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 2 – 5 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 23 – Feeling Bored In Sobriety? Things To Know + What To Do
Connect with Casey McGuire Davidson
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
Connect with Casey
Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!
Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.
READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
Quit Drinking With Identity Based Habits, Because Willpower Doesn’t Work
drinking, habits, identity, person, wine, people, alcohol, willpower, life, episode, running, behavior, vote, healthy, environment, social, happy, buy, friends, motivation, positive, empowering, science, behavioral, change, self-study, Coaching, Program, building a life your love, without alcohol, The Sobriety Starter Kit, invest, private coaching, video, course, cost effective, access, own time, own schedule, framework, stop drinking, white-knuckling, step by step, process, break out, drinking cycle, build, strong, sober, foundation, mindset, achieve, goals, helping, small changes, approach, happy, beliefs, nondrinker, early sobriety, address, stumbling blocks, women, relationship with alcohol, strategies, implement, tools, sober toolkit, deal with, boredom, tips, free, first, 30 days, sober girls guide, suggestions, podcast, practical, effective, principles, shifting your beliefs, identity, leveling, physical, social, support, goals, finding people, same, positive path, celebrate, wins, reinforce, past your struggles, outcome, worth it, cravings, rewards, treats, explain, good habit, empowered, creating, identity-based habits, alignment, type of person, systems, focusing, trajectory, concept, stored energy, latent potential, relatable, actionable, leveling cues, responses, reaching, end goal, easy, training, Atomic Habits, translate, apply, negative consequences, shame, yourself, enough, bad bottom, quit drinking, quit, focusing, remembering, external results, reduce stress, real secret, the way you look at yourself, things you do every day, evidence, fear-based, vision, long term change, setting yourself up for failure, blame yourself, not enough discipline, follow through, issue, plans, executed, succeed, hard work, control, understand, applying, drinking, addictive, consume, drug, alcohol, victims, believing, relieves, withdrawal, messages, maladaptive, coping strategy, feel good, encouraged, privilege, adulthood, motherhood, relax, transition, impacting, physical health, overwhelmed, Four Laws, being loved, liked, respected, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, useful, collection of identities, labels, narrative, repeat, shapes our behavior, influence, way you act, identity change, habit transformations, hurting beginning, part of who I am, motivate, myself, meditate, labels, meditator, writer. runner, stick with, acting, alignment, see yourself to be, apply, valuable, easy, easier way, short-term strategy, long term, cognitive dissonance, evidence, cast a vote, desired identity, best path, building up, healthy, happy, confident, good time, cope with life, look great, feel great, proud of yourself, energy, optimism, exciting things, perform, embody, clean, organized, drinking a glass, bottle of wine, nonalcoholic, ginger beer, Lacroix, barbecue, Prosecco, sober treats, private, Facebook group, in that moment, tool, connection, helps, support you, give yourself credit, taking care of themselves, super important, they matter, celebrate, small wins, write down, encourage, inspires, makes the most of life, put down a few notes, every day, builds ups, over time, who you want to be, who you are, daily action, show up, best self, moving towards, dreams, take advantage, opportunity, adopt that identity, prompts, forgiving, self-image, social engagement, healthy habits, all areas of my life, emotion, strong, negative, reverse, messages, media surround yourself with, consistency, determination, visual reminders, bulletins board, belong, to be loved, supported, praised, social circle, groups, social norms, shared expectations, attractive, signal, courage, branch out, worry, anxious, depressed, belonging, loneliness, desire to improve, good values, desired behavior, lifestyle, normal habits, books, online groups, workout groups, listening, audio, unfollowing, social media, triggers, friends, better, quality of life, tribe, sacred space, feedbacks, Booze Free Brigade (BFB), She Recovers Together, conversation, communicating, effort, routines, environmental design, let time work for you, compounding benefits, self-improvement
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson
Hi everyone, I am really excited about today’s episode and the next three episodes I have lined up through the end of the year, because in them, we’ll be diving into how to break the habit of drinking in a positive and empowering way. And in a way, that’s based on the science of behavioral change. What actually works, instead of doubling down on willpower.
But before I dive into today’s episode, I wanted to invite you to learn more about a course I’ve been working on for a while now and what I’m launching soon, it’s an on demand self-study coaching program that’s launching on January 1, to help you kick off 2021 with the positive change in your life of building a life you love without alcohol. It’s called, The Sobriety Starter Kit. Now, I know that not everyone wants to or can invest in private coaching. And so, I’ve created a video coaching course, that is way more cost effective. It’s on demand anywhere in the world. You can access it when you want it or when you need it, on your own time and on your own schedule. In it, I’ll teach you the framework of how to stop drinking and build a life you love without alcohol in a positive and empowering way. And without white knuckling it or hating the process in the sobriety starter kit. I’ll teach you the step by step process I worked through with all of my private clients to break out of the drinking cycle, build a strong sober Foundation, and up level your mindset to achieve your goals and what you want in life. If you want to find out more about the course, including all the details, go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com and sign up for the waitlist. I’ll send you an email just as soon as the courses live. So, you can check out all the information. Alright, let’s get to the episode.
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
Well, hi there of all the episodes I’ve done, the next two are the ones I’m most excited about in terms of helping you understand how you can make small changes in your life based on the science of habit and behavior change to let you get out of the drinking cycle and feel happy and empowered and proud of your decision not to drink without feeling deprived or isolated. This episode is all about quitting drinking with identity-based habits. And it’s to help you understand why we all need to stop relying on willpower and motivation. And then beating ourselves up when willpower and motivation don’t work to start working with the true behavior change that is long lasting. And instead realize that true behavior change is driven by your beliefs and your environment. So, I’m hoping that this episode will blow your mind on rethinking your approach to not drinking and also reimagining how you can become a happy and healthy nondrinker. Now, I know it’s a tall order, but it’s something that I’ve been working on with my private coaching clients for the last 2 years. Now, if you’ve listened to my podcasts or the free sober coaching audios I have on my website, you know that I’ve recorded a number of episodes. It’s to help you get through early sobriety and address some of the stumbling blocks that women face when trying to change their relationship with alcohol.
