When does “not drinking” get easier?
Today we’re going to talk about “The Habits Tipping Point”, that magical moment when choosing not to drink simply becomes a part of who you are.
Welcome to Episode #3 in the Atomic Habits series on how to break your habit of drinking based on the research into what works in changing behavior for long term success.
In part one of Atomic Habits, Episode 34, we discussed how to quit drinking using identity based habits. We talked about how every action you take supporting your goal to be alcohol-free [like listening to this podcast] is casting a vote for your identity as a happy, healthy woman who doesn’t need to drink to have fun or cope with life.
In part two of Atomic Habits, Episode 35, we talked about how to break your habit of drinking in four steps by changing your cues, cravings, responses, and rewards habit loop.
And in today’s Episode, part three, we’re going to talk about the tipping point.
The point when your behavior changes and shifts into your identity.
There is a tipping point where by choosing not to drink you are simply acting IN ALIGNMENT with who you are.
- The struggle not to drink is gone.
- Your mind is not constantly thinking about drinking or not drinking.
- You’re someone who used to drink but don’t anymore, because you feel better without it.
In this episode we’ll dig into:
1) How to avoid the stumbling blocks that have tripped you up in the past and led you back to drinking.
The most common thing that trips women up in their efforts to stop drinking is fear of the unknown and our natural inclination to stay where things are familiar and comfortable.
I’ll help you break through this resistance to discover a new experience that is so much better than living in the drinking cycle.
2) What to do when you’re in the ‘plateau of latent potential,’ the time period when the work you’re doing builds until you hit the tipping point.
It’s easy to get impatient and frustrated when you hit 30 or 60 days without alcohol. It’s not as hard as it was in the beginning, but you still have moments when you want to drink and you wish that you were past that point.
But the work you’re doing in this middle piece, between no longer and not yet, is important.
You’re storing energy that’s building until you hit the tipping point. The point when not drinking is simply a part of who you are. You’re on your way to being a healthy, happy, confident nondrinker. You just haven’t reached the tipping point – yet.
I’ll share with you how to look at this time period in a way that validates the work you’re doing before you hit the identity shift, so you don’t get bored and frustrated and decide to drink again
3) Good habits make time your ally and bad habits make time your enemy.
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.
In the same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them across time.
At first you feel better and your progress is small and incremental. But as more time goes by those small improvements compound exponentially.
The positive or negative trajectory of your life is immense depending on which habits you keep or change.
When you change your habit of drinking, you’ll have a bunch of immediate benefits.
You’ll have more energy and sleep well. You’ll look better and have more patience.
And you will also change the trajectory of your life. From one that’s declining slowly and then more steeply, to one that’s improving slowly and then improving exponentially over time.
Impressive results are the natural outcome of many small improvements accumulating over time.
Are You Ready To Stop Drinking?
I invite you to take a look at my new on-demand course, The Sobriety Starter Kit.
The Sobriety Starter Kit is the online, self-study sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol.
The course is based on the sober coaching work I do with my private clients and is available at a cost that’s significantly more affordable than one-on-one coaching.
Plus the online Sobriety Starter Kit course is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it.
In the Sobriety Starter Kit you’ll learn the framework, plus all the skills + strategies you need to stop drinking and build a life you love without alcohol – without white-knuckling it or hating the process.
And I’ll hold your hand each step of the way.
Click here to get all the details.
Atomic Habits links and resources mentioned
Grab a copy of Atomic Habits by James Clear
Episode 34 – The first episode on using Atomic Habits to Quit Drinking with Identity Based Habits
Episode 35 – The second episode on using Atomic Habits to Quit Drinking on how to break your habit of drinking in four simple steps – without relying on willpower or hating the process.
You Are A Badass Books By Jen Sincero
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
The Habits Tipping Point – When Choosing Not To Drink Becomes Easy and Simply Part Of Who You Are
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SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson
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.
Hi there, I am hoping that you are going to love this episode, the third in the series of how to actually change your habit of drinking, by using the principles of research into what actually works and changing behavior. And not just for a week or for a month, but for the long term.
