Alcohol is widely accepted in the western world and part of its social fabric. While tobacco is increasingly passé, alcohol is still going strong. More often than not people frown upon smokers while enjoying a brew. If you ace your exam, you drink alcohol to celebrate. If you fail your exam, you also drink alcohol to soften the pain. The decision tree ends with a cold beer more often than not. You meet your colleagues for a couple of beers after work, you watch football drinking beer and you have a BBQ with beer, to name just a few occasions.
The alcohol consumption is dictated for the most part by culture. Beer is an essential part of German culture and we take pride in the fact that we have strict regulation of the permitted ingredients (reinheitsgebot). As a result, you can buy a wide selection of high-quality beer for a low price everywhere. You can buy beer at age 16 and hard alcohol like rum at age 18 in Germany. I can remember sipping some beer from my grandfather as a child. Drinking alcohol is the norm and more often than not you have to justify yourself if you don’t drink. This is especially true in the context of university life. In a way, drinking alcohol is the way of least resistance. It’s the default mode of life in Germany.
The annual Oktoberfest in Munich is a reflection of German beer culture. It’s the world’s largest Volksfest and millions of visitors pilgrimage there to enjoy the liquid gold. Personally, I haven’t been to the Oktoberfest yet, but I have been to the strong beer festival, which is the second big beer festival in Munich. I also went to the Wasen in Stuttgart, which is the world’s second-largest beer festival. Both festivals are slightly cheaper and less touristy than the more well-known Oktoberfest.
Not all alcoholic beverages are created equal. The alcohol concentration ranges from 5% in beers to 30-40% in spirits. A couple of years ago I quit spirits and since then, I am only drinking beer (preferably Astra, Flensburger and Krombacher) because I prefer the taste of beer and the lower alcohol concentration. Now it’s time to for the next step: quitting alcohol altogether.
I think the main advantage of alcohol is the more relaxed and upbeat mood in a group setting. Like I said before, alcohol is a central part of social life in many countries. Of course, you can go out without drinking any alcohol, but certain activities are less fun when you are the only one, who isn’t drinking. I prefer to skip these events altogether and consequently, your social life takes a hit.
Alcohol consumption is accompanied by several negative side effects. This isn’t a scientific health study and therefore I am focussing on the most important ones and their impact on my life.
From a business standpoint, this one is most problematic. The consumption of more than one or two alcoholic drinks has an impact on your energy level the next day. When you have a hangover, you either don’t work at all or you work less productive (maybe 60%). As an entrepreneur you try to align your lifestyle with productive working hours and each working hour you lose hurts, especially if it’s spent curing a hangover watching Netflix (check out Hoop Dreams) instead. I came to the conclusion that drinking is a luxury I cannot afford. It’s one thing to drink as a student, but it’s a whole new ballgame if you try to get a business off the ground as an entrepreneur. Everything has its time.
It doesn’t make sense to eat clean and exercise four or five times a week and then fuck up your fitness level with alcohol on the weekends. When I haven’t drunk alcohol for weeks and I start drinking again, I can observe my decreasing fitness level in real time, especially my endurance. I have to pay the price for my debaucheries on the basketball court. This decline becomes more and more obvious as I am approaching my thirties.
This effects are linked to the overall fitness level. Alcohol harms your health on many levels and I am going to explain how in a second. But more importantly, if you want to rock a six-pack like Brad Pitt in Fight Club, you should stop drinking right off the bat. Five reasons drinking alcohol makes you fat:
- Alcohol has a lot of calories.
- Alcohol makes you eat less healthy.
- Alcohol damages your stomach, kidneys and liver.
- Alcohol lowers your testosterone level.
- Alcohol increases your appetite.
Another factor, which is often overlooked, is the cost of alcohol. Alcohol is expensive, especially in clubs, and the costs add up over time. The money you spent on booze is missing in your budget and would be better spent invested in your business.
If you strive for greatness you can’t make mediocre choices. If you do the same like everyone else, for better or worse, you are going to get the same results like everyone else. Your lifestyle is a big part of this equation. I like a cold beer as much as the next guy, but the cost-benefit analyses is horrible. By all means, you can drink alcohol, but it should be an informed choice with the negative consequences in mind and not an unconscious habit. You have three options:
- Keep on drinking. Business as usual. Not really an option.
- Mindful drinking, one or two drinks max. It’s alright, but it’s kind of a half-assed compromise.
- Stop drinking altogether. The Julian Power way of life. You have to pay a price for greatness and I think it’s a reasonable price in this case.
Option three is easier than option two in my experience. With option two you always have to think about when to drink alcohol and how much. It’s also more difficult to stop drinking when you have started. One beer leads to another, which leads to another and so on. It’s much easier never to drink alcohol because the decision-making process is fairly straightforward. You don’t waste mental energy on your alcohol consumption.
Once not drinking alcohol has become a habit it’s smooth sailing from there. Your energy level is higher and you can destroy the competition on the basketball court.
These three books are useful, if you decide to quit alcohol completely:
- The 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge: Your Simple Guide To Easily Reduce Or Quit Alcohol
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
- Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength
Sometimes people are surprised when you don’t drink. Don’t digress into lengthy explanations, just state that you don’t like the taste of alcohol or prefer not to drink because of fitness considerations. It’s hard to argue these points.
As you can see, the disadvantages of drinking alcohol far outweigh the advantages. But quitting alcohol is easier than you think. Give it a try and you will see the positive results. Now you know everything you need to know about the negative impact of alcohol.
The rest is up to you,
1. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength
2. The 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge: Your Simple Guide To Easily Reduce Or Quit Alcohol
3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business