So, Episode 2 was all about the mindset mistakes that most women make when they’re trying to stop drinking. Episode 3 was all about 7 strategies that you should implement to get through your first week without alcohol. Episode 10 was about 10 tools you need in your sober toolkit. And Episode 23 was all about how to deal with boredom and sobriety and feeling blah. I’ve also outlined 30 tips for your first 30 days without alcohol that you can get in my free sober girls guide to quitting drinking. And you can get that just by going to hellosomedaycoaching.com/yes. But while the suggestions and the tools I’ve talked about on this podcast, and in my Coaching, are practical, I want you to know that they’re also really effective. And they’re effective, because they’re based on implementing the principles of behavior change in a way that actually makes it easier for you to break the habit of turning to alcohol.
Now, a lot of the work I do is around shifting your beliefs and your identity. It’s about up leveling your physical and your social environment, to support your goals, and finding people who are on the same positive path that you’re on to celebrate your wins and reinforce that you can get past your struggles with outcome. And it’s worth it. And we also talk about how to be cravings and change your rewards and treats. But what I haven’t done before, and what I want to do now is to explain why I Coach women to quit drinking in the way that I do, what’s the framework behind the steps that I asked you to take. And it’s based on the science of lasting positive behavioral change, and the 4 Laws of how to break a bad habit and how to build a good habit.
So, in this episode, I’m going to dive into some of the key components of the science of lasting positive behavior change that you may not be familiar with, but are key to being able to stop drinking, and to feel positive, happy and empowered by that. And those are around understanding why motivation and willpower aren’t enough to help you reach your goals, and why other approaches are more successful. Now, I’ve done this work with a bunch of my clients. And they’ve all said that this framework was key in putting all the pieces together. And understanding why the small shifts we make every day are important, and why they work. It includes the importance of creating identity-based habits, and how, by doing things every day that are in alignment with the type of person you want to be is like casting a vote for that identity. We’re going to talk about how the systems you maintain and build on your habits are more important to actually than focusing on your goal. And why it’s important to talk about the trajectory of your change, not your end goal. Not your current position, but your trajectory, the path that you’re on, as well as the concept of stored energy and latent potential. And I’m going to break that all down for you in a way that I hope is understandable, and relatable, but also actionable. I want you to be able to take things away from this episode that you can put into action.
And in my next episode of the podcast, I’m going to focus on the Four Laws of Behavior Change, and how to create a good habit and break bad habits by up leveling your cues, your cravings, your responses, and your rewards. And to do that in a way so that it makes reaching your end goal easy.
Now, I spent a lot of time studying the science of behavior change and habits through the lens of my Coaching work and my Coaching Training. But I have to tell you, that the best book on habit change I’ve found, which breaks down the framework in a way that’s really understandable and actionable with clear steps is Atomic Habits by James Clear. Now, trust me. If I could have gotten James on this podcast as guest, I would have. But since I’m not able to swing that, I’m going to share with you the key parts of the framework he outlined in atomic habits and use that to translate it into how you can apply that framework into stopping.
So, let’s talk about what I did before I quit drinking. I want to talk about what I did, what approach I took, before I quit drinking, because it’s an approach that a lot of women are doing right now. And it’s an approach that isn’t working. So many of us tried to rely on motivation and willpower and focusing on a reading for negative consequences from our drinking, in order to change. So, I did this for years, you might be trying to shame yourself enough to want to stop drinking, or think that if you have enough of a bad bottom, you will want to quit, or focusing on remembering every shitty thing you’ve done, or every time something has slipped to convince yourself that you are that bad to have to stop drinking. And I want to tell you that if you’ve been using this approach for years, and it hasn’t been working, there’s a really good reason it hasn’t been working. Because it’s not about waiting until you want to quit, or understanding enough intellectually, so you no longer want to drink. It is about leveraging the laws of behavior change, so that they work for you. It’s about habit change, based on up leveling your physical and your social environment. Because a lot of the time we talk about habits battery, and for external results, you know, like habits can get you ABS you want or to lose the weight, or to double your income or to reduce your stress. And, yeah, its true habits are things you do every day, can build up for external results. But the important thing about habits is that they can also shift the way that you look at yourself. And I think that’s the real secret.
That habits, the things you do every day, give you evidence that you are a new kind of person, you are the kind of person that you want to be, it’s about creating positive identity-based habits, as in, I’m not drinking, so that by choosing not to drink, you’re not actually doing something hard or depriving yourself. When you have that identity-based habits, the positive one, by choosing not to drink, you’re simply acting in alignment with the person you are. And there’s a reason that a lot of people fail in making the shifts they want liking quitting drinking. They try to rely on willpower either positive, what is your vision or negative, a fear-based motivation. And in the long term, leaning on willpower or motivation to reach your goals won’t help you create long term change. When you rely on motivation and willpower alone, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And you’re also going to blame yourself for not having enough discipline or follow through to reach your goal. And that’s not actually true.
So, in my experience, when I realized that drinking was an issue in my life, and I tried to drink less, or drink less often, or make rules or stop for a while, or all those things, I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get my shit together. I mean, I was a Dewar. I made plans and I executed them. I like to succeed with hard work. I was a gold star girl, like I got straight A’s, and I managed work and home and commutes, and daycares, and schedules. And I did all those things, while drinking a bottle of wine or more a night. But I couldn’t drink less, and I couldn’t drink less often. I could do it for a little while. I could do it for three days, four days. But I couldn’t do it longer term. And I wondered why I couldn’t control my drinking. Like I controlled almost everything else in my life. It took me a long time to understand that I was making it so much harder on myself than it needed to be. I was going about it all wrong. I was setting myself up to fail for a whole bunch of reasons. But under all those reasons, I was not applying the principles of behavior change in this one area of my life where I was applying them in all the other areas.
