How to have a Social Life Without Alcohol
So, you have made the choice to try the alcohol-free life for a few days, weeks, months or longer. Awesome! Now what?
The reality of having a rewarding social life or having fun may seem next to impossible without drinking. I know this, I have been there.
First and foremost, the key to success is knowing how to prepare, plan, execute and report your findings. It doesn’t have to be hard but will take some persistence on standing your ground. In fact, you may realize that you have been missing out on the best gift of all; presence.
It is amazing to see how you will show up, and by this, I don’t mean what you are wearing. I am referring to having your eyes opened to what is really going on around you and soaking in reality. Too often we neglect to enjoy our surroundings and experiences.
To be present and remember every single second is KING! It will require some shifting of priorities and keeping your intentions front and center. I promise you, over time this becomes easier to do.
Nobody misses the dreaded hangover, slip of the slurred tongue, drunk post on social media or the embarrassing stagger. Not one person.
Having a quality social life is important; I get it and agree wholeheartedly. But what is more important for the immediate time being is setting yourself up for success. This does not mean to be a hermit! You can absolutely have a great time and remain in full control.
Now, let’s discover the “how”:
- PREPARE: Remind yourself why you are trying the alcohol-free life. Repeat over and over in your mind all the benefits of not drinking. You must be in a place that is meaningful with intention. Write your reasons down.
- PLAN: Know where you will be going, who will be there and what will be served, if possible. Have a mental picture of what this looks like so you can plan your strategy. Make a decision before you leave the house on how long you plan to stay. Most times, you will find that leaving midway through might be best. Staying too long will only cause you to start judging others on their drinking patterns and there is no room for judgment. Bail out early if needed, trust me on this.
- EXECUTE: Drive separately to the party, restaurant, or wherever the destination happens to be. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, you have the ability to make the decision to casually exit if you feel the need. Most times, you can pull this off without any of the guests noticing. If it’s a dinner party, muster up an excuse that you need to leave for an early morning meeting or perhaps an exercise commitment with a friend. Better yet, have actual plans for the next morning!
- Avoid places and the people that are the main triggers for you. This could be your college haunt or the bowling alley where you met up with friends. Perhaps it’s the restaurant or bar that featured happy-hour with your favorite martinis. Don’t tempt yourself this early on. Having a plan is one thing, but being foolish is another. Know your cues and know your limits. This will become easier over time, but for now, it’s best to know your barriers on what you can handle. Remember, baby steps.
- If you are concerned with answering questions as to why you are not drinking, order a club soda with a splash of cranberry and lime. Nobody will even notice it’s a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage that will leave you feeling like a million bucks the next day. Keep reminding yourself throughout the evening how awesome you will feel the next morning. Keeping that as motivation is an amazing tool.
At any time you feel like giving in and saying, “screw-it”, STOP, and think through the drink. How could the night end up if you did? How would you feel the next day? Is it really worth it? Take a breath and consider the possible outcomes.
- REPORT: Keep a journal of what you were feeling, where you went, what you did and with whom. What were your successes? What were your failures? Did you slip? If so, don’t beat yourself up. Today is a new day. If you succeeded, congrats! How do you feel about that? Writing this down in a journal will be a great tool for you. **
Sounds contrite, but remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Success for a goal this size, or exploring a new way of living, is in trial and error. You are in training for success. We are humans, not perfect souls. Celebrate the little wins. It is within the little wins we have the biggest successes.