The High Performance Journal

I've Stopped Drinking For A Full Year. Here's What I Learned...

high performance journal Sep 19, 2023

The High Performance Journal​ - September 19th 2023

In September 2022 I decided to do a phase called Monk Mode.

It was a time I would renounce all distractions to put all my efforts into myself and my business.

A part of "Monk Mode" was to stop drinking.

Before then I had been having a few drinks every week. I would have them as a way to decrease stress when I got home from work and on date nights with my wife.

Drinking has been a consistent part of my life since I was 18 years old.

It started in my friend's basement binge drinking Kahlua's mixed with milk until I threw up. It continued on with me all the way into my 40's.

I did not drink every day but it became a regular part of my routine ever since I became an adult.

I didn't know what life would be without it so I decided to stop drinking on September 11th 2022 to see what would happen.

It's been over a year since then and I've learned a lot about myself in that time span.

Today, I want to share with you what I've learned from a year of not drinking alcohol and what I plan to do moving forward.

The conclusion might surprise you so make sure to read to the end.

What I've Learned From Not Drinking For a Full Year

Lesson #1 - I'm better able to deal with stress and emotions

I was using alcohol to de-stress myself but what it really did was numb myself. The stress always came back and many times even worse.

When I stopped drinking I had to deal with my stress head-on and get in touch with how I was feeling.

You simply can't do those things when you use alcohol as a crutch.

The funny thing about drinking alcohol is that it numbs stress and then increases it. You are also more prone to anxiety and the way it affects your sleep makes problems worse.

It made me realize that dealing with stress and emotions using alcohol was easy at first then hard later on.

Dealing with stress and emotions with introspection, mindfulness, and activity is hard at first but easier later on.

Choose your type of hard.

Lesson #2 - Sleep and energy levels improved

One of the worst things you could do to your sleep is drink alcohol.

It creates a vicious cycle where you drink and then you lose sleep, which leaves you lethargic the next day, which increases stress levels.

It was no surprise but my sleep improved when I stopped drinking.

It created a virtuous cycle that improved my energy levels the next day, which improved my ability to deal with stress and emotion.

That helped me with the next lesson...

Lesson #3 - Improved focus

What happens when you have better sleep, increased energy, and healthy ways to deal with stress and emotion?

Better focus.

I could sit down and work for longer periods of time. I could spend more time without having to distract myself.

This helped both my work as well as my family life.

My brain started to work better and I could feel the difference within a matter of a few weeks.

This led to more creativity and productivity, which I used to improve my business.

Lesson #4 - I improved socially

Part of the reason I would drink would be to be more social. If I was anxious in social gatherings (I’m an introvert by nature) I would have a couple of drinks to loosen me up.

I used alcohol as a tool to be more “me” but it was more like a crutch.

Not drinking alcohol taught me a few things about being social:

  1. If I need to drink to be around someone then I probably don’t want to be around that person.
  2. Needing to drink in gatherings blunts my skill of being social.

Not having to rely on a substance that puts you in the mood is a great way to learn how to be socially competent.

Now, I can enjoy myself in social situations without needing a drink, which feels pretty amazing.

Final Lesson - Go to your extremes to learn your balance

With all these improvements you'd expect me to stop drinking alcohol for the rest of my life.

And you'd be right...sort of.

After getting off of alcohol for a year it's allowed me to zoom out.

There are a ton of benefits to not drinking alcohol but I do see that there are some benefits to doing it as well.

One of them is enjoying a glass of wine with an old friend or a loved one.

It reminds me of when I was in Mexico in January for an event.

We were at a resort and people were passing around cigars to everyone.

Some took part in it and some didn't. I did.

As I was lighting up my stogie my friend Billy came up and asked,

"Dan, why are you smoking a cigar? Aren't you supposed to be the "health guy"? Isn't nicotine bad for longevity?

I said to him,

"Billy, part of longevity is enjoying things like this (I pointed to the cigar) with your friends in moderation. Do it every day or even every week then yes it'll affect you. But done once in a blue moon with people you love is a net positive in my books."

This reminds me of a lesson from the Tao Te Ching: The wise avoid extremes, excesses, and complacency.

Does this mean I'll go back to drinking every week?

No. The cost versus the reward is not worth it to do on a regular basis.

What this does mean is that every once in a while I won't mind sharing a drink with someone who's company I enjoy.

This is the balance I've settled on and everyone must find their own.

My New Rules For Drinking

Now that I know what my balance is I have a perspective on what place alcohol has in my life. With that comes a few rules that I want to share with you.

  1. I won't drink to the point of being drunk. The cost is way too high.
  2. I drink alcohol on rare occasions. Once every 4-6 months is a good frame for me.
  3. When I'm stressed I stay away from alcohol because it only makes it worse.
  4. I will always weigh the cost benefit knowing that one drink leads to a few days of inefficiency.

There could be more but those will work well for me on this next part of my journey. The point of this article was to provide my experience and balance to the idea of drinking.

As with everyone, your mileage may vary when it comes to this substance.

Hope this helps you on whatever journey you're on with alcohol or without.

Onwards and upwards 🚀

- Dan

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