wonder if abstinence from booze will improve those symptoms? Alcohol has a lot of calories, which adds weight that I could do without. Breast cancer runs in my family and drinking more than two glasses of wine per night increases my risk. Lastly, drinking lowers the I.Q. and I have lots of living to do; I need a fully functioning mind!
- Clear mind - When I drink after work in the afternoon on weekends, my mind loses focus. I don't feel like reading or writing. I feel like... napping! I can't meditate and I'm simply not productive, even after one glass. I want to be productive and clear.
- Addictive - I now realize I have trouble having JUST one drink, especially when it comes to wine. I start with one, then have another and another. I easily go through two bottles each week. And that's with little to no company!
- Money - Alcohol costs a lot. My two bottles (at least) per week cost about $40. Then add in dinners out or drinks with friends, and the alcohol there adds another $40 per week. It starts to add up.
- Driving - I should not ever drink and drive, but guess what? When you drink wine almost every night, you've got to drive after that glass of wine sometimes. I do not want my teen kids to drink and drive, so I need to be an example to them. And you know what? I want to have a clear head when I drive. It's the safest!
- Socializing - I used to drink to feel more comfortable with others. A few drinks and I'm fun Danielle. Lots to chat about, and damn, I'm funny. But now I'm comfortable in my own skin (right?) I don't have to be the life the party anyways. Regardless, I can leave if I'm bored. Who cares.
Now that I'm two-thirds through my alcohol-free year, I actually have experienced even more benefits to not drinking. But, this list was enough to keep me motivated to stay sober during those tough first few months. Whatever your reasons may be, it's important to understand that nothing will work if you're not fully convinced, yourself, that you want to quit.
Adopting a sober lifestyle after years (or decades like me) of drinking is not easy. That's why I recommend clearly stating why you want to quit. If you're serious about wanting to live alcohol-free, this list will clarify that path for you.