But this episode is also airing near the end of December. And I know we’re all looking to a New Year, and honestly, to the end of 2020, which has been really challenging and hoping for a fresh start. And I want to encourage you to get yourself a gift for this new year.
January is the perfect time to make some changes in your life, that likely have been on your mind for a while now. And I’ve got something that will help you. On the first of January, I’m launching a new course called, The Sobriety Starter Kit, you can go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com to find out all about it. The Course is a step by step formula of changing your relationship with alcohol, and helping you stop turning to drinking as a way to cope, relax, celebrate and decompress. In the course, I’m going to hold your hand as you move through the process of replacing the automatic response reaching for a drink each day to moving towards a new reward practice that actually meets your physical and your emotional needs and doesn’t leave you more drained more anxious and sick the next day. The Course is going to help you improve your life day by day, as you get further away from the drinking cycle. And sleep better, look better, feel healthier, with more energy, have more fun and less anxiety, more patience and calm and less irritation and frustration.
The Sobriety Starter Kit Course is not a 30-day challenge, or an alcohol experiment. It’s not a one day at a time approach. It’s a Coaching Course, where I teach you how to change the way you think about drinking, how to stop falling prey to all of those fears and limiting beliefs about what your life will look like and feel like without drinking and move past them. So, you can get to the good stuff to living a life where you’re not always thinking about drinking or recovering from drinking. The Sobriety Starter kit is a positive, empowering, practical and proactive way to change your relationship with alcohol. And because it’s an online course it’s available when you need it. And when you want it. It’s going to fit into your life and your schedule on your own terms. You don’t have to join a group at a specific time or go to meetings. So, if you’re interested in learning more about the sobriety starter kit online course, I invite you to go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. And if you have any questions about the program at all, just email me and I’ll get right back to you. You can find my contact information on my website. And hellosomedaycoaching.com under contact me. Alright, let’s get on 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 a 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.
Hi there. Welcome to the third podcast in the series about how to break your habit of drinking based on the research into what works in changing behavior for long term success without relying on willpower. So in Episode 34, the first in the series, we talked about how to stop drinking, using identity-based habits, and how every action you take in working towards your goal is like casting a vote, that you are in fact, the kind of person you want to be. We talked about how the actions you take every day to break out of the drinking cycle, or to take part in activities to meet your needs, where you are not using alcohol to do it, you were creating evidence 10 or more times a day, by going to the grocery store, and not picking up wine by reading a book about quitting drinking, by going to bed early, instead of drinking on the couch, all of it. That’s all evidence that is true, that in that moment, you were a healthy, happy person who doesn’t drink. And as you do that, more and more your identity will be, I’m a healthy person who doesn’t drink. And then by not drinking, you will just be acting in alignment with the person you already are.
In the second podcast in this series, which was Episode 35, we talked about how to break your habit of drinking in 4 steps by changing your cues, cravings, responses, and reward. And in this podcast, Episode Number 36, we’re going to talk about the tipping point, the point when your behavior changes, and shifts into your identity, when you were just a happy, healthy nondrinker, you’re someone who used to drink, but you quit that shit because you feel better without it. And at that tipping point, when it happens, then by choosing not to drink, you’re just acting in alignment with who you are.
The struggle to not drink is gone. Your mind is not constantly thinking about drinking or not drinking, you are just a person who doesn’t drink anymore, so you don’t drink. It’s when you casually say when someone asks you if they can get you a wine or beer, you say No thanks, Can I grab an X instead? Or I brought white instead to drink. I actually stopped drinking a few months ago. And it’s not hard. It’s just a fact, a fact about you that you’re actually pretty damn proud. If you do the work, we talked about in the earlier episodes on Atomic Habits. Sooner or later, this shift just happens for you, you hit the tipping point. And in this episode, I want to talk about 3 Concepts.
- What’s tripped you up in the past, which are a lot of fears, your fears about change, and our natural inclination to stay where things are familiar, where we’re comfortable, even if where we are and where we’re comfortable, feels kind of crappy. And the way you’re living is just okay.
- I want to talk about what James Clear in Atomic Habits calls the plateau of latent potential, the stored energy, the work you’re doing before you hit that tipping point, and how to look at it in a way that makes sense to you, and validates the work you’re doing before you hit the identity shift. So, you don’t get bored and frustrated and decide to just go back and start over before the tipping point hits.