Now, I’m not trying to say that drinking isn’t addictive. Drinking is absolutely an addictive drug that is literally designed to physically make you consume more of it. And more often. There are very physical reasons why we want to drink in the first days after we drink last. And Amy Grace explains it really well in her book This Naked Mind when she writes the drug, alcohol creates the low, and then deceives its victims into believing that by ending the low, it is providing a high in this state of mind. And she writes that it’s the physical withdrawal that makes it, so we’re happier when we take a drink, not because drinking makes us happy, but because the drink relieves the withdrawal that the drinking cost. So yes, hangovers can last up to 72 hours after drinking. And I’m not telling you anything you haven’t experienced yourself, that the symptoms are fatigue, and weakness, and headaches and muscle aches and nausea, shakiness, and terrible sleep, and all those things. So, there’s a reason that you want to drink. When you’re coming off a hangover, right, you’re coming into a low and only the substance brings you back to feeling normal again. But once that is over, breaking, the habit of drinking is also made easier or more difficult based on your social and physical environment. Breaking the habit of drinking is made easier or more difficult, by your mindset, by the identity you adopt, and what you believe to be true about yourself. So, alcohol is an addictive drug. But drinking it is also a habit. It’s a habit reinforced by society, by the messages that we hear by our physical environment and the social environment we live in interactive.
For me, drinking was both a habit and a maladaptive coping strategy. I was drinking a bottle plus a night. And it was in my mind, making me feel good. It was making me feel good for about two to three hours a day, even though it was making the other 21 or 22 hours of my life force. And drinking is encouraged by society at every term. We have been socially conditioned to believe that drinking alcohol is a privilege of adulthood, a sign of sophistication and empowerment, a metaphorical shorthand for a good time, and a means to get through motherhood. In the stresses work.
We’re taught that drinks will make us closer to our friends and our partners, that it will make anything a better time that will let us relax or transition from work to home, or from kid time to adult time. Alcohol is included at literally every social gathering around us, from dinners to barbecue, to sports games, to brunches, to dinners out seriously. lunches, holidays, date nights, work events, you name it. And it’s prescribed to us by girlfriends and work colleagues, and every place in our life. So, it is no wonder that we drink and then we inevitably begin to rely on alcohol to drink not only when we’re at that social occasion, but also when we’re home. Because that being home with the kids after her day doing the dishes, we want that to be fun, too. We want to relax after work, or after bedtime or to make TV more interesting. So, my habit of drinking was impacting my physical health. I was waking up in the middle of the night, my eyes were bloodshot, I was dehydrated. My head was pounding my stomach was queasy. I was overwhelmed by my life. But in addition to the physical health, we can think about drinking and getting out of the drinking cycle through the lens and the science of behavior change and habit change and what works and what doesn’t. Because my drinking, the opening a bottle of wine each night when I walked in the door from work, the pouring of the wine into a fancy class and drinking while I was making dinner and eating with my family. That was a habit, the reaching for wine when I was overwhelmed, and I wanted to turn off a busy mind or make a situation more fun. That was a habit. The picking up wine at the grocery store each week as necessary to me on my list as bread and milk and coffee that was a habit or the need to order wine at every dinner at a restaurant or every happy hour with coworkers. That was a habit.
So, there is a framework and a science of how to build good habits and how to break bad ones. And it is not based on willpower. It’s applying the Four Laws of behavior change to change your habit or drinking. There are easy ways and hard ways to break a habit. And I for one had tried all the hard ways and I had failed. So, what I needed and what made me succeed was to make the habit of not drinking easy or whole lot easier. There are a whole lot of reasons that it’s easy to fall into the habit of drinking. And even more reasons that once you drink, you’re drawn back to drink more and more often, there are physical and mental and social reasons. But beyond the physical withdraw, your habits are formed by cues, cravings, responses, and rewards. And those are subjects that I’m going to dig into really deeply in my next podcast episode, the one that’s coming next week. But at a higher level, your habits are influenced by your physical environment, your social environment, and the identity and beliefs you’ve internalized about yourself. That’s what we’re going to talk about today, we’re going to talk about who you believe you are, and the limiting beliefs and fears you have about what your life will look like and feel like without drinking, what other people will say or think of you, and a whole lot of other shit about being loved and liked and respected and included. And all that stuff that is keeping us stuck in a bad habit that is hurting us mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, we’re going to cover so much in this episode. And Atomic Habits by James Clear, is one of the most useful and practical guides on how to change your habits. I’m going to link to it in the show notes of this episode, if you want to buy it or listen to it, because I know I have many times.
But the most important thing, I think, in that book that you can do to apply to changing the habit of drinking, is the concept of identity-based habits. The central idea here is that every action you take is like a vote for the type of person you want to become. So, we all have a collection of identities, right? You might be a mom and a director or a teacher and a sister, you’re the wife of this person, or in the social circle, this group or an alumni of this school, a member of your kids PTA, or maybe your identity is that you’re not a member of any fucking PTA. But you’ve got all these things that are aspects of your identity that you hold, we are not also just the labels that we have. We are also the beliefs that are part of our identity. And sometimes those things build up, right. So, you can think I’m the type of person who finishes what I set out to do. That’s a belief that’s part of your identity. Or I’m the type of person who doesn’t miss workouts. I’m the type of person who plans all of the social events or having the type of person who meets all my responsibilities. But these beliefs that are part of our identity can also hold us back. Like you tell yourself, I’m terrible at remembering people’s names. Or I’m bad with directions, or I have a sweet tooth. And we don’t often think about that intro narrative, those stories as being a part of our identity. But the more we repeat things, the more they start to take hold and grip into who we are and how we act. That’s what shapes our behavior.
Behavior and beliefs are like a two-way street. And the things that you believe can influence the way you act. And the way you act can influence the things you believe. So, the core argument that James Clear makes an Atomic Habit is that true behavior change is actually identity change. Because once you start to see yourself as a new type of person, then your behavior just follows that you don’t even have to force yourself to do it as much. And you’ll actually hear people say this all the time, when they go through habit transformations. They’ll say things like, Yeah, I don’t know, it was hurting beginning. Like if they started a fitness practice, or if they started playing guitar. But now I can’t even imagine not doing it. It’s just part of who I am. I don’t really motivate myself to meditate. I’m just a meditator. And so, once people start to assign those labels, I’m a meditator. I’m a writer, I’m a runner, then it becomes so much easier to stick with. You’re not even really pursuing behavior change anymore. You’re just acting in alignment with the type of person who already see yourself to be and what works is when that is a positive identity. Right? When you see yourself as the person you want to be doing the things that, that are part of that, just becomes second nature. I love that part so much. I want to say it again. You will be just acting in alignment with the type of person you already see yourself to be.
