How To Keep Resolutions, According To A Comedian Who Quit Drinking

By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 4, 2016 8:10PM

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Photo of Andy via Facebook

Chicago comedian Andy Boyle has succeeded at two of the most common (and most commonly abandoned) New Year’s resolutions. As he detailed in a viral Medium post, later republished in the Tribune, two years ago he quit drinking; since then, he’s also dropped two t-shirts sizes.

It was about more than losing weight and giving up booze: in the process, he “went from hating myself daily to relatively enjoying myself."

Major changes like these are hard for most people—even in January, when a lot of us try really hard and start pretending to like green juice—so I talked with Andy about how he made lifestyle changes that stick.

Though his approach worked for him, he doesn't think it's for everyone (and dear reader, we'd like you to know that we appreciate you just the way you are!) “I’m not trying to judge what other people do, or tell them that this is a life that they need to live,” he said. "It’s just what’s kind of worked for me.”

He made really granular to-do lists.

“I’d been trying to lose a bunch of weight,” he said, “and instead of saying, “I need to lose 80 pounds,” [I’d say], “I need to lose 5 pounds.” And then after you lose that five pounds, you then set a new goal, which is five more pounds. Something a little smaller, something that you can objectively count, that’s so much easier for me.”

He didn’t quit anything.

“Especially when you’re making big lifestyle changes, it [can help to think], ‘I’m just taking a break.’ Maybe the break will last 80 years. But instead of saying, ‘I quit it,’ it’s much easier for me to be like, ‘I’m just not doing this one thing right now.’ That makes it a lot easier for my brain to accept what’s going on.”

He used his new free time to do projects he used to just bluster about in bars.

“I never considered myself a writer or creator anything, because when I’d leave work, I wouldn’t go work on that novel, I wouldn’t go study how to write screenplays. But in the last two years, I’ve had all this extra free time. I’ve been able to finish a lot of shitty first drafts, and a lot of shitty second drafts!”

He used the power of babies.

“I’m an uncle,” Andy said. His nephew, now three and a half, helps motivate him. “I kind of want to set a good example by showing, ‘Hey, look at this thing I did!’

He changed his media diet.

That meant “unfollowing people on Twitter and Facebook who were incredibly negative.” (He also changed his own stand-up routine: “I’ve moved away from a lot of comedy that’s about how much I suck.”)

Andy also started listening to Pete Holmes’ “You Made It Weird” comedy podcast. “I don’t like the term hippie-dippie, but that’s a phrase I was raised with,” Andy said; it’s how he initially would have described Holmes’ emphasis on loving yourself. But he slowly started to absorb it.

He didn’t fetishize rock bottom.

“There doesn’t need to be a grand impetus,” Andy said. “There doesn’t have to be a big revelation.” He initially quit drinking because he was coming down with a steady stream of colds, and it was annoying.

He got lucky.

Andy didn’t feel the addictive pull of drinking the way some people do. “I don’t want to belittle the hard work a lot of my friends and loved ones have had to go through on some of these issues,” he said, by claiming it’s inherently easy.