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“Successful People Don’t Drink” – Why I Quit the Booze and What Happened Next
At around Junction 3 or 4 of the M40 Northbound I made a decision that I now call a life-changing one. After a long two days in London with great learning but also lots of drinking and two crabby hangovers I decided that was it – it was time to hang up my drinking boots.
I’ve stuck to it, too. At the time of writing this (late May 2022) I’m sober – and I’m healthier too. I quit because quite simply it wasn’t serving me anymore and I’ll go into what I mean by that in a minute. I decided that successful people don’t drink (to excess or at all) and that because I needed to be successful, I should join them on their sober journey.
So… I quit alcohol to become successful.
Did it work? Well… let’s dive in and see what’s happened since I removed a life-long habit that I felt was holding me back, shall we?
“Successful People Don’t Drink” – Why I Quit the Booze and What Happened Next
The slippery slope to chaos
One of the first things people ask me when I tell them that I’ve quit drinking is, “How much were you drinking?” and since you’re not my doctor and I don’t have to do that whole ‘think of a number and half it as they’re only going to double it anyway’ game, I’ll tell you what I tell them.
About 15-20 pints a weekend, and nothing in the week.
That doesn’t seem excessive, does it?
But the nature of the drinking was the reason I quit and the slippery slope that we’re all on if we do drink, was my focus. I drank as soon as I could on a Friday and throughout the weekend, until I had to stop. 15-20 pints might now seem like a doctor’s answer actually. I mean, do you remember how many drinks you had last week? It was probably more.
Anyway, it was the way I used drink that bothered me.
Years ago, I had hypnosis to stop the drinking in the week (because my willpower alone wasn’t enough to do Dry January anymore) and that created the perfect storm for weekend binge drinking. That was the main problem, and then there was the diary management.
I would choose to do things and go places based on if I could drink. I would plan the tip run, the fuel top-up, the drop off at football club and other weekend duties so that on the way back (or sometimes during the things I was supposed to be doing) I could drink.
It was this ‘habit’ that I disliked the most and feel very ashamed about now looking back. It was the priority I gave to my habit – one that cost money, health, and happiness – over the time spent with my family and friends.
Oh… I should have mentioned that too. I drank alone most of the time. It was easier that way. I could ‘pop in’ to the local whenever I drove past and that required no planning or texting of friends… who were probably busy with their family, anyway!
Where would this end? I was all too aware of that. Most of us have alcoholics in our family. I do… at least… I did. I know what starts out as harmless drinking can easily become and where sadly some of those drinkers end up. It’s often a habit that you can’t remove.
I have an addictive personality and I could see it all coming… so I stopped it in its tracks.
So how much did I drink? Not a massive amount, but enough for it to be a problem, and enough that it was ruining my weekend, my bank balance, and my health. It wasn’t getting better, only worse, so I’d say I was drinking too much.
Do successful people really not drink?
This was (initially) the reason I quit. After a full-on two days of personal development at that event in London I was in awe of the epic speakers and attendees. Go getters and go gotters paraded around, and none more so than those on the stage. There were millionaires with epic stories to tell and I had one resounding message from them all.
They were all in fantastic shape and I was not.
Watching them on stage sharing their superb content wearing the most fabulous clothes I was struggling to take in their insights and tips because all I could think about was how great they looked. They were superhuman-like. Their jeans fitted like on the websites, their jackets and shoes looked like an image from Instagram… and I looked like shit.
Sat there with beer sweats in a XL t-shirt that was asking for an upgrade to an XXL, I felt ashamed. I’d got drunk the night before on both days. I’d slept like shit and I felt it. Many of the people there had been to the gym that morning, but I’d sat outside nursing a coffee trying to wake up.
That’s not what successful people do. They don’t go to events like that and act like that and they don’t go because a major reason for going is linked to drinking in hotel bars. They don’t raid the mini bar within minutes of checking in. They go to improve.
Successful people don’t drink (that much or to excess or in the way I was).
I’m reminded of a previous job I used to do where I served at high society events. I even served famous people. It was the job of the team I ran to keep everyone topped up at weddings, events, and corporate parties.