So here’s how I apply that to not drinking, and turning, not drinking from my absolute worst case scenario, like, Oh my god, I have to drink less, or get a handle on this, so that I never have to stop drinking, too now, where I am today, where my identity is, I’m a person who quit drinking, I don’t drink anymore, I am super proud of that. I’m proud of myself. So, because that’s my identity, when I don’t drink, I’m just acting in alignment with the type of person I already see myself to be. Now, that does not happen all at once. And we’re going to talk about how the easiest way to create an identity-based habit is to start with small behavior changes, because everything that you do is actually casting votes, that you are, in fact, the type of person that you want to be. So, you’re building up evidence that that identity is true. So, you can believe it. As James says, behavior and beliefs are two-way street. The things that you believe can influence the way you act. And the way you act can influence the things you believe. But he argues that the more valuable and the easier way. And again, I’m all about easy, because I have tried the hard is to let your behaviors drive your beliefs. So, the opposite would be the idea of fake it ‘till you make it, right? you’re letting your beliefs by your behavior. And if you just believe something new about yourself, you will act a different way. And that’s a great short-term strategy. But it’s not a great long term one. Because if you keep telling yourself something like, I’m a healthy person, but you’re not going to the gym, and you’re drinking a ton and you’re eating like crap, it might motivate you on a single day. But in the long run, there’s this gap between how you’re acting and what you’re saying to yourself. And you have this cognitive dissonance like you don’t believe it to be true. You don’t have evidence of it. So, then you’re like, fuck it. This isn’t working, I’m giving up, I keep saying I’m a healthy person. And yet I keep doing this shit. So, I’m going away.
But if you go in the opposite direction, and let’s say you do one pushup a day, or the equivalent, and you let your behaviors drive your beliefs, you say, Well, no, doing one pushup isn’t going to radically transform my body. But it does cast a vote for being the kind of person who doesn’t miss workouts, or no, writing one sentence doesn’t finish the novel I want to write. But it does cast a vote for the identity that I am a writer. And this is why the Atomic Habits, James goes deep into the idea that the real goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner. The goal is not to write a book, the goal is to become a writer. And once you start to assign those deeper identities to yourself, it becomes much easier to stick with a habit in the long run. And the real reason that habits matter is they cast a vote for being the type of person you want to be. They reinforced your desired identity. And they ultimately offer maybe the best path we have to building up evidence and believing in a new aspect of yourself.
So, let’s translate that into not drinking. So maybe the identity you want is to be a healthy, happy, confident person who doesn’t need to drink, have a good time or to cope with life. So, with this identity, you look great, you feel great, you’re proud of yourself. You have the energy and the drive and the optimism to do exciting things. You are no longer the person who drinks too much and doesn’t remember things who doesn’t have an off switch, or who wakes up feeling like shit, you are not that person. The identity you want is also to not be a person walking around feeling like you’re in purgatory for the rest of your life. For not drinking or feeling like you’re constantly wanting to drink or missing out on not drinking. You’re not trying not to drink, “you’re not thinking”, “I really should not drink” or I should be good and not drink or I can’t drink. No. The identity-based habit you want to build is this. You are healthy, happy, confident person who doesn’t need to drink to have a good time or to cope with life. Or you are just a healthy, happy, confident person who no longer drinks.
So, a central strategy and atomic habits is the concept of how habits actually link up with your identity. And the way I would describe this is any habit you perform is how you embody a particular identity. So, every morning you wake up and you make your bed, you embody the identity of someone who is clean and organized. Anytime you write one sentence, you embody the identity of someone who’s a writer. So, when you do things, like you’re doing right now, you are listening to this podcast on how to drink less and live more, you are embodying the identity the actions of a happy, healthy, confident person who doesn’t drink. When you take a bath in the evenings, instead of drinking a glass or a bottle of wine. When you go for hike on Saturday morning, instead of drinking too much on Friday night, you in that moment, are embodying the identity of someone who doesn’t drink when you buy all the awesome nonalcoholic drinks at the store. And when you bring your ginger beer or your Lacroix to a barbecue, or you buy groobie, nonalcoholic Prosecco to go to a party. In that moment, you are embodying the identity of someone who doesn’t drink. And every morning you wake up without a hangover, or you go to sleep with a clear mind, you are embodying the identity of someone who is a healthy, happy, confident person who doesn’t drink. Now I get it right, you’re thinking, yeah, when I do the smaller things, when I go to the grocery store, and I don’t walk down the wine aisle, or the alcohol section, or you don’t buy alcohol, and you buy sober treats instead. Or when you log into a non-drinking private Facebook group, or tell people you’re taking a break from alcohol. Those things, in and of themselves, do not make you a nondrinker. I get it. That is true. But they do, they do cast a vote that you are putting out there for you being a person who doesn’t drink. And it does provide evidence that at least in that moment, you are a healthy, happy person who doesn’t drink.
So, every time you reach for a tool, or a connection that helps support you in changing your habit of drinking, you are embodying the identity of someone who doesn’t drink the identity of someone who is healthy, and happy. The identity of someone who doesn’t check out of their life without call the identity of someone who is taking care of themselves and is getting them stuck. And it’s super important that you give yourself credit for the work you’re doing for all the boats you are casting for your new identity. Because they matter, you need to celebrate the small wins.
And I suggest to my clients that they write them down to make them concrete. I encourage you to take a few notes each day, on all the awesome things you did, the habits you performed, that are helping to build you up. Because you’re making a million small choices every day, that will positively or negatively impact your habits. They’ll impact your identity and the impact your trajectory. I mean, one of my clients told me she has a friend who always inspires her, because her friend is doing amazing things. And she wants to also be the kind of person who gets up and goes and makes the most of life. And we talked about how she should put down a few notes every day about how she actually already is that person. So, for example, when she got up with her alarm, and she felt good, when she took a walk in the morning, when she chose not to numb out with wine at night. That’s all evidence that she already is the person she wants to be. And it builds up over time. So often when we’re drinking, there’s a disconnect between who you want to be and who you are in your daily action. And you’re creating an identity based on the habits you’re building. So, if your identity-based habit is, I’m a healthy person with healthy habits, or I’m strong, confident and happy. Or I’m a person who shows up as my best self. I’m a person who gets up and goes, I’m a person who makes the most out of life. I’m a person who’s moving towards my dreams. I take advantage of every opportunity.