- And the third thing I want to talk about is the fact that habits make time your ally. That’s why it’s so powerful. The benefits compound, the benefits of your daily habits compound exponentially over time, and that the results are incredible.
So, first, let’s talk about what’s tripped you up in the past, which likely are your conscious or your subconscious fears about change, and our natural inclination to stay where things are familiar where we’re comfortable, even if it’s kind of a crappy place to live.
In Episode 34, the first podcast in this series, we talked about how willpower doesn’t work to sustain the long-term changes you want. And what’s kind of crazy is that willpower and motivation aren’t enough to sustain change, even if you know all the things about why you should change, and you honestly believe that your life would be better without alcohol. And what trips us up is our fear of change. Let me give you an example that hopefully brings us to life. Tell me if this sounds familiar in terms of what usually happens when you’re trying to stop drinking, when you wake up for the umpteenth time and say that’s it enough. I can’t do this anymore. And you say I mean it this time. I’m determined. This is it. And in that moment, you are inspired, and you are determined to change. You want to change your life, your reality the way you’ve been living. But then, a little while later, you somehow inevitably slide back down into debating the change and deciding, and it’s really not worth it, or you really don’t want it, or the tradeoffs of what you think you’ll be giving up by not drinking is too much. Or you think I won’t succeed anyway, because I’ve tried before, and it hasn’t worked. So why the fuck would I go through that beginning sobriety period again, basically, your motivation isn’t enough. Because in a day, or a week or a month, you look up, and suddenly you’re back to your present reality, your physical surroundings, your schedule, your routines, you look around you in their cues everywhere to drink, your irritations, your triggers, and your willpower just gives out.
I love how Jensen Sarah, who writes Your Beta series, talks about how this happens. So let’s say something happens, you read something or you listen to something, or you really have a bad hangover, and you wake up and you are super motivated, to make changes, you are fired up to make a change, you’re hell bent, to do the things you need to do to make your life better. And then Jen says, all of your familiar excuses have shuffled back in and resumed their purchase, planting their heavy, defiant bodies squarely in the way of your hopes and your dreams. I love that image of their heavy defiant bodies, your excuses, resuming their purchase, on top of your hopes and your dreams. I can visualize that so clearly. So, the point is, the motivation fades, and willpower isn’t enough.
And you’re left facing a world where your desire to change is undermined, not only by all the things we’ve talked about before, your physical environment that’s designed to draw you back into your bad habits, your social environment, and the people you surround yourself with, who are for better or for worse, used to you being the way you’ve been, but also your own fears, the you that is uncomfortable with change. And you’re then left with your own resistance, and self-doubt about leaving behind the familiar, however imperfect, it might be. Because even in the crappy mornings and the fuzzy nights, you’re comfortable. In your current reality, Jen describes in her books, why we resist change. So, I’m going to paraphrase it here and add a few thoughts of my own.
- Human beings are scared shitless of change. Change is by definition different. It dismantles your known experience. So, it pulls on your sense of security, it opens up a void of possibility, which is scary, even though it could actually be and very likely is way more awesome than the current experience you’re clinging to. But change is unknown. And it threatens your reality, it makes you uncomfortable.
So, consciously or unconsciously, you take a few tentative steps towards change. And then all your excuses come back in again, getting in the weight of your hopes and dreams. So yeah, human beings are scared shitless of change.
- Human beings would often rather adapt to the lukewarm kind of crappy, fun, free, familiar, instead of risking the unknown. And unfortunately for most people, unless the familiar becomes so unbearable, that we can’t stand it. We’re unwilling to risk taking the leap into the unknown. That change would require, we have certain beliefs about ourselves that are really hard to change, because we’ve been clinging to them, both the good and the bad for years, we will claim to our identities, what we tell ourselves about ourselves about who we are, and what we’re capable of, even if we’re miserable, and parts of our identities are kind of shitty, and something we’re not that proud of.
