Quit Drinking With Identity Based Habits I Atomic Habits by James Clear

How to Quit Drinking With Identity Based Habits

There are easy ways and hard ways to break the habit of drinking. 

And if you’ve been trying to use positive (or negative) motivation – or willpower – you’ve been doing it the hard way. 

Here’s a secret: willpower doesn’t work.

If you’ve tried a bunch of times to stop drinking and have given up after 2 weeks or 2 months, this is the episode for you.  

In this episode I’m going to share with you the research and framework behind how to break your habit of drinking once and for all, without relying on willpower, white-knuckling it or hating the process. 

What I’ve found in the coaching work I do with women is that approaching not drinking based on the research into what works in terms of long term behavior change is the most powerful, logical and sustainable way to become a happy and healthy non-drinker. 

And the best book I’ve found on how to change your habits and behavior  is Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Here’s what doesn’t work when you’re trying to stop drinking:

  • Shaming or blaming yourself for drinking again when the physical, social and emotional environment you live in has set you up for failure
  • Relying on hitting a low enough ‘bottom’ so that you’ll finally have the motivation to not drink and the willpower to resist alcohol
  • Keeping your wine (or your alcohol of choice) in your home (so that you don’t have to ask your partner to change their behavior)
  • Relying on your partner, family and drinking friends as your main source of support for changing your relationship with alcohol

If you’ve tried to stop drinking before and don’t seem to get very far there are a lot of reasons why what you’ve been doing up until now hasn’t been working. 

Here’s what you’ll learn in today’s episode about the ways to change your behavior and stop drinking in a way that’s easier and set up in a way for long term success.

  • How to prime your physical environment and social support to overcome the moments when willpower isn’t enough and motivation fades
  • Why true behavior change is based on identity change – who you believe you are.

  • Because when you change your identity from a “red wine or chardonnay girl” to a “healthy, happy, confident and inspiring woman who doesn’t drink anymore because she feels better and does more without it” – then, when you don’t drink, you are simply acting IN ALIGNMENT with who you are
  • How to get rid of the limiting beliefs and fears you have about what your life will look like without drinking
  • Why it’s important to focus on your trajectory (the path that you are on and where it is leading you) rather than your end goal  
  • How altering the media and messages you surround yourself with (including the messages you tell yourself) can be the difference between success and failure

There are two more important ideas to take away from this podcast

First: The things that you believe can influence the way you act, and the way that you act can influence the things that you believe. 

The core argument that James Clear makes in Atomic Habits is that true behavior change is identity change, because once you start to see yourself as a new type of person, then you don’t even really have to force yourself to do it as much. 

You’ll recognize this in what people have said around you as they go through habit transformations. 

  • They’ll say things like, “Yeah, I don’t know. It was hard in the beginning (for example when they start a fitness practice), but now I can’t even imagine not working out. 
  • It’s just part of who I am,” or “I don’t really motivate myself to meditate. I’m a meditator.” 
  • Once you start to assign those labels—I’m a meditator. I’m a writer. I’m a runner—then it becomes much easier to stick with it. 
  • You’re not even really pursuing behavior change anymore; you’re just acting in alignment with the type of person you already see yourself to be. 

Behavior and beliefs are a two-way street. 

Second: That  willpower might be able to overpower your environment for a day or a week or an hour. But in the long run, your environment almost always wins that battle. 

  • And one of the biggest elements of that is not only the physical environment like the drinks in your fridge.  
  • But also your social environment. The desire to belong often overpowers the desire to improve.
  • And so instead of relying on motivation to drive you, work on priming your physical and social environment for success.

When you listen to this episode on how to stop drinking with identity based habits I hope you’ll take away some practical ideas you can implement today to stop drinking in a way that makes it easier on you to not drink – so that you can stop relying on motivation and willpower and blaming yourself when you’re not successful. 

I’m hoping that this episode will help you rethink your approach to not drinking and create your new identity as a healthy and happy, powerful, confident and inspiring woman who doesn’t drink anymore because she feels better and does more without it. 

Links and resources mentioned

Grab a copy of Atomic Habits by James Clear

Podcast episodes on how to prime your mindset, physical and social environment for success in quitting drinking

Episode 25 Mistakes Women Make When Quitting Drinking

Episode 3 – 7 Strategies To Get You Through Your First Week Without Alcohol

Episode 10 – 10 Things You Need In Your Sober Toolkit

Episode 23Feeling Bored In Sobriety? Things To Know + What To Do

Connect with Casey McGuire Davidson

Grab your Free Sober Girls Guide To Quitting Drinking

Get support during the holiday season from women who are on the alcohol-free path with the guide on How to find and join my Favorite Private Sober Facebook groups

Website: www.hellosomedaycoaching.com

Instagram: Casey @ Hello Someday Coaching (@caseymdavidson)


The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The Sober Girl’s Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement. 

Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.

In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more. 

Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life. 

Be sure to grab the Free Sober Girl’s Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.

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