Experiment #1: A Month Without Alcohol

In life, there are good and bad times for soul-searching. A three-hour, solo road trip with a severe hangover is probably a bit of both, but really, it’s unavoidable. Sunday Scaries, anyone? Driving back from a family wedding in early August, I was trying to piece the previous night together. Thoughts like, “How the hell did I get back to the hotel?” to “Where did all of my cash go?” were coming and going, unanswered. I happened to be listening to a Tim Ferriss (4-Hour Work Week, etc.) podcast, when I remembered part of a previous challenge he’d issued to his blog readers – No Alcohol for a Month.

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m prone to making impulsive decisions, but this seemed like a no brainer. Coupling this with the fact that I couldn’t even think about drinking without also thinking about vomiting, I decided at that moment to begin the challenge. When I finally got home, I did a little research and found a handy app called “I’m Done Drinking,” to track my days, money & calories saved, and drinks not consumed. Here are the results, and my thoughts, post-challenge:

post1

(Wow. I wanted to smack myself after seeing these)

Health:

It’s pretty obvious that cutting back on booze will lead to an increase in overall health. What I didn’t realize is how dramatic the changes would be, or how quickly I’d start to notice them. In the past month, I’ve experienced an uptick in energy levels, better sleep, positive changes in body composition, a more stable mood and overall mental well-being – the list could go on and on.

Time:

For someone who enjoys getting an early start to their day, this was one of the most beneficial aspects of the challenge. It only took me a few days to get into the habit of waking up a few hours before work to hit the gym, meditate, get in some reading – all things that were cut out of my schedule on mornings where I’d been out the night before.

Costs:

Now that I know how much money I’d been spending on alcohol throughout any given month, it’s hard to justify continuing. I was pretty conservative when setting up the parameters on the “I’m Done Drinking” app, and I was still blown away by the numbers. The app also doesn’t factor in drinking-associated spending like Ubers, late-night food, hungover food, etc.  With the roughly $12,000 saved over the course of a year, I could: pay off my car, buy a new Macbook, take a few international trips, rent a bounce castle. I think you get the picture.

Final thoughts:

This was honestly much easier than I initially expected. My biggest test was attending a friend’s wedding at the end of my month. I won’t lie, there were a number of times that I felt extremely awkward not drinking (i.e. on the dance floor), where I’d normally use the effects of alcohol to feel more socially uninhibited. Those moments passed, and were extremely helpful in providing me some perspective/my biggest takeaway from the challenge/the idea for this blog:

In order to grow, I/we need to get away from what’s “comfortable”

My goal, and the point of this blog, will be to pick something new every month that forces me outside of my comfort zone – i.e. playing an open mic, dance classes, starting conversations with ten strangers a day. With a trip to Dublin, Portugal, and Spain coming up in October, I’ve decided to try language-hacking Portuguese for the next month. I’ll check in once a week with updates on my progress and thoughts on the experience. Be forewarned:

-Conor

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