Jen writes that even if we’d love to make a change, we subconsciously fear that if we stop believing our stories about who we are and what’s available to us, the foundations of our realities will disappear. Or in my experience, when women think about quitting drinking, we have these conscious or unconscious truly ridiculous shit beliefs that somehow stop us from making what rationally is a really held the change.
So, here’s some examples, you might have thought to yourself, if I stopped drinking, maybe my relationship with my husband or my partner won’t survive. Maybe he likes his drinking buddy, and he won’t like me sober. And by the way, when that fear and that excuse, perhaps up, you are 100%, ignoring the fact that you’re now falling asleep on the couch, or passing out every night, wrapped in your own bubble of drinking, worrying about your drinking and wicked hung over in the morning. So, you’re actually not that much fun about drinking buddy anymore. But forget that. That’s the fear that comes up, that subconsciously holds you back and sabotages you. You might think, if I stopped drinking, maybe I’ll lose all my friends. And we’ll never be able to go out to dinner again. And I won’t be invited to things. And we’ll be left alone. And I’ll never enjoy a vacation again. You might think if I stopped drinking, I won’t be able to network and connect with my colleagues. And I won’t be able to do my job. So, I won’t get promoted, and I won’t hit my sales goals. And I might not be able to sustain my income and pay for the things I need to. Or if I stopped drinking, I don’t know who I’ll be, I won’t be fun anymore. I’ll be boring. A fucking bore myself; I won’t be able to cope with stress. I’ll just live miserably in stress and boredom with no way to escape for the rest of my fucking life. People won’t like me, and I won’t even like myself. So yeah, right, you’re listening to that shit. And you’re looking at those thoughts, your self-talk, and objectively, like a person outside of yourself. They’d be like, that’s kind of fucking crazy, right? All you’re doing is getting rid of drinking a specific, unhealthy substance, and doing something else, like literally consuming a different beverage. And yet, suddenly, you’re not going to pay the mortgage, you’re not going to be able to do your job, you’re going to fuckin sit there, unable to cope with stress, living miserably in boredom with no way to escape, and nobody will like you. Okay, that’s crazy.
But it’s those thoughts. It’s that internal self-talk, that fear of change. That’s what keeps us stuck living in a just okay life, when we could be living a fucking awesome life. And that’s the beauty of creating habits that you stick with over time. When you change your cues, your cravings, your responses, your results, when you state your implementation, and you just keep going, because you’ve set out your physical and your social environment to support you, and not sabotage you, you’re getting lots of treats. So, it’s not that hard, you actually get to see that those fears are not true, you get to see that your husband, in fact is not going to leave you and still likes you. Even though, you don’t drink. That you can still date and have sex and have fun without consuming the exact same beverage.
When you’re out to dinner or sitting on the couch. It is possible, you get to see that you can relax and enjoy your children. Without your wine. After a long day, you literally are able to cope and play Candyland and help with high school homework without drinking.
I know it’s a fucking miracle, you get to see that Saturday nights don’t actually suck without drinking. And that Sunday mornings are amazing. With a full night arrest and a clear head and energy, you get to see that you’re actually healthier and happier, you look better, you feel better, you’re less anxious, you’re more confident without drinking. So, as Jen described those familiar fears and excuses, as you’re just going through the steps as you’re building the habits, as you’re building up your continuous days, your familiar fears and excuses aren’t able to shuffle back in and resume their purchase. They aren’t able to plant their heavy, defiant bodies in the way of your hopes and dreams. Because day by day, you’re seeing that those crazy thoughts aren’t actually true. You’ve been taking things step by step, right? You’re not imagining I couldn’t stop drinking, because I’m gonna fucking lose my job because I can’t network, right? You’re just going on, to day 4 and day 5 and day 12 and you’re sleeping through the night, and you’re going on a bike ride and you’re having a picnic and you’re getting ice cream, right? And as you do that, you have evidence that those fears are not true. Right? You’re not believing those crazy thoughts that you have in your mind, because the evidence just isn’t there. So that’s what’s tripped you up in the past. And it’s also what following the principles of What works, and behavior change can help you overcome.
Before I move on from this point, I wanted to share something that I love the Jensen Sarah wrote, she said, there are plenty of people out there in the world, living the kind of life that you only dream about living, many of whom are probably far less fabulous, and far less talented than you were. The key to their success is they decided to go for it. They stopped listening to their old tired excuses, they changed their lousy habits, and they got the fuck on the fuck.
