Today is Saturday April 9th of 2014—the second Saturday of April. It’s 8 days after April Fool’s Day. It’s 3 months and 9 days into the year 2016. It’s roughly 3 months until my birthday on July 2nd. And most importantly, today is my 2-year-anniversary from the day I made sobriety my lifestyle— the day I decided I was going to permanently leave alcohol in my past.
It’s been exactly 2 years since April 12th of 2014—which means I have been sober for a full 730 days straight.
Today is an important day to pause to reflect on the victory. It’s a cause for celebration. And it’s a reason to feel accomplished—another full year of sobriety under my belt.
But today, I want to do more than just celebrate the victory. I want to share the steps that made this victory possible.
So here they are. The following are 6 steps that allowed me to stay sober for 2 years straight.
Today, I’ve Been Sober For 2 Years Straight & Here’s How I Did It:
#1- I Realized The Negatives Of Drinking Far Outweigh The Benefits
“What do I get from drinking?”
“What does alcohol do for me?”
“Why do I drink?”
These are questions that I began to ask myself more and more often towards the end of my drinking career. And 9 times out of 10, I felt disappointed by the answers. Because the negatives of drinking always filled up a much longer list than the positives did.
This epiphany started to get very real for me on the night of February 15th in 2014—less than two months before I quit alcohol. It was a Saturday night. And I was debating on whether I should head to the bars. But I felt undecided. It was towards the end of my drinking career. And my enjoyment for alcohol was all but gone. I couldn’t make up my mind.
To help myself make a decision, I wrote down a Pro-Con List of the benefits of drinking alcohol that night versus the negatives. The list—which I still have to this day—shows that I could only manage to come up with two Pros for drinking that night:
- The camaraderie of spending time with close friends
- And the possibility of making connections with new people.
The list of Cons on the other hand, was 5 items long:
- I was NOT looking forward to the horrible hangover that I would suffer through the following morning
- The hours spent drinking that night would draw away from time I would have spent working on a book that I was writing at the time
- The hours spent drinking would also draw away from my time I could have spent watching Game Of Thrones—which I was very much into at the time.
- The hours spent out and the effects of the hangover would kill my chances of getting anything done on Sunday morning
- And the total cost of the night—including cab fees and drinks—would add up to a total of over $100
So when it came down to it, The Negatives Of Drinking Far Outweighed The Benefits. The horrible effects of the hangover, the time wasted, the opportunities lost, and the large amount of money spent just was not worth the camaraderie and the new connections that I would have made that night.
I suddenly realized that drinking no longer made sense to me. And within less than two months from that night, I decided to put the bottle down forever.
#2- I Made Sobriety My Goal And Wrote It Down On Paper
On April 12th of 2014, I made a decision that would change the course of the rest of my life. I decided that I was never going to consume alcohol again.
To make sure that I would never go back on that decision, I took that commitment a step further by writing it down on paper.
If you’ve read my blog posts on The Secret To Getting What You Want: Goal Setting and Why You Should Say Affirmations Every Morning, you know there is immense value and power in not only knowing specifically what you want to accomplish but also in physically writing down your goals on paper. By writing a goal, a dream, a plan, or an intention down on paper, you are making a promise to yourself, to the world, and to the universe—a promise that you will do whatever it takes to follow through on getting that goal accomplished.
I set myself up for success early on by stating: “Starting on Saturday April 12th 2014, I promise to never consume alcohol ever again.”
It’s been two full years since that day. But I never forgot that promise that I made to myself that day. And I never went back on my commitment.
#3- I Asked Family And Friends To Hold Me Accountable To My Sobriety
After I wrote down my promise to permanently quit drinking, I took my commitment another step further by announcing to friends and family that from that day forward, I was leaving alcohol behind, forever.
Announcing big goals to friends and family is risky. Because more often than not, at least one person will express doubts that you’re capable of pulling it off. Even though I expected the doubters going into it, Asking Family And Friends To Hold Me Accountable To My Sobriety was a really important step in my plan.
Because I knew that accountability is a powerful way to make sure you follow through on your commitments. When you know that you’ve got people out there expecting, anticipating, and praying for you to win, giving up feels next to impossible.
And no one—myself included—wants to face the embarrassment of giving up on a commitment that they confidently announced to their family, friends, and peers. Avoiding that embarrassment can be a very reliable source of motivation.
That’s why Asking Others To Hold Me Accountable was a very valuable step in my process for quitting alcohol that I would definitely recommend to anyone who is thinking about getting sober.
#4- Changed My Mindset About Alcohol
When’s the last time you saw a PSA warning you about the dangers of drinking alcohol? Better yet, have you ever seen a PSA warning you about alcohol in your entire life?
