In the vast time I’ve spent attempting to drive my liver from my body like a wounded mastodon flushed over a cliff by a drum-banging neanderthal, I’ve met all manner of devoted drunkards.

Although these colleagues in semi-consciousness may outwardly appear to be enormously successful in their mission to oblivion, I consistently hear them voice the same frustrations about their boozing, which perhaps will sound familiar:

—I’m working hard each night to achieve my personal drinking goals, but often I still end up cogent enough to remove my shoes before bed and remember a discomforting amount of the night’s events the next day. It seems like I’m drinking as much as ever, but clearly something is wrong. What can I do?

—I’ve been so busy recently that it’s cutting into my drinking time. Lately I’m lucky to get on a decent tear twice a week. How can I get my priorities back on track and combat the time-leeches of my job and family?

—I’m not proud of this, but I haven’t vomited in two weeks. And I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’ve blacked out in even longer. Have I lost my edge?

—I just can’t drink like I could when I was younger. What can I do to regain that inner hunger for self-destruction that earned me the nickname Splatter in college?

—Lately, I haven’t been able to handle hard liquor, and the other day I even found myself refusing a double of well tequila offered by a 50-plus-year-old biker chick. I feel so ashamed, and just hope none of my friends saw. Does this make me a pussy?

The answer to the last question is, “Yes, that does make you a pussy.” But the rest of those complaints are real concerns that haunt otherwise exceptional drinkers everywhere. I myself used to lie awake late at night in a bed that wasn’t spinning half as much as it should have, haunted by worries about my drinking.

But one day, as I left a shit job at a horrible store, my aged-Jewish-stereotype boss gave me a book that changed my life. This book was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. With Mr. Covey’s guidance, I have empowered myself to achieve maximum personal congruence in my drinking, taking it to a level of synergy that I could have only dreamed of before. I would now like to share the wisdom of Mr. Covey as applied to boozing, and present The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Drunks.

Be Proactive. If you are going to take charge of your juicing, you’re going to have to be Proactive about it. Remember, no one can take responsibility for your irresponsible drinking but yourself, and you’ll never end up on your back if you don’t get off your ass first. Don’t just wait for an opportunity to come to you, take the Initiative and round up the troops for a night at the bars. People who don’t want to come should be classified as sources of Negative Energy and quickly eliminated. Expand your Circle Of Influence to include as many drinking buddies as possible, thus Empowering the greatest possible amount of alcohol abuse.

Begin with the End in Mind. Now that you’ve set the stage for some problem drinking, make sure everyone has the right attitude. Do you ever start nights out with the plan to “Grab a few drinks?” If so, this is a problem. By setting such low goals for yourself, you are creating an obstacle to achieving a Private Alcohol Victory. What you need to do is shift your Paradigm, from merely going drinking, to getting plowed. Shift your aim to higher, more specific goals, as in: “Hey Bob, let’s go lie in pools of our own bodily fluids in about eight hours?” Or perhaps: “Who wants to let the monkey take control?” Or even: “Lets go fuck someone really really ugly.” Visualization is the key.

Put First Things First. Now it’s time to get serious. Create a Time Management Matrix for yourself, with two sections. Label one half “Important” and the other “Unimportant.” Under the former, you’ll want to put “drinking”, and maybe “shoot neighbor’s poodle,” but keep it short. Under the latter, put everything that stands between you and the inability to stand. This includes “bills,” “work,” “school,” “God,” and “relationships.” Now go take a drink. There, don’t you feel more empowered already? You’re taking care of your Primary Objective. Go ahead, take another half dozen. Now you’re on the road to Soused Synergy.

Think Win/Win. Once you’ve reevaluated your priorities, it’s time to head to a reputable drinking establishment to engage in some Creative Cooperation. Interdependence is more desirable than Independence, and this is never truer than in a bar. Why pay for your own drinks when you can utilize simple techniques of Interpersonal Leadership to cadge them from others? When someone buys you a drink, you win because you have a drink, and they win because they get to hear you explain why suspension bridges are “some really fucked up shit.” See? Win/Win.

Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. If bars have a golden rule, this is it. The next time it appears you haven’t been understood by the bartender when ordering a “dubbuh zhak n’ coke,” take a moment to try and understand what he’s saying to you. He might be cutting you off. See? Now you’ve established Open Lines of Communication. If this is the case, it is now your turn to use those lines to make him understand that he is a Nazi bastard.

Habit Five is also the most important thing you can keep in mind when trying to hook up late at night. There is no physical or personal defect that cannot be cured by dim lighting, 10-plus drinks and a constant mix of smiling and nodding.

Synergize. This is the destination that all the aforementioned habits lead to. Achieving Synergy is an amazing feeling, like discovering a full liter of Grey Goose left at your house the morning after a party, or finding out it’s not actually herpes. Once you synergize you’ll find that you’re stunningly charismatic, an incredible dancer, exempt from the rule of law, able to explain complex and multidimensional political issues in eight words or less (two of which will be “fuck”), and a surprisingly good climber. Your Driving Forces will be able to overcome all Restraining Forces, so capitalize on the opportunity and throw your weight around.

Sharpen the Saw. Now that you’ve fully synergized, it’s time for some Balanced Self Renewal. This is perhaps the most personal of the seven habits, and you must endeavor to do whatever it takes to meet the next morning’s Four Dimensions of Renewal: Physical, Social/Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. I recommend, in order: vomiting, masturbation, bloody marys and masturbation.

You have now mastered the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Drinkers. But remember, true alcoholic excellence is not a single accomplishment, but rather a long and proud pattern of consistent success, so don’t slack off in your effort. By centering your priorities and focusing on the doable with the long-term goal of synergy, you will be empowered to enter an Upward Achievement Spiral, increase your ability to Learn, Commit and Do and get more fucked up than you ever dreamed possible.

—Ben Rohrbaugh

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