Okay, I also really love Jen, I think mostly because she says fuck a lot, and so do I. So, don’t stay in the place you are, that place kind of sucks. It’s the place Jen describes as when you’re waffling back and forth, paralyzed by self-doubt and terror, finally eking out a decision that you’ll proceed to change over and over and over again. And if you think about that, that’s really where we are, when we’re thinking about drinking, and try not to drink than saying, fuck it and drink it again, right? You’re waffling back and forth, you’re paralyzed by self-doubt, you’re finally eking out a decision that you will proceed to change over and over and over again. Or you might be so afraid to make a decision, like not to drink, because you’re worried that you’ll miss out on another opportunity. So, you either choose to do nothing, or you try to do everything, which doesn’t work when you’re building a good habit, right?
You’re worried about missing out on all the social occasions. So, you’re afraid to make the decision not to drink or option to you try to not drink but also go to all the parties, right? That doesn’t work at first, because you need to change your cues, which leads to your cravings, which lead to your behavior, which is to drive. So, you basically decide to never decide, because you don’t want to make the wrong decision. And Jen says, deciding is freedom. Indecision is torture. And that’s where I have so much sympathy for who I was when I spent those years, knowing that my drinking is a problem. Thinking about not drinking, trying not to drink and then changing my mind and decided it wasn’t worth it. Right. Deciding is freedom, living in that place of trying to stop drinking and not stop drinking, that place of indecision. That is torture. And indecision is one of the most popular tricks of staying safe and staying in the boundaries and what’s familiar.
So, in her book, you are about as Jen talks about, the example of when she was deciding to quit smoking. And as you listen to the story, I hope you’ll see how it relates to us and the process that we often go through when we’re trying not to drink. So, Jen says that during that time, if she even toyed with thoughts like what harm will one itty bitty drag do, she was screwed. She said, your decisions must be watertight, because excuses will seep through any little cracks in your result. And before you know it, you’ll be on your ass. The whole point of deciding is to stop wasting time and move forward, not to spend time figuring out how you can wiggle out of the decision. And Jen said she thought about it this way. She thought, I’m not going to go home and negotiate about whether or not I’m going to smoke a cigarette. Just as I’m not going to go home and negotiate whether or not to snort some course tranquilizers. I don’t negotiate about snorting horse tranquilizers because I’m not a horse tranquilizer snorter. And by the way, that’s really fucking hard to say.
Okay, moving on. Now that I don’t smoke, I’m not going to negotiate about smoking because I don’t smoke. So, make the decision right now to change what you’ve been doing. Make the decision that you’re not going to drink for 100 days. Please don’t let your old fears and your old excuses shuffle back in after you’ve made the decision and resume their purchase and plant their heavy, defiant bodies squarely in the way of your hopes and dreams. Stop negotiating. Just follow the steps of how to build a good habit and how to break a bad habit, put forth your implementation intention, follow the plan.
And if you need a reminder or to review or to go through “how to do it”, go back to Episode 34 and Episode 35 where I walk through the specific steps to take to make the decision. Stop negotiating and just follow the plan. So, the second thing I want to talk about in this habit tipping point episode is with James Clear and Atomic Habits calls the plateau of latent potential. And there is a period of time, a longer period, where you are just doing the work. You’re just going through the day. You’re building your habits. If you’d listened to Episode 35, we talked about changing your cues and your cravings, your responses and your rewards, in really practical ways to break your habit of drinking and build the new habit of choosing other ways to enjoy life, cope, relax, turn off your mind, bond with your partner and your friends. And in that process, the building of your new habits, it shouldn’t be about white knuckling it, it shouldn’t feel like deprivation. In Episode 35, we talked a lot about so retreats, and finding new rewards that make you feel satisfied. a habit has to be enjoyable to be repeated. And so, part of the process is to replace your reward of drinking with new rewards. Ones that actually are self-care and bring you joy, and entertainment and relaxation. But that don’t leave you with a hangover or regret.
