Practically speaking Sober October should be a simple challenge. It’s usually harder to do something than to do nothing. Running a marathon takes energy and training, not running a marathon is the default. Every time we drink we choose to do so, and yet it feels like these decisions have already been made for us.
To stop drinking for a day, a week or a month we must make an active decision to abstain. In our culture the calendar can become the decision maker. St. Patrick’s Day, New Years, your birthday. These are all days that the calendar tells you that it is customary to consume alcohol.
Of course these are not mandatory for participation, like renewing your drivers license or gym membership. The real obligation comes from the social cost of not drinking. What you save in dollars, you may lose in social capital. The fear of missing out is a real challenge to overcome. Social obligation is a factor to consider when you take on this month long challenge.
Quitting drinking is more complex than simply preventing certain liquids from entering your body. Planning ahead can help you determine if there are any upcoming holidays, events or other social obligations where alcohol may be a focal point. Are these events really mandatory for you to attend, or is it social pressure that’s forcing you to go?
Answering these questions, and then following through with your plan is the biggest challenge of Sober October. If you’re like me, you still want to live a mostly normal life, while being free from alcohol. As you continue to get further in to October you will need to decided if you’ll act like a hermit, or try to be the only sober person at the party.
There’s really no shame in either of these approaches, but I will say that one is much harder. Either way you’ll have to make a plan and stick to it.