Whatever it is, if you’re like me, not drinking is the foundation on which all of those identities are built. Because by drinking, I am not showing up as my best self. Either when I’m drinking, thinking of drinking or recovering from drinking. When I drink, I’m not moving towards my vision or my training, because I’m tired and I’m talking crap to myself and I’m just barely getting through the day. So whatever kind of person you want to be, adopt that identity. And every time you make a choice not to drink, or to cope or have fun or relax or choose an activity that’s very different than numbing out on the couch with wine, you are casting a vote that you actually are that person. You are totally connecting to the idea of living life, like the person you want to be. So, you’re not faking it until you make it because you’re taking actions in alignment with that identity.
And you can ask yourself prompts to. So, for example, with food choices, you can ask yourself, what would a healthy person do right now? We’re if you’re trying to solve a problem, what would a smart person do right now? What would a kind person do right now? What would a forgiving person do right now? So, put it out there? Like, what would someone who’s healthy and happy but not drinking? do right now, faced with this social engagement, this boring evening, this crying child? What would that person do?
In the Atomic Habits by James Clear, he talks about the idea that if you study biology on Tuesday nights for 20 minutes, you are embodying the identity of someone who is studious. And so, think about every action you take, as a vote for the type of person you want to become. And the more you take those actions, the more that you perform those habits, even if they’re quite small, and seemingly insignificant on a daily basis. Those are more votes you’re casting per being that kind of person. And early on, if you do it the first day of the first week or the first month. No, it might not be enough to shift your self image. But that body of evidence builds up. And as more votes are tossed into the pile, each time you perform that small habit, eventually, you have to turn around and kind of admit to yourself, yeah, this is part of my identity. So when I decided that drinking was dragging me down, and keeping me stuck, and tired and anxious, and overweight and unhappy, and all the things, the way I started in recovery, was with a mindset shift, which was telling myself, I am a healthy person with healthy habits, and then looking for evidence of that mindset shift in all areas of my life.
So, I signed up for a 5:30 a.m. workout group. It was an 8-week session. And in the beginning, we ran a timed mile, and I was 4 days sober. And I remember running those 4 loops around this building. There were like 12 of us, I was second to last I was slow, I was out of shape. It was dark. It was February. And I envisioned myself in 8 weeks. And I said to myself, I am running, I’m going to do this. And I haven’t had a drink in 4 days. And in 8 weeks, I will be a person who hasn’t had a drink in two months in four days. And I kept going back to that class. And every time I got up at 5:30, and I went to the class, it was evidence that I was a healthy, happy person who didn’t drink. I signed up for a 10 K. And I met up with the women at 7:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night. And then 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. And again, they were all faster than me. But when I showed up there, I was in my running clothes. And I stood with them. And I stretched my quads and did all the things. And I put on my headphones and I turned on my music and I high five, the coach when I finished my run, even if everybody else did it first. And I, in that moment, I was being a healthy happy person who didn’t drink who had healthy habits. Now, I quit drinking on February 18 in 2016. And on April 24, I only remember the day because it was actually my son’s birthday. I got up early by myself. And I drove to the 10 K and I ran it by myself very, very slowly. And when I finished, I felt great. And I drove to the bakery and I picked up my son’s 8th birthday cake and I went home. And the whole time I was running, I was slow and tired and really wanted to quit. But I said to myself, I am now a person who does what I say I’m going to do. And the emotion was so strong, I was almost crying. And that identity of I’m a person who does what I say I’m going to do. That was something I never did when I was drinking. Right? I would always make promises to myself and then back out and the identity that I was building and creating for the previous 2 months by getting up and working out by signing up for running club and actually showing up by signing up for the race and actually going and most importantly in the previous 65 days, not drinking every night, I actually was the person who actually said, and did what I said I was going to do. So, every action I did in the previous 65 days was a vote, I was casting for my new identity. And the reason I was almost in tears when I was running and saying to myself, now I’m a person who does, what I’m going to say I’m going to do was because I believed it, it meant so much to me.
And think about this, in the opposite, right? We do this all the time, in the negative in the reverse without thinking too much about it. So, I don’t love to cook, I do it. I’m a mom. Okay, I do it. But I try to keep it super simple, like fajitas and chilies and tacos, and you know, whatever. I would rather have dinner over quickly with unleaded dishes than I would to enjoy, to create elaborate meals for me, like, cooking dinner for the fam is like a task to be done. It’s like doing the laundry, right? You just got to do it. And my identity is not someone who loves to cook. And I’ve built up a lot of evidence around this, right? If you think about it, I cast a lot of votes with my actions that reinforced for me, the identity that I’m not a person who loves to cook. So, when I get invited to parties, or potlucks or someone has a baby, I literally say to them, I’m not big on cooking. So, I’m going to buy a pie or scones or a yummy premade lasagna and bring it to you. That is me casting votes for my identity. As someone who doesn’t love to cook. My identity is also not someone who bakes birthday cakes, it is not my jam. So, I don’t do it. When I, every time I pick up a birthday cake in a bakery. It’s again a vote for me not being a homemade cake bacon mom. I’m also not a crafty Mom, I’m not a Let’s die Easter eggs, Mom, I do hide them. I enjoy that. I’m not a decorate for Halloween mom, or make a kid’s costume Mom, I do buy awesome costumes on Amazon. And I like following the kids around when they’re trick and treating. But I may decide at some point to change those identities. But I am totally okay with those identities right now. But the point is that every day I do things like going out to buy food to bring to someone or offering to pick something up rather than making it homemade. That’s a vote that I’m casting that is reinforcing the identity I’ve adopted. So, I believe it right.