There are plenty of anti-drunk-driving messages on the air. But very rarely does anyone ever get warned about the dangers of drinking alcohol in general.
Advertisements, movies, and television shows condition us on the daily to think alcohol is cool, safe, exciting, and fun. But very rarely do the media ever show us any of the dangers.
Alcohol is a leading cause for brain malfunction; heart-related problems and illnesses; serious liver damage; pancreas problems; and several types of cancer. And it’s one of the most addictive drugs on the planet.
Alcohol is extremely dangerous.
But for the most part, you won’t ever see or hear about that in the media, in movies, on television, or on the radio.
So we have built up these common beliefs that alcohol is needed for fun outings—a necessary social lubricant for weekend gatherings, occasions, and events. And we assume that quitting alcohol will be a painful process because we might struggle without the confidence and social skills that alcohol provides to our lives. We live in a collective mindset of denying the true dangers of alcohol, believing that alcohol is needed to have fun, and assuming that we can’t quit.
So in order to leave my drinking days in my past forever, I first had to Change My Mindset About Alcohol by reading a book called The Easy Way To Quit Drinking by Allen Carr. Carr’s book enlightened me to the fact that told me alcohol is not a necessary social lubricant for group outings. Alcohol is not needed to have fun. It’s 100% possible to quit drinking without losing your confidence, social prowess, or social life. And going stone-cold sober actually is not as painful as you think it is—if you find the right replacements for it.
#5- I Found Healthy Replacements For Alcohol’s Role In My Life
If you’re looking to leave your drinking days in your rearview forever—like I did—and put alcohol in your past, there’s one step in the process that you must NOT forget. This is important.
You have to figure out exactly what benefits alcohol provides to your life: camaraderie with friends, opportunities to make social connections, anxiety-relief, stress-release, temporary feelings of pleasure, depression-relief, or maybe a strong sense of adventure. And you need to find healthy alternatives to replace what alcohol provided for you.
If you’re struggling to come up with some replacements, don’t forget to re-read my blog post from last December about 6 Ways To Feel Good Without Drinking Or Smoking. There are plenty of ways to re-establish that camaraderie, anxiety-relief, stress-release, temporary pleasure, and opportunity for socialization that alcohol offered you in your drinking days.
Try hitting the gym, connecting with a passion for craft you love, practicing meditation, practicing compassion, self-development, expressing gratitude, or doing adventurous and exciting activities that don’t involve drinking (like traveling, sky-diving, or rock climbing).
This blog post could never have been possible without healthy alternatives that replaced alcohol’s benefits to my life. Finding Healthy Replacements For Alcohol’s Role In My Life—replacements like Transcendental Meditation, exercise, green tea, and passion for my work—was a crucial step in my journey that made my sobriety a reality.
#6- I Never Forgot My Reasons For Sobriety
I quit drinking because I wanted better mental and physical health, more sanity, more fulfillment, more peace of mind, more free time to spend on my work, more productivity, more clarity, more happiness, and ultimately more success. And more than anything else that I’ve listed here, My Reasons For Sobriety motivated me to stay away from alcohol through thick and thin over the past 2 years. My Reasons kept me going even during my most trying moments—like when I went on a trip to Las Vegas (the place where alcohol is served 24-7 and sipped openly on the streets) for a bachelor party only a month after I had quit drinking.
When all else failed, My Reasons were the rod and staff that kept me firmly grounded in sobriety for 2 Years straight. I was able to stay clean and sober for 730 days because I Never Forgot My Reasons For Sobriety.
So there you have it.
Today, I’ve Been Sober For 2 Years Straight And Here’s How I Did It:
- I Realized The Negatives Of Drinking Far Outweigh The Benefits
- I Made Sobriety My Goal And Wrote It Down On Paper
- I Asked Family And Friends To Hold Me Accountable To My Sobriety
- I Changed My Mindset About Alcohol
- I Found Healthy Replacements For Alcohol’s Role In My Life
- And I Never Forgot My Reasons For Sobriety
If getting sober and leaving alcohol in your past forever is a goal that you are planning to pursue, I strongly recommend that you follow all of the above-mentioned steps. Stay tuned for a book I’m writing—to be published in either 2016 or early 2017—called 10 Reasons To Give Up Alcohol And 10 Tricks To Help You Quit.
Sobriety is an amazing experience and a beautiful ride. But for those of you who are looking to continue drinking without destroying your wellbeing, I want to end this blog post by sharing a link to an article by our friends at PositiveHealthWellness.com. It’s about How To Enjoy Alcohol Without Sacrificing Your Health.
Not everyone is ready to jump headfirst into a lifelong commitment to abstinence from drinking. So if you are going to drink, you might as well do it in the healthiest way possible!
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