As each day goes by I feel as if I add more restrictions to my consumption, especially in 2020. No alcohol, one coffee a day, no social media, no Netflix. As I sit on the couch, water in hand reading a book on mindset, my gaze drifts towards the black television screen. Then to the window and back to my book. My attention is lost and I wonder what I would watch.
These restrictions are intensely rewarding at the beginning. It’s very easy to see immediate results. These “results” are generally, more time. Your next issue then becomes how to spend this time productively. The benefits of these results then can become difficult to quantify. Am I simply replacing one distraction with another?
Cutting out alcohol for example. I did this initially as a way to lose weight and to promote progress when it came to weight training. Alcohol consumption can affect recovery and a hangover is certainly going to make motivation harder. In terms of performance, it has less of an effect on strength and power than it does endurance. Like most things though, it’s not black and white and it largely depends on how much has been consumed and how often. Moderation you could say.
After cutting out alcohol my productivity went through the roof and my general mood was fantastic. I was saving money, even going out with friends and having a reasonably good time sober. I was putting this down to purely cutting out alcohol when really, there was more at play. Deciding to cut things out of your life is a conscious choice that requires discipline and an element of self-control. Thus sticking to it will produce positive feelings of achievement regardless of what it is. You’re in control here and we benefit greatly from being in control of our own behaviour.
Then there’s a dip. The biggest problem for me was that my social calendar took a heavy hit. It’s hard work hanging out with people drinking when you’re completely sober, hearing the same stories over and over and trying to make sense of slurred words. Is this usually me? So I became more inclined to turn down invitations I would usually jump at. Plus the ones I was going to, I was leaving early. I woke up the next morning with a fresh head but also having had a difference social experience. 14 weeks in I am beginning to question this.
So how do you decide whether these results are worth it for the sacrifices you have to make? Unfortunately, that’s totally down to you. No-one can tell you what is the right way for you to live your life. You can’t find this figure in a book. The biggest battle I’ve been coming to terms with is this idea of moderation. Balance. The stoics called it temperance. Over indulging is just as harmful as never indulging. The trick is everything in moderation, including moderation.