#DryEighteen: Half-way there

Rob O'Donohue | July 2018 | 9 minutes

Check out Rob's blog giving the background to his dry year here, and his first 100 days here.


Woah, we're half way there
Woah, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand, we'll make it I swear

I’m sorry for the Bon Jovi reference and lyrics. I’m even more sorry for planting the tune in your head, which you’re now probably humming.

I’m surprised that the half-way marker crept up on me so quickly. When starting out back in January, six months seemed like a long, long time, never mind the full year. The fact that it has arrived so quickly is definitely a positive sign. I decided to mark this milestone with another bit of reflection.

Since my first 100 days, despite my concerns over the summer, longer days, beer garden weather, and the World Cup, all of which would have been ingredients that would make for a great day/night’s boozing, it’s been pretty easy going. My levels of social unease when not drinking have dropped and I’m not overthinking these nights out as much as I was at the start.

Here are three big events I’ve been to over these three months which would usually have been boozy. They’ve tested my resolve and taught me a lot – most of all, how to have a grand time alcohol-free.

The conference

I’ve attended a good few of these over the years. They generally are great fun and excellent for networking. But in the past the highlight for me were ‘free drinks’ receptions. So, when I signed up to attend one in Berlin in early May I was pretty excited, but also nervous – there would be Bierkrugs full of Weissbier just crying out to be drunk! Besides that, I’m an introvert, and have often leant on Dutch courage to help me network.

I was right: there was free German beer and wine (hmmm…) all over the place. But they provided some non-alcoholic beers too, and having a bottle in my hand helped – though I understand this isn’t the route for everyone. More than that, stepping out of my booze comfort blanket forced me to talk and engage more, and I got more from the event than I would have in the past. Success!

The best friend’s 40th

It’s the year of the 40th for my friends, and another very close friend was celebrating theirs towards the end of June. This was the first time that I was out with my oldest group of friends since taking up the Dry18 challenge, and I knew it was going to be another hurdle.

But things are always worse in your head than what actually happens.

To start with, my dry 18 partner-in-crime (or in this case zero crime) Richie was there, so we could support each other. As the group all were very much up-to-speed with the #Dry18 challenge, it was well respected. Nobody tried to get us to drink. It didn’t hurt that, as I wasn’t drinking, I was able to play chauffeur on the night.

As both Richie and I have taken a shine to the Heineken Zero, we actually had to smuggle bottles of it into the bar as it wasn’t being served there. Come on bars, get with the programme! For many a year, as broke students, we might have been guilty of hustling in some cheap vodka from an off-licence into a pub, saving a few €/£ and getting drunk cheap. Now it’s non-alcoholic beer. How times have changed.

The holiday

The morning after my friend’s 40th my girlfriend and I were heading away for a week’s holiday – the first holiday of Dry18. In the past a week off, with nothing to get up for the next morning and that sense of freedom from responsibility, would have given me the perfect excuse to have a few drinks every day to help me ‘enjoy’ the time off more.

My top tip for your first dry holiday is not to challenge yourself too much. For your first run, why not do what we did and choose somewhere laid back where you won’t have booze pushed at you all the time? We chose the exotic Eastbourne. You can build up to Ibiza.

So often in the past, I’d return to work on the Monday after a week off feeling that I needed another holiday to recover from the one I was just on. This time round, there was none of that. I felt relaxed and refreshed.

How do I feel now?

Whenever I set out for a long run, I always find the first half more challenging than the second. Despite having more energy in the first half, turning the proverbial corner and knowing I’m on the homeward stretch I feel totally different. It feels like every step I take I’m getting closer to home, and that gives me the strength to keep going. So I thought, now that I’m on the return leg of Dry18, I would feel the same.

But I don’t. And that’s not a bad thing. The reason it’s not such a big relief is because I don’t have that same sense of struggle as I do when running long distances. So, as a result, I’m not getting that great sense of relief that I’ve turned the corner and am homeward bound.

Taking this break has been great. I’ve gained confidence, my blood sugars are in better shape, and I’ve even been able to share my learnings through blog posts like this. If any of the above words and insights help someone else on their own expedition, then that’s awesome. ‘Til the next one. Cheers!

Rob is a qualified Executive Coach. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics. Rob is currently a director of strategy and business operations in Cork, Ireland.

Connect with Rob via, email, twitter, Facebook or his website.