“Listen,” he said. “It’s important. We are all. Free. To do. Whatever. We choose. To do.” – paraphrased from Richard Bach, Illusions.
Today marks 200 days alcohol free for me. During that time, I have not had a single “slip” or “made a mistake” (in relation to alcohol, I’ve made plenty of other mistakes).
The past 200 days have included:
An AF Valentine’s Day
An AF St. Patrick’s Day
An AF vacation (spring break at Disney World)
An AF industry conference (in Las Vegas, of all places)
An AF firm leadership conference
An AF birthday
An AF 4th of July
An AF night following the death of our beloved Rottie
I lost count of all the starts and stops I had when I tried to stop drinking but then I DECIDED to stop drinking. No debate, no discussion, and no compromise. That was simply how it was going to be. That decision made the past 200 days pretty simple. Not easy, but simple. And I can honestly say that IT GETS SO MUCH EASIER the longer you go AF.
The first step is to really spend some time in self-reflection and contemplate if being Alcohol Free is really what you want; and you have to be truly honest with yourself. Then, after much self-reflection, if you choose to be AF, then DECIDE to be AF.
AND I MEAN DECIDE.
I’ve had moments of temptation, uncertainty, and doubt these past 200 days. But those moments are outweighed exponentially by the moments of peace, clarity, and JOY I’ve had. I wish everyone could feel the same things I have. But, that’s the beauty, you CAN feel those things.
If you truly want them.
Over the next two days, I am going to reach separate milestones. Wednesday will mark 150 days alcohol free. Standing between me and that milestone? My birthday, spent out of town at my firm’s leadership conference; a bonding, brainstorming, networking filled boozefest. The universe really does has a sense of humor. That, or it’s decided it wants me to work a little harder for this one.
Tomorrow night is the opening reception and, afterwards, my group is taking me out for my birthday dinner. In the past, a night like that would have lasted into the wee hours of the morning and would have ended with me staggering to my room and collapsing on my bed while still mostly dressed. The next instant, my alarm would ring and I’d need several moments to decide if I could get up without my head splitting in two and / or estimating if I could vomit into the trash can across the room without making too much of a mess. I used to think that was a good time.
And now? I know exactly how tomorrow night will go. I will attend the opening reception and will have conversations with tipsy individuals which I will remember (although they may not). I will have a very pleasant dinner with my group, enjoy myself thoroughly, have more pleasant conversations (with increasingly tipsy coworkers), be in bed at a reasonable hour, and wake up Wednesday morning feeling energetic and refreshed. A wonderful night all around.
I know that’s how the evening will go tomorrow because I am following the first rule of success on this alcohol free journey. Decide. The evening will go the way I have described because I have DECIDED that is how it will go. No doubt, no uncertainty, no hesitation, and no anxiety. It will just be.
In reaching any goal, the first step is to decide you want to achieve it. No, I take that back. The first step is to DECIDE YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE IT. Make that decision absolute and non-negotiable. And don’t be interested in your goal, commit to it. As they saying goes, “if you’re interested, you’ll do what’s convenient. If you’re committed, you’ll do whatever it takes.”
If you want to be alcohol free then DECIDE to be alcohol free. Be ready to do whatever it takes to reach that goal. It won’t make the process easy, but it will make the process simple. Tomorrow night will be simple for me. I won’t drink. Period. I’m not feeling any stress or anxiety about the evening because I know it will end with me sober and snuggled up in my hotel bed, smile on my face, dreaming of the beautiful dawn just a few hours away.
The current version of me thinks THAT is a good time.
Next: Part 2 – Survive
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More by this author : Succeeding at Taking a Break from the Booze