But it’s also true that it takes a while to reach the tipping point, the point where not drinking just becomes a part of who you are. And a lot of us want instant gratification. And I am 100% with you on that I am all about instant gratification. So, I want to talk to you about that to hopefully frame it for you in a different way. So, let’s say you’re at the point where you’re at the basic level, you broken the habit of drinking, you’ve reduced your cues to drink, which has reduced your cravings. You’ve set up a new system of attractive rewards like sober treats and being proud of the milestones you hit. And the progress you’ve made.
You were feeling better, you were focusing on how much more energy you have, and that you sleep better. And you’re less foggy brained and defensive and irritated. So that is all really great stuff. But past that initial stage, the other thing that trips up women I coach when they’re in early sobriety and say they’re 35 days along, or 42 days, or 64 that’s when some cue or challenge or trigger comes up. And suddenly they really want to drink or it’s really hard to not drink, and then they’re sad that they’re not going to drink. Now, every day isn’t a struggle for them, like it was in the first few days or the first three weeks. But when this stuff comes up, they’ll say to me, why am I not past this yet? It’s been two months, or it’s been three months or four months? When will this go away? Why aren’t I fixed? When is it that I won’t even think about drinking or want it or miss it anymore? Okay, and the first thing I do is I remind them that this isn’t happening daily, like it was happening in the beginning. They go home days and weeks without craving, drinking and feeling really good and happy without it. So of course, as you move through life, you’ll have a trigger. And you have been drinking as your go to habit and coping mechanism. For what, 10 years, 20 years. It’s natural that when something’s happened, you suddenly want to drink again, right? It’s your knee jerk reaction. But what I think helps make sense of this and reframe the way you think about the work you’re doing is the way James Clear writes about the concept of the plateau of latent potential. And I know that’s sort of a crazy term to use or concept, the plateau of latent potential, but I’m going to break it down for you. So, the metaphor the James uses in Atomic Habits to describe this, is to imagine that you walk into a room, and it’s really cold, like, say it’s 25 degrees, and you can see your breath, and there’s an ice cube sitting on the table, and you start to heat up the room. So slowly, it’s 26 degrees 27,28, the ice cube is still sitting there 29, 30, 31. And then all of a sudden, you get to 32 degrees. And it’s a one-degree shift, just like all the ones that came before it, but you hit this phase, this transition, and the ice cube begins to melt. That process of heating up an ice cube is often what it feels like to change your habits. You are accumulating 1% / one-degree improvement. And it takes a while to see that you are in fact achieving the new result.
And you hear this all the time from other people. People say I’ve been running for a month. Why can’t I see the change in my body yet? And the responses there that are any behavior you’re trying to change. The hallmark of any compounding process is that the greatest returns are delayed. So, if you’ve been drinking for 10 years or 20 years habitually, you’re not going to change that completely in 40 days or 60 days. rationally, you know that, of course, it takes more time changes happening, it’s easier every day, you’re feeling better. But all of that does not change at once. But that doesn’t mean that change isn’t happening. And it doesn’t mean that the work you’re putting in not drinking for 30 days, or 60 days, building new habits, rewiring your cue your craving your response, your reward, habit loop, up leveling your physical environment, expanding your universe of social support, that doesn’t mean all that work is wasted, or that the behavior change you’re doing isn’t working, some of that energy is just being stored. So, complaining about working on a habit or being frustrated, or allowing that to serve as an excuse or to draw you back into drinking is like complaining about the heating of the ice cube from 25 degrees to 31 degrees. And being like what the fuck, it’s not melting yet, all these degrees increases, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean that it was wasted, you just haven’t hit that threshold of latent potential. You’re building up energy, you’re building up potential energy that can then be released, once you’ve crossed whatever the threshold is, for that particular habit. So, I think this is one of the most challenging parts for people.