So, by going to running club by wearing the spandex and the running shoes and the gloves in March, that was a vote for myself as a healthy person with healthy habits, going to bed early so I could wake up at 5:30 to work out was a vote for me being someone who exercises and running that 10 K however slow was a vote for me being someone who does what she says she’s going to do. So, here’s what I want to tell you by buying nonalcoholic beer or by buying Lacroix by texting friends who might be coming over to your home and saying, Hey, I’m not drinking right now. So, I don’t have wine or beer here. But I’ll have tons of Lacroix and ginger beer and sparkling water. If you want wine or beer, BYOB, those actions are a vote that you’re casting for the identity of healthy person with healthy habits, who doesn’t drink. And here’s the point. With that evidence, your identity begins to shift the point of this way to long story, because I’m sure that you really don’t care that I don’t love to cook or decorate for Halloween or that I joined a running club is the same principles, they can be applied to casting a vote for your identity as someone who doesn’t drink or reinforcing what we tell ourselves in reverse. So, I used to tell myself, I’m someone who loves to drink, I’m a red wine girl, I have no off switch, I just drink a lot. That’s who I am. You are reinforcing that identity with your thoughts and the actions you take. So, you can make this principle for behavior change work for you. And the healthy happy life you want to build, or you can make it work against you.
So, after the concept of identity-based habits, the next thing that’s critical in making quitting drinking easy or easier, is to take a look at your social environment. And that means the people and the messages and the media that you surround yourself with, as well as your environment. And I want to talk about both of those next, because it’s one thing to get started with a habit. But something that a lot of people struggle with is continuing with the habit after the initial surge of motivation and willpower are depleted. And we all see this both with her attempt to stop drinking. And sometimes with workout routines and diets, you get about three weeks in and you say, screw it, right? The second part, which is how do I stick with the habit? How do I maintain consistency? I mentioned in the beginning of this episode that a lot of us beat ourselves up about not having enough willpower, or determination or follow through, or think that we’re weaker in discipline. And that’s because we’re trying to rely on willpower and motivation alone, we’re basically setting ourselves up for failure. Because according to all the research on habits and behavior change, willpower might be able to overpower your environment for a day or a week or an hour, maybe a month, maybe. But in the long run, your environment almost always wins that battle. And I want to say that, again, willpower can overpower your environment, sometimes for a few days, or a few weeks. But in the long run, our environment almost always wins the battle. And one of the biggest elements of that is not only our physical environment, right, the drinks in your fridge, the lack of alcohol in your shopping cart, the visual reminders on your bulletin board. And by the way, I’m a huge fan of bulletin boards, and I’m going to have a podcast on them and why they matter in that how they can help you put in a couple weeks to get ready for the new year.
But environment is important. But also, your social environment is super important. And the truth is that as humans, we all have a deep desire to belong, to be loved, and supported and praised. And usually we’re praised and supported and loved for habits that go with the grain of the people we surround ourselves with. So, all of us belong to multiple groups, right? Some of them are large, like what it means to be an American or from your state or from your town, what it means to be in your family. And what it means for you to be a mom or to not be a mom or to work at your company, or to work in your field, your profession. Some of them are small, like what it means to be a neighbor on your street, or a member of your local workout group, or a volunteer at your elementary school, an alumni of your school, a member of your book club, a member of your social circle, right? Those areas are all groups we belong to. And again, we’re usually praised and supported and loved, for the habits that go with the grain of the group, we’re a part of. And all of those groups have a set of social norms, like a set of shared expectations for how you act in that environment. So, when your behavior goes with the grain of those expectations, those habits are really attractive, because they’re a signal to other people, like, Hey, guys, I fit in. And when you go against the grain of social expectations, they’re really unattractive to form. And I’m saying this, because most of us surround ourselves with drinkers, right? We’re drinkers, it is very possible that our spouse or our friends or family are also big drinkers. So, you’ve got to have a lot of courage to branch out and worry about being ostracized or sticking out from the group to adopt a habit that goes against the grain of social expectation. And you’re probably going to be able to do that once or twice. But if you’re running against the grain of the group all the time, it’s really hard to stick with that. And if you’re like most people, you have two choices, right? You choose, hey, I get to have the habits that I want to have. But I’m not a part of this group. Or I can have the kind of habits that I don’t really want to have the ones that pull you down and make you anxious and depressed and gain weight and feel poorly about yourself. But at least I get to belong and fit in. It’s super sad. But most people would rather be wrong with the crowd than right by themselves. And most people choose belonging over loneliness. So, when we talk about social environment, versus willpower, or motivation, the truth is that the desire to belong often overpowers the desire to improve. And this is a struggle for a lot of women I work with, who know drinking isn’t working for them, but their spouse drinks and misses their drinking buddy or their friends all drink and keep telling them that they’re overreacting. They don’t have a problem. They should just stop being so hard on themselves. And these people suddenly sabotage them and give them negative feedback for being a healthier human being, is trying to improve themselves. And because although they love alcohol, it makes them feel like shit over and over again. So, here’s the punch line. If you want good habits to stick, you need to find a group that has similar goals values. Now, this does not mean that you can’t be a part of or still have fun with or still hang out with your husband, and your friends and your family. But here’s what it does mean, you need to find and join a group where your desired behavior, for example, not drinking is the normal behavior, because it’s normal in that group. And then it’s going to be very attractive for you to stick with that habit and maintain consistency over time. And you see this all the time with random examples, right?
Like, somebody joins a CrossFit gym. And then all of a sudden, they’re like talking about Paleo Meal Plans and all other kinds of stuff, right. And they actually pick up these other habits and behaviors. Because they’re in a group where this type of behavior is normal, people are doing it, they’re talking about it, they’re like, Oh, I want to try that. That was awesome. We soak up the other habits of the groups that we’re in. So, we all have multiple groups we’re part of right now. It is important when you are trying to change a habit, because willpower and motivation will only last so long. When they come up against social and environmental friction. You need to think carefully about the group that you’re in, the people that you’re surrounding yourself with, and the media you’re consuming. So that if their habits are what you want, if their lifestyle, their health, their optimism, their motivation is what you want, their normal habits can become your normal habits, right? It’s hard when you’re trying to make something standard and reliable in your life. But everybody around you doesn’t have that same goal. And again, this does not mean that you need to abandon your spouse or your friends, right? My husband still drinks, most of my friends still drink, my family drink. But it does mean that you need to edit consciously the inputs and influences in your life. So, you’re also surrounded by messages and exposed to ideas and positive reinforcement that let you soak up the habits and the mindsets. That will make you the healthy, happy, positive person you want to be. So, say all your friends drink and say your strengths and your family. You can absorb and surround yourself with messages that make your habits easier to stick with, through books, through online groups, through workout groups.
