7 Reasons Why I Stopped Drinking

About six years ago, I stopped drinking alcohol.

I want to let you know up front: I’m not against drinking.

I don’t believe that drinking means that you’re bad or immoral or any of those things. My wife and friends still drink, so it’s not about that. 

The last time I had alcohol was the night that AJ told me we were pregnant with our oldest son, Jasper.

You should also know that I drank a lot before that. 

Was I an alcoholic? I don’t know. I guess it depends on what the definition of an alcoholic is.

I never got into rehab or missed work. Maybe I was what some might call a “high functioning alcoholic.” I once heard that the definition of an alcoholic is someone who simply drinks to get drunk. By that definition, I was an alcoholic. It wasn’t like, “Oh I like the taste of this more than anything else.” And I was never interested in alcohol as a hobby or in the process of how it was crafted.

Obviously, if this is something you or a loved one are struggling with, you should consult with a mental health professional. And again, I’m just sharing my own story here. 

So here are seven reasons why I stopped.


The first reason I stopped drinking is regret reduction.

When I looked back at my life, I realized that 100% of the regrets that I ever had were from when I was drunk.

I didn’t have a ton of regrets in my life, but I had some big ones, and in all of them, I was drunk.

So I thought, “If I stopped drinking, maybe I’ll have fewer regrets in my life.”

It’s just a reduction of the chance of, for example, me ever getting a DUI.

Having regrets doesn’t become impossible, but the likelihood of it decreases, and this is how I structure my whole life.

Nothing is guaranteed, but there are these principles of success, that if you follow, you’re going to improve the odds in your favor and decrease the chance of having regrets.


The second reason is my mental health. 

I’ll never forget the time I actually said these words out loud, “I have more fun when I’m drunk”.

There was something about the way I said it that really locked me up.

It hit me so hard because I realized that, despite whatever choices I’ve made, whoever I’m around, whatever I’m doing, whatever goals I’m pursuing, I still have the most fun when I’m drunk.

That felt like a risky orientation of my life, happiness, and mental health. It was a very sobering moment because I realized that’s not how I want to live.

I want to be happy without this.

I want to be able to be happy, every moment of every day, without any substances.

I’m a Christian, so my relationship with God is super important, but outside of that, I want to be independent of things that are happening around me. I don’t want my circumstances or substances to dictate my happiness.

I also realized that I diluted my body’s ability to deal with stress, pain, heartbreak, and struggle because I was medicating with alcohol.

There are ways that you should process these sorts of things and, instead, I just started drinking. 

A couple of years after I started my speaking, I started traveling a lot in first class, so alcohol was always available. At some point, I accidentally developed a dependency on the substance to help me resolve stress and deal with rejection and frustration. I was disallowing my body’s natural ability to deal with those things in a healthy way. 

Once I realized these things, I wanted to be in charge of my own happiness regardless of whatever’s happening in my life.


The third reason is actually very practical: It is financial savings.

I remember, one year, we got a personal accountant for our family and we would send in our receipts every month.

At the end of the year they sent us a report of what exactly we spent money on and there was this one line labeled “alcohol.”

It was 1,000s of dollars!

If you would have told me at the start of the year that Rory is someone who spent 1,000’s of dollars on alcohol, I’d have been like “no way, you’re crazy!”.

But when I saw it in front of me in black and white, I realized that all the birthdays, dinner drinks, brunch drinks, and clubs, added up. 

It wasn’t just 1,000s of dollars, it was the opportunity cost as well.

What if I would have invested those 1,000s of dollars into my own education and personal development?

I could have used that money to go to conferences, travel the world, or even blow it on silly things like shirts, trips, or TVs.

If I would have taken a few 1,000 bucks every year from the time I was 20 to 25 and put them in an investment, it would have grown to be worth hundreds of 1,000s of dollars by the time I was ready for retirement.


The fourth reason is competitive advantage. 

I gotta give a shout out to Lewis Howes because he was one of the high performing people in my life.

As I got to know him, I realized that he doesn’t drink. And I was like, “Wow, I didn’t even know you could be successful in business and not drink.”

It was crazy that, somehow, my default had become that drinking was mandatory. 

Rory Vaden quote

So I asked Lewis about it one time and he described that he was an athlete who was looking for every competitive advantage that he could get.

When I heard that, I asked myself, “Does alcohol increase or decrease my odds of achieving my goals?”

It hit me! If there are three people in a race, all things being equal, will the nondrinker have a competitive advantage? Yes, they probably will. 


The fifth reason is physical vigilance. 

I had a friend named Joe. He was a Navy SEAL for 24 years and went on 13 combat tours.

Joe didn’t drink and I asked him why he didn’t.

He said, “Rory, when you’re a Navy SEAL, you realize that at any moment, you could be in a life or death situation.” 

He explained that you could be walking down the street, and in a split second, somebody walks up behind you and you’re in a life or death situation. 

Then he asked me, “Rory, if a hurricane hits your house while you’re drunk will you be able to react correctly?” 

And of course, I said no.

In that moment I realized that, by getting drunk, I have handicapped my own ability to maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome in any life or death situation. 


The sixth reason is spiritual guidance. 