So, for example, say you haven’t had a drink in 30 days or 60 days, you’re doing all the hard work, and you’re not getting the positive reinforcement that you deserve for it. Your partner or your friends might even consciously or unconsciously sabotage or play down your efforts, they might say things like, you’re being too hard on yourself, you should let loose. Why don’t you just have a drink tonight, it’s really a personal journey. At that point, what you’re doing, you’re not getting praise from anyone. You see your days adding up, and you see yourself waking up with a hangover, and your faces less puffy, and you have more energy. But still, this thing you were hoping for whatever it was to not ever feel like you wish like you could drink again, or to not ever feel like you want to check out or numb out or to get more social acceptance and praise from others, that you’re not drinking and doing this really hard thing, and that you’re fucking awesome. You’re not receiving it yet. And what’s happening is the ice cube is taking a long time to melt. And that’s why it’s so important to connect with people who get it with the sober groups I recommend or with the program, because those people know, they know that your first two weeks and your first 30 days that you are doing incredibly hard work. And you deserve all the high fives for it. They know in a way that your partner and your friends and your family may not. They know that day five is huge, and that you deserve a damn parade on day eight, that 30 days, maybe longer than you have gone without a drink in a year or in five years, or since your kids were born. That is a big deal. And it can be like that for almost any process. And so, I think the idea of building up latent potential, the work not being wasted. But instead, being stored is something that can be really useful to keep in mind when you’re working on a habit.
And James talks about how that is true for almost any process in life. It’s not the final thing you did that actually made the difference. And that’s also why both when you think about the stored energy, the latent potential. And what I want to talk about now, the compounding benefit, that’s why you should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than your current position. And that helps you hold on when you inevitably have a boring moment or have a trigger or experiences stressful time. Right? That’s what’s going to help you keep going.
So, the third thing I want to talk about in this habit tipping point episode is that habits are the compounding interest of self-improvement. So, in the same way that money multiplies through compound interest. And when I think of this, I always think of that 401k chart they show you when they’re encouraging you to set up your 401k about how the line curves slowly and then it starts to go up and up and up. And when I think of this, I always think of that 401k chart they show you about how money compounds over time. They show you that line about how the line curves up slowly, slowly, slowly and then it goes up in almost vertical. That compounding interest concept is also relevant for the effects of your habits as they multiply. You repeat them across time. And a challenge is that at the beginning of any process, like on day one or day 10, the line goes up pretty slowly, like, don’t get me wrong, it is better. But it’s not suddenly like you’re a different person. But in terms of that compound interest, if you stop drinking three glasses of night, five days a week, or a bottle of night, seven days a week, like I did, if you stop that, versus keeping on the current track that you’re on, right drinking every night, or drinking a whole lot every few nights, over months, and over years, the difference in your positive or negative trajectory over one year, or three years or five years, that’s immense, you will end up in a completely different place, for better or worse. And I thought this a lot after I got out of super early sobriety. But when I was at like 60 days, or 100 days, I thought about what my life would be like, or what my son’s life would be, like, over 10 years, if I drank, or if I stopped drinking. So, when I quit drinking, my son, Hank was eight years old. And I imagined what his life would be like. Sorry, I’m gonna get emotional between the ages of eight and 18. If I drank every single night, the way I was drinking, right, if I drank a bottle of wine a night and or more, and I knew that the elevator only goes down, right, I knew that my drinking was not getting better. I wondered if by the time he was 16, or 17, or 18, if he even wants to bring his friends home at night, if I was there drinking the way I was for another eight years. And then I thought about what his life and what my life would be like, if I kept on not drinking. So, say I was 60 days in or 100 days in. I hadn’t drank a bottle of wine a night for 60 days. And I thought about that multiplying over the course of 10 years, I quit when I was 40. I was like, oh my fucking god, what could I be like at the age of 45? If I was a woman who hadn’t had a fucking drink in five years, what would I be like at age 50? If I hadn’t had a drink in 10 years, so a pretty sure that my relationship with Hank who I love more than anything, would be so much better. I would be present. He wouldn’t see me especially as he grew up, drinking, getting slurry passing out on the couch, he wouldn’t be afraid to come home me like shit if she drunk yet. I mean, I wasn’t there when I quit. But I could see myself getting there. Right? It would happen. And I thought about those 10 years, if I wasn’t drinking for him, and for me, we would be close. I would help him. I would be present with him.