I wanted to up level my mindset. So, I actually love Jen Sincero, she wrote all the You Are A Badass book. And I listened to her books on audio. When I was driving around when I was going for walks. I just was like, Yeah, I want to have more courage, I want to be a badass, I want to say I’m going to do things and actually do things in my life. And by listening to her, I had her voice in my head, right? It’s about also unfollowing social media that are big drinking triggers and friends, right? Do you know this is insane? There are 5 million people. 5 million who follow the Facebook group Mommy needs vodka. Okay, I am in no way suggesting you should go join this group. But seen posts from groups like these are from your favorite winery that you’re a member with, or from your friend who constantly is posting drinks, really can make it almost impossible to stick with the habits and positive change that you want. Those are the type of things that will undermine your willpower and your motivation. So, you might find yourself facing quite a bit of social friction to get your habit to stick. And that’s something I also talk about with my clients when they’re quitting drinking. It’s funny, but the people you would expect to be the most supportive of you making changes, to make yourself healthier and happier and have a better quality of life are often the people who push back the most. And that’s surprising. I’m thinking of your spouse, your best friends, your families. And it’s interesting, but a lot of times you can’t opt out of the social group that you’re closest to right. You’re married to them. You’re related to them; you’re parenting them, and you love them. Right. But you can add to your social groups. So, having those spaces, whether it’s, you know, a yoga Studio, an online community, a digital space, having a sacred space where your desired behavior is normal, whether it’s in screen or in person, that’s crucial, right? You need a tribe that gives you lots of signals and feedbacks and saying, hey, you’re on the right track, you’re not crazy for doing this, or you’re not crazy. For thinking this way, you are a rock star, you are awesome. Try this, try that, keep going. It’s so valuable to help you keep supporting your goals and continuing all human beings like feeling praised and rewarded. And whatever actions we take that feel good, are followed by feelings of positivity and pleasure, enjoyment. Those are the behaviors we’re more likely to repeat in the future.
So, I often and I’ll put in the show notes of this episode, I have a guide to my favorite private free Facebook groups for women quitting drinking, one is called the Booze Free Brigade (BFB). And one is called She Recovers Together, there are a lot of other ones I love as well. But I like to start with two, there is a guide to finding them and joining them, I’ll put in the show notes of this episode. But as part of exploring habit change, it’s so important to look at adding to your social environment and the messages you consume. We’re not drinking, the habit you want to reinforce, is celebrated and positive and not undermined. So if you have a partner who drinks or a family that pressures you to drink, or friends that discourage you, from making healthy changes to eliminate all call, the other thing you do need to do is to not only have to your social influences, and minimize the ones that undermine your habits that you can, but also talk to your partner and your friends about what you’re doing and what you need from them. Now, those people do not have to stop drinking, right? They just don’t. And often, it’s almost impossible to ask them to stop drinking, or you don’t want to anyway. But I think about not drinking and communicating that. Like if you were to decide to become a vegetarian or run a marathon. So, if they are big drinkers, it’s important, especially for the people you live with, to have a conversation and communicating something like, Hey, I’m not expecting you to do this with me. But I want you to know that making this change is going to require some effort for me. And I’m not asking you necessarily to change to, but I am asking you not to sabotage me, like, do your best to support me, or try to create a space where I can do this, you can ask the people you love and your friends and the people you work with, to not add friction to the change you’re trying to make because it’s hard enough on your own. And you can be specific about what you need, because they won’t know.
So, for me, my husband would often be at the grocery store and just buy me wine. Because he knew I liked it. He thought he was being sweet. In the same way that I think I mean, sweet when I bring him coffee in bed in the morning. So, I needed to tell him not to do that. So I needed to tell him, Hey, babe, I’m trying not to drink or I’m not drinking for 100 days, I need you to please not buy me wine when you’re at the store. I had to tell him that I needed not to have wine in the house that we needed to gift or giveaway or get rid of the bottles we had. Because if you have wine in your house, it will be harder for you not to drink. I tell clients to get specific with their partners like to tell them that, you know, what you could do for me is cook dinner in the early days, or let you go for a walk or run in class in the evening to change have routines to get away from triggers, or to be able to leave the house on a Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours. Right. To change up routines that are triggers you to drink. You may need to tell your spouse like to say, Hey, I’m making this really healthy change for myself. So, I need your support. You don’t have to not drink with me. But I would love it if we could have no one in the house. If I could go to bed early so I can get up early. If you could deal with the kids in the evening so that you are not aggravated and annoyed or just be okay with you turning down social events for a while or not hosting people over. So, having an open conversation can be super helpful to just get everybody on the same page. Like hey, this is important to me. And I want you to know that too. And if you could support me, that’s great.
That’s social environment. We talked about identity change, social environment. And the last piece I want to talk about right now is environmental design. So, redesigning the way your environmental spaces are laid out, changes the amount of motivation, you need to perform a habit. So, for any example, so people feel like they watch too much TV, but you walk into any living room in America, and where do all the couches and chairs face when they face TV, like, almost always, they face the television, right? So, when you go into a room, the lowest friction, the easiest and simple and most obvious behavior and environment is what you’re going to do. So a change, you could put a TV behind a wall unit in a cabinet where you’re less likely to see it, you could take the remote control and put it in a drawer and a book in its place, you could take a chair away from the TV and have it face a coffee table, you know, there are a lot of things you can do. And in your home with drinking, one thing you can do is not have any alcohol in the house not have any wine in the wine rack. I mean, I always say that try not to drink, when your drink of choice is right there. And you know exactly where it is. And it’s available the whole time is like try not to eat sugar, and having a birthday cake that has a slice out of it sitting on the counter for a week, you are making it way too hard on yourself, right? If you see the wine, it is a cue that you will need willpower to avoid drinking every day, every evening of every week. If the winds not there, you don’t have to use that willpower. So, you know, you can set up the whole kitchen that way? How can I make the nonalcoholic drinks the most obvious, how can I make choosing tea or Lacroix or nonalcoholic beer, the past of least resistance? So instead of relying on motivation to drive you, what I want you to do is try to prime the environment. For convenience, you want to make a good habit, the past to the least resistance, the most obvious.