I don’t want to spend too much time on this one because I don’t want you to think that you’re unspiritual if you drink because that isn’t true; even Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding. 

As a man of God, I’ve read the Word and that’s my source of truth.

As I was looking at 1 Peter 5:8 which says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”, I also remembered Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Again, that doesn’t mean you can’t ever drink, it just means be mindful of the idea that your body is supposed to be a dedication to the Lord. But please understand, the Bible, to me, is not a rulebook, it’s an instruction manual and these are things that I saw in there that really resonated with me. 


The seventh reason is setting an example for my boys. 

My dad was an alcoholic, his dad was an alcoholic, and it ran in our family.

But for me, I asked myself, who do I want my boys to see me becoming?

What do I want them to see me doing?

I’m not very concerned about knowing what they think of me, though it’s important; my main concern is knowing that whatever it is that I do, is likely to give them permission to do it in their own lives as well. 

Even if I am spared from ever becoming an alcoholic or getting to the place where it’s ruining my life, they might not be so lucky.

I don’t want to contribute to that.

My boys are going to drink one day. Maybe I’ll have a drink with them then, I don’t know, really.

It’s just about setting that example for them. 

I want to share with you the three methods I used to stop drinking: 


To me, this is super important because if you want to make any change in your life, you have to start thinking of yourself as a different person; that’s literally what change means.

I’m on my way to being someone who is different from who I currently am, or who I have been and doing that will require work.

It’s going to require effort. It’s going to require intention and discipline. This means that it’s going to be difficult, or at least, uncomfortable.

So, you really need to know why you’re doing what you want to be doing.


The human brain is a computer and it will happily do whatever you tell it to do.

Don’t try to convince yourself to artificially not do something that you really do want to do.

Instead, realize that you naturally won’t do the things you don’t want to do. 
If you tell yourself, “I love alcohol. Alcohol makes me relax. Alcohol makes me happy,” that will become true.

When that is your “base programming,” then you try to change your behavior, it will be pretty hard to do.

The issue is your behavior doesn’t align with the programming underneath. You’re saying, “I like alcohol,” then you’re trying to behave in a way that is in conflict with that saying. 
The actual way to change your behavior is by changing the root programming, and that’s simple, but definitely not easy.

If you want to stop any habit in your life, you have to attack the underlying programming.

How do you do that?

Tell yourself over and over and over again. Your brain believes whatever you tell it most often. 

I’m going to share with you my “alcohol affirmations” I read to myself every day for the first few weeks:

  • Alcohol makes my body soft. 
  • Alcohol slows me down.
  • Alcohol puts me in a less than optimum state to work. 
  • Alcohol makes me less likely to achieve my goals. 
  • Alcohol makes me sleep less. 
  • Alcohol weakens my decision making. 
  • Alcohol makes me more vulnerable to a physical attack. 
  • Alcohol puts me at risk of a DUI. 
  • Alcohol increases my caloric intake. 
  • Alcohol increases the chance of me doing something dishonoring to my wife. 
  • Alcohol raises the likelihood that I will eat other bad foods. 

If you say those things over and over again, it changes the programming in your head.

It changes everything because, now, you’re building a new base programming and your behavior isn’t working against your brain anymore.


There’s two specific types of choices that I replaced in my life that have made a huge difference. 

The first one was just literally replacing what I was holding in my hand and giving myself more options.

When I’m out at dinner, I’m used to holding wine.

When I come home at the end of the day, I grab a beer.

So instead of drinking beer, I drank Topo Chico, which is basically sparkling mineral water.

It was a glass bottle and it made the same sound as popping open a bottle of beer, so it gave me a similar experience to when I drank a beer.

Even now when I go out to dinner, I’ll order sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice and it’s nowhere near the cost of a cocktail. Now, if I really want a cocktail, what I will do is I’ll order a mocktail.

Almost every bartender loves making mocktails because they don’t get asked for it that often. 

Those are easy choices, but the more difficult choice, and frankly, the more powerful choice that I identified I needed, was to replace the time I was spending with two specific individuals.

When I looked back on the regrets I had, I realized that there’s these two specific people in my life, that when I’m around them, I am drunk.

Rather than trying to change what they’re doing, I basically said that I have to replace myself out of that circumstance.

I’m a big believer that you usually don’t need to change your circumstance, you need to change your attitude.

In this case, and whenever you’re trying to change a physical behavior, it’s really important to change your physical surroundings.

So cutting those people off was a big thing for me.

To be honest, the first few weeks were pretty difficult, but after those passed, it got a lot easier. 

I listed the seven reasons why it mattered to me to stop drinking and all you need is one good reason that matters to you, and you need to be doing it for you.

If you’re making changes in your life for someone else or because you think you’re supposed to, it’s not going to be sustainable.

Because then, you wouldn’t be changing your identity. 

You change your identity by changing your purpose and changing your why and deciding that you’ve got a reason to become a different person- your reason, not anyone else’s.

Your rules, not anyone or anything else’s.

It needs to be genuine.

I’m rewriting, redefining my own identity.

Then I get to rewrite my programming, which, to me, is the most practical part; reading those affirmations.

The third thing is that you have to replace your choices, give yourself alternatives, and be in different circumstances.

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