It’s been almost five years. He is so proud of me for not drinking. He just is he like gave me with my husband, the most beautiful bass filled up with 1000 clear little stones for my 1000s day, they literally went to Target and counted out 1000 stones. So, he is proud of me. And I was like, when I’m 50, what will I be doing? Will I be like Margaret Ward, who I adore who came on my podcast and earlier episode, will I be like going to Iceland and running half marathons or going to Italy. Just in the past couple years, I’ve gone up to Salt Spring Island and done these amazing yoga retreats, I fucking quit my corporate job and started a Coaching business and started a podcast like the trajectory of my life that 401k curve.
Over time, those compounding benefits of who I would be if I kept drinking, versus who I am when I’m not drinking, that is huge. So, when you change your habit of drinking, not only do you get to not feel like crap every morning, not only do you get to have more energy and sleep better, and have your face look less bloated and remember things more easily. But you also you get to change the trajectory of your life from one that is declining slowly now, but likely much more steeply over time, to one that is improving slowly now and exponentially over time. impressive results are actually the natural outcome of many small improvements accumulating over time. And that is one of the reasons why habits are so significant, because if you can just build a slightly different habit, a slightly better habit. And then you can just let the benefits from that habit compound for you. Day in and day out. So good habit. Bit make time your ally. And bad habits make time your enemy with good habits, your life is going to be fucking amazing five years from now. And if you keep your bad habits, it’s probably not going anywhere amazing. And if you have good habits, all you need to do is sit back and let time work for you. You just need to be patient. But if you have bad habits, every day that clicks by, you’re putting yourself behind the eight ball a little bit more. So, every time you decide to stop drinking, and then on Thursday, you say Screw it, and you drink again until Monday. And you do that for weeks and months. And even a few years, that time spent in a bad habit is compounding. It’s taking you away from your goal further and further, every month, and every year. And that’s one of the central reasons why small habits, they matter so much. They don’t just add up, they compound. So, focus on the trajectory of the direction you’re headed. If you stop drinking now, and then you build up two days and five days and 20 days, if you keep on that streak of continuous sober days, you don’t stop and start over, you don’t go back, focus on the trajectory you’re on, you’re on that 401k curve that’s only going up and up and up. And then you can see the huge difference of where you’ll be in six months or a year. And the vast difference between six months of you drinking versus you not drinking. And if you do it right, you will not be suffering in the process either. You’re getting yourself lots of treats, you’re celebrating your milestone, maybe you’re buying yourself a bike, you’re going to yoga practice, you’re waking up early in the morning to journal, I don’t know what you’re doing. But it’s something way better than waking up with a hangover, and you’re letting time work for you.
So if you hit moments of frustration, when your progress feels slow, when you feel like you’re not making a huge difference in your efforts day to day, or if those thoughts crop up where you think I’ll just drink tonight, this weekend this week. And I can just start again on this date, shift your focus to your current trajectory. And that allows you to feel really positive about those improvements you’re making each day, even if you don’t see them, because you are letting time work for you. Alright, this was the third podcast in the series about how to break your habit of drinking, based on the research into what works in changing behavior for long term success. And it’s the research summarized really, really well in the book Atomic Habits by James clear. So, if you love this stuff, if you’re super into it, go ahead and grab the book, read it or listen to it, I highly recommend it. And I highly recommend You Are A Badass book by Jensen, Sarah, I love listening to them. But she’s written not only You Are a Badass, but you are a badass at making money, and two books on habits.
And if you were interested in going further into doing this work and having me teach you and hold your hand through the process, about how to implement these ideas how to stop drinking, using identity based habits, how to change your habit of drinking by up leveling and refining your cues, your cravings, your responses and your rewards. By staying the course by doing all the things that will help you feel fabulous. And get to the tipping point of when choosing not to drink just becomes part of who you are.
I really invite you to go check out my new online on demand course. It’s called The Sobriety Starter Kit. You can find out all about it by going to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. I am honestly so proud. It is based on the framework the step by step process and the system that I go through with my private one on one coaching clients. And if you’re interested in doing that work, but you’re not ready or able or you just don’t want to work with a private coach, I really think this course will make a difference. It is a wonderful gift you can give yourself to change the trajectory of your life. So please check that out. You can find it at www.sobrietystarterkit.com. And thank you for listening.
So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
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.
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