And we’re going to talk about all those cues and cravings and responses and rewards in the next episode. But as a preview for that, what we want to do is set up your social physical environment. So, it’s like you are in a river. And you’re just dropping your boat and letting the current take you along. Because all these things are pushing you in the right direction, right? You’re not growing upriver; the environment is pulling you in a certain direction that you just go along with. So, in the next episode, I’m going to dig into the four steps to break a bad habit or to create a new one, which is all about changing your cue your craving, your response and your reward cycle. But before I end this episode, I want to touch on two things. First, the central reason that habits really matter. And second, why small habits matter and add up over time. So, here’s the central reason that habits really matter so much. A lot of times people talk about how it’s mattering for external results, right habits can help you get ABS or lose weight or double your income. And yeah, it’s true, that habits are going to help you do all those things, right, if you have the willpower and the motivation to stay with it. But the reason habits matter is they can also shift the way you look at yourself. And that’s the real secret is that habits give you evidence of being a new kind of person. So, the value of doing one pushup, it won’t transform your body. But it does cast a vote for I am the kind of person who doesn’t miss a workout. And writing one sentence doesn’t finish a novel. But it does cast a vote for the idea that I am a writer. And the more votes you cast, you just can’t deny that at least in that moment, you were that kind of person, you weren’t that identity.
So, keep showing up in small ways and adding votes to the pile. And eventually your self image will change. The way you look at yourself will change. And ultimately, your true behavior change is driven by that identity change. Because once you’ve changed that narrative, the internal story, once you look at yourself in a new way, you’re not either really motivating yourself anymore to do that thing. You’re just acting in alignment with who you already see yourself to be. And once you’re there, it is so much easier to maintain that habit. And that’s the real value that habits provide.
The second reason that small habits matter is they let ime work for you. And I always say that this not drinking thing is actually a long game of compounding benefits. It’s sort of like your 401k curve, if you put in a few dollars in your savings account in your 20s, or 30s. And at first, it’s really small, really small. But over time that curve starts to go vertical, and all the compound interest builds up. So yes, in the beginning of my first 30 days, not drinking, I did not consume 40 bottles of wine that was big and hard and kind of shocking that I would have consumed that much wine. But those 30 days itself wasn’t going to transform my life, right? If I had gone back to drinking after 30 days, that would have been a blip in a health benefit. But over time, I just became proudly and happy because I kept going, a woman who used to drink a lot, and doesn’t drink anymore. And the compound interest of that is amazing. It’s amazing for my mental health, and my physical health and my productivity, and my pride and relationships and confidence. In the long game of compounding interest, I quit drinking at the age of 40. I’m 45 now, and I’m a woman who hasn’t had a drink in almost five years. And when I’m 50, I’ll be a woman who hasn’t had a drink in 10 years. And imagine how much healthier and happier and how much more I’ll do if I stay on that course, versus the diverging trajectory of who I would be if I was drinking a bottle of wine or more every night, seven nights a week, 365 nights a year for a decade, right? Those trajectories are night and day. So, imagine what your trajectory would be for your body and your mind in your career and your relationships. If you assumed the identity of being a person who didn’t drink, and then did the things daily, that are things that someone who didn’t drink did not in a punitive way, not know my life sucks way, in a way that’s like this is what a healthy and happy and confident person who doesn’t drink would do.
I would listen to the podcast, I would post on the groups, I would go for a run, I would join this group where alcohol is not a focus, I would bring my own drinks, to the barbecue, or whatever it is. And the beautiful thing about habits about shifting your habit from someone who opens a bottle of wine every night, to someone who opens a ginger beer or a Lacroix of shifting your habit of boozing on a Friday night to going on a bike ride on Saturday morning of shifting your identity from being a red wine girl like I was to being a woman who used to drink, but quit that shit because I feel better without it is that you let time work for you. It’s a long game of compounding benefits, or as James says an Atomic Habit.
Self-improvement is the compound interest of the things you do every day. And when you let time work for you. The thing is that your outcomes are the lagging measure of your habits. And this is something that James describes really well in the book. So, your physical fitness is a lagging measure of your eating and your training habits. Your bank account is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your reading and your learning habits. And so, in the long term, your habits often shape the big result you get. So, start small today, and you’ll get the big results you want in your life. But don’t try to rely just on motivation and willpower, right? Don’t try to shame or berate yourself into changing your habits on your own. Instead, envision the type of person you want to be and what she would do. And then start casting votes for that person you want to be with small acts and expand your social and your environmental influences to people who think that not drinking is a great idea. And we’ll cheer you on and encourage you on the path. And also refine your environmental cues right get rid of the wine on your counter. Talk to your friends about you know they don’t have to do this with you, but just try not to sabotage you as you do this. And going back to the core argument of James clear in atomic habits. True behavior change is identity change. Because once you see yourself as a new type of person, then you don’t fit have to force yourself to do the thing as much anymore.
You can just ask yourself, what would a happy, healthy person who doesn’t drink? What would they do in this situation? What would a happy healthy person who doesn’t drink? What would they do on a Friday night? Or on a Sunday morning? What would a healthy and happy person who doesn’t drink? How would they cope with this trigger? And you can think about up leveling or adding to your social environment, your social influences, you can look at the Environmental Design around you in your home, and just be honest about whether it’s making it harder or easier for you to succeed in your goals. Now, in next week’s episode, we’re going to talk about diving in to put this all into action on a deeper level, and looking at breaking a bad habit, and how to build a new healthy habit by changing your cues, your cravings, your response and your reward cycle. And if you haven’t read James Clears’ book, Atomic Habits, definitely grab it. It is a good one.
Thank you so much….
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.
ABOUT THE HELLO SOMEDAY PODCAST
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.
Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode.
I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the mix and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!
Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!