The main person we had to keep happy? The organiser/bill payer. At a wedding this would be the father of the bride and it still amazes me now how hard that job was.
Generally speaking, the bill payer at those kind of events was very successful… and they didn’t drink. They had a token glass of fizz which they placed their hand over the top of when a top-up was offered; leaving it to go flat and lifeless just in time for my boss to arrive and complain about it.
It might not be all successful people. I’m sure there are successful entrepreneurs who get hammered. But in my experience, this successful drinker just wasn’t showing up.
I wanted success – I still do – so I took 2 and 2, put them together and made 6, and I’m happy with the result.
Drinking was holding me back…
The mild hangover that I nursed at the event was just the tip of the chilled beer iceberg. The lack of productivity, the slower Monday starts, the early finishes on Friday so I could get drinking, the bigger hangovers that led to Tuesday slacking at the desk, and the naps in the office on Monday afternoon were only a small, visible issue.
Drinking caused the ripples in my life that were less than helpful. Hangovers meant poor diet to recover because everyone knows that a cheese sandwich and another latte is the only way out. Drinking meant poor choices for food all weekend. Drinking beer meant no room for water. An allergy to wheat and gluten that wasn’t really picked up kept me ‘inflated’ with bloating most of the time, too kinda like a beer belly with a loft extension!
Because of drinking at the weekend, the rest of my week was filled with poor choices and actions. I was tired, knackered, beaten, and I was ill. Although never officially diagnosed I had the onset of gout in my right foot and a blood test years earlier had shown signs of early diabetes from all that excess sugar, and it would have only got worse years on with the continued onslaught from my drinking arm.
Drinking was holding me back because I didn’t have the body or the energy in the body to drive the brain to create my life – the life that I wanted and wasn’t getting – the life of those people on stage.
Drinking caused arguments and most of that was indirectly because I was tired or irritated that I wasn’t in the pub. It was affecting almost every single area of my life. I wasn’t active, I wasn’t healthy, I wasn’t focused, I was broke, and frankly it couldn’t continue.
So… I quit.
Has quitting the booze worked?
So, the above is a little insight into why I quit and where I was. A lot of people comment on the ‘normal’ drinking habit I had. “Three days a week isn’t bad.” “Beer at the weekends is ‘normal’.”
And that’s why it’s a problem and it’s why I feel it’s a problem to us all. It’s accepted – it’s actually encouraged.
I was a ‘normal’ drinker, a drinker with a local pub, some beer and wine in the house, and someone who’d meet friends in the pub over joining them for a workout or walk. I was normal… but I was broken.
I quit on the 2nd of September 2021. It’s been nine months now. We were all created in that timeframe, and I feel (without being all melodramatic about it) that I’ve been recreated in that time.
I didn’t just quit the drinking you see because – as it turns out – the ripple effect of drinking works both ways. Where it used to drive bad behaviour when I did it, now I don’t drink it drives good habits when I don’t.
- I drink more water now.
- I eat only food that I prepare (no meal deals or shop-bought crap and those Uber Eats cheese sandwiches are long gone!).
- I eat smaller portions and I have a newfound love of moisturising my face as it turns out I have great skin now that the bags under my eyes have gone. I actually look OK now!
- There are loads of great things to come out of this that I could take on their own as a winner. The impact on those around me has been profound with people I know also quitting and losing weight and feeling good. The benefit to my business is visible in my profit and loss from the day I quit, and generally life is so much better now.
As my friend Adam would say – I got a free upgrade!
Did it work? Well… I’m not ‘successful’ yet but our business and the impact we’re making is far greater and on the right path now. I’m implementing more and thanks to better sleep my energy levels are right up there so I can work faster and more efficiently.
I’d call that a win. But there’s more…
I replaced my addiction
For me, the best decision I made in the week after quitting was finding a new addiction. If you’ve ever tried to quit something, then you’ll know all too well that it’s the habit of doing it that’s the hardest to break.
I still think about drinking. I miss beer in a weird cognitive kinda way; my hands don’t know what to do with themselves at events or when I’m bored at the weekend (the devil finds work for idle hands!). It’s something I’ll always have, and that’s fine as I’m focused on it and in control now.
But also when you quit something, you fill it with something else, and a few days after quitting and announcing it on Facebook (for accountability) I joined a fitness programme.
I’d met at PT at the event in London and connected with him on Facebook. He’s a mountain of a man (here he is) and he’d followed up asking about my health.
“How’s your fitness?” he asked. I replied, “Shit, how’s yours!?” and that was that.
Since quitting the booze I’ve now become addicted to new and healthier drugs – adrenaline and endorphins. I love working out and the feeling I get when I train. I also love it when I fit into old clothes that were once too small for me or when I can buy jeans and they fit (almost) like they do on the website.
I’m just under 3 stone lighter and I’ve built a good amount of muscle weight in the process so the fat loss is more than that. I look and feel better and that’s creating a better world around me.
It’s changed my conversations, my weekends, my shopping habits and even my Facebook Ads. Even my digital world is reflecting back the new person that I’ve created.
I found a new addiction – one that serves me – and I couldn’t be happier. Well… I could be… when this (smaller) beer belly is completely gone.
The ripple effect drives me now
Something that’s really surprised me in all this is the reaction I’ve got from social media and then in the wider world when I’m out and about meeting people at networking events and other occasions.
What I’m doing is making people re-think their drinking habits. They see their own drinking in my story and although we’re all different and have varying levels in all aspects of our lives, they feel it’s time to review the drinking too.
I must admit, I did it for all the right reason but the weight loss and change in my physique have really been the winner for me. I get constant comments about my appearance and it’s bloody lovely if I’m honest.
It’s this transformation that’s getting (mostly guys) to take stock of their middle age spread and ask some serious questions.
Drinking 15-20 pints a weekend is a lot of extra calories. According to Nutracheck.co.uk a pint of Butty Bach (my fave beer) is 193 calories. So even just the conservative guess of 15 pints a week is 2,896 calories and that’s more calories than someone my height should have in a day. I was drinking a day’s worth of food a weekend so it should have been no surprise that I was fat.
Dropping the booze alone surely lost some weight but the instantly improved diet and added exercise (6 days a week #5amClub y’all!) has certainly cemented it all. It’s been hard work with loads of learnings along the way, but I feel and look so much better thanks to the ripple effect.
All the added benefits, the changes I’m masking to other people’s lives, and the influence I have on my kids, family and team who have all cut back are uncalculatable.
I win, you lose booze! #YouLoseBooze
I’ll always be a drinker…
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll always think about drink. I’ll always wonder what it would be like to have a beer again. The sunshine will always make me think about outside the pub and the weekends will always trigger the old habits of grabbing some beer or wine on the way home and drinking… for the sake of drinking.
I’ll always be a drinker, and that’s OK. I’ll enjoy my lime and soda (my new out out drink that I only drink when I go out) and enjoy the new life I’ve created. Nine months on and I really feel like I’ve created a new life and I’m not about to risk it all for a sip of the amber nectar.
If you drink, that’s OK. It wasn’t serving me, so I quit.
This is by no means a judgy judgy post about alcohol or other people’s approach to it.
It is a problem in our world though, and the socially-accepted and actively encouraged drug is responsible for more deaths than many of the major illnesses that we fear. It’s a silent killer for many and much of the blogs, videos, and podcasts I’ve listened to over the past few months point to this.
But… you do you. You’ll probably be OK. That said, if anything from the above blog resonates then have a little chat with yourself.
I’ve posted this on our company blog as I thought it was relevant.
I’ve not linked anything to SEO, content, or social media here. I’m acutely aware this blog is not like the rest of the blogs here on our website but it feels like a sensible platform to share the story of a struggling business owner who quit the booze to become successful. So here it is, warts and all.
So much of my world as an agency owner was about drinking and it’s likely it is in your world.
I’d welcome your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to continue this conversation as I’ve found that very valuable on this journey. My DMs on Facebook are open if you want to chat privately as so many have done during this journey.
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