Kicking a potential-sucking habit feels fantastic. It’s not easy. Yet, replacing each life-wasting habit with a life-fulfilling habit is the way to go. I know this from first hand experience.

Inspired by the Dry July campaign a few years back, I decided to raise the bar and commit to pushing past one month to twelve months of no alcohol. My nay-sayers told me there was no way I could make the distance. They tried, and tested me, until they realised I was not about to prove their doubts right. Stubborn wins when it comes to committing to improve your life.

And I did it! I gained far more than I lost over that year. There were so many benefits. I had no idea until I gave it a go. I’ve never looked back.

I’m passing on what I learnt, in the hope that you too can take on a challenge to kick a habit that gets in your way of living your best possible life. If I can do it, you absolutely can.

On the go? Here’s 30 seconds of take outs:

  • Bad habits are behaviours that eat into your time and limit you from reaching your full potential.
  • It isn’t easy to give up a time-sucking habit. Like committing to running a marathon, it’s tough to get started. Once you have a plan, and can start to really feel the benefits, it just gets easier.
  • Does the thought of giving up drinking alcohol for a month, or a year, freak you out? If it does, chances are you’re giving drinking more value in your life than it deserves. Try going dry for a month. I dare you!

Keep learning >>

Dry July has crept into our Australian narrative. It is a campaign run by a not-for-profit foundation to raise money for cancer research. The campaign challenges people to abstain from drinking alcohol for the month of July. Any contribution to cancer research and improving the outcomes of those affected by cancer is a great cause in my view.

Kicking a habit feels great

Motivated by Dry July, about three years ago I decided to challenge myself by doing a full year off with no alcohol. The idea came from a friend of mine. We were discussing how that freaked him out! That thought of giving up the booze for 12 months really seemed like a super hard thing to commit to.

He pondered the idea for a couple of weeks and had a revelation that if giving up alcohol was freaking him out so much, the value or importance he attached to drinking alcohol as a lifestyle habit was well beyond what it should be.

Friends can be a great source of motivation. I’d never given up alcohol for any extended period, not even for one dry month. Always up for a challenge, I’d decided giving up for a month was too easy, and that a real challenge would be to give up for a year!

Going against the grain (pun intended) is empowering

Now you may be thinking, “What? That’s crazy!”

Alcohol is a curious habit.  Drinking is entwined in Aussie culture. When I first decided to commit to a year alcohol free, I met a whole bunch of resistance. For example, my work colleagues tested me for about the first three months. They backed off once they resigned themselves to the fact that I was going to stick it out. No more hassling from my work space!

Back in my day, the Military tolerated drinking to excess, to a degree.  Think about it. You’re bottled up for weeks, if not months on end in a high tempo role [compared to civi street]. You get to a point when you want to let loose! I get it, but what could you gain by giving alcohol away for a while?

It seems irrational, to go without something to gain something better. Abstaining from unnecessary habits – eating poorly, social media trawling, spending money on things you don’t really need, gambling and drinking come to mind – is a great way to adjust the value of where it truly sits in your life’s priorities.

Based on my own experiences, I’ve discovered that most counter-intuitive behaviours – those that go against popular belief or trends – hide a secret blessing.

For example, you might find that in your world of social media what starts off as a harmless habit can morph into a time-wasting, low productivity habit. We’re often unaware how insidiously habits can suck up our time.  If the idea of giving yourself limited time on social media, or ditching it for a while, terrifies you, it’s probably time to re-prioritise where you spend your valuable time. Simply by taking a break from a habit, can help you adjust where it sits in terms of importance in your life.

What I’m proposing here, is to set aside some regular time to self-evaluate how you spend your time. Does the balance look right? Then make a conscious effort to spend more time in activities, or with people, that you value, and less time on habits that are taking you away from other life priorities.

“Cut loose unproductive activity and bring forth what produces fruit.”

What I gained from losing alcohol

The whole purpose of sharing this experience with you, is to pass on my learnings in the hope that you can benefit by following my lead. It may not be cutting out drinking. Whether your habits, or where you’re spending idle time is online gaming, or binge-watching streaming television series, or drinking copious amounts of caffeine, you’ll be surprised at how good you feel once you take control. Here is what I gained in my dry year, apart from a healthier weekly budget!


As weeks turned into months, one of the earlier benefits that really stood out for me was this overwhelming sense of clarity of thought. It felt like being on-point, all day and every day. Being able to think clearly is something that I greatly value. There was nothing I was not ready for! Now I find that I can’t live without a clear head. It’s a great place to be, to receive and create new ideas and make good decisions. It’s the benefit that keeps on giving!


What I mean by leverage is time. It might seem obvious that time is the great equaliser. Everyone has 24 hours in a day. The key difference between people achieving great results and those who aren’t, is how they leverage the 24 hours they have at their disposal. Since I stopped drinking I get a whole lot more done! Far less time, if any, is wasted on empty activities.

Enjoying better relationships

I can openly say the relationship I have with my wife has never been better. Simply by being home I found that I wasn’t having the odd late night with the boys and getting home to the cold shoulder from the Mrs! Come on fellas, you know what I mean.

“I’ll just have one more beer then I’ll head back home.”

We’ve all done it, and where does that one more beer get us?

Being a better parent

You can buy your kids stuff, they love it. Over time, I’ve realised there is nothing kids want more than a Dad to be present in their life. It’s a great example for your kids to see you in control. Kids observe, absorb and copy from an early age. They can end up being what they’ve seen throughout their childhood.  It’s what they know. As parents, we have a responsibility to be acutely aware of what we say and do, knowing that our children are sponges as they learn and grow.

Better health

No bones here.  Too much of anything is bad for you, booze included. Moderation in everything really can make for a more balanced, more rewarding life. Most of the time-sucking habits we develop, take us away from focusing on building better or stronger bodies, or optimum health. In fact, it is more likely that bad habits will literally make you unwell over time.

I’m not going to pretend that breaking a habit is easy. It takes discipline, firm commitment and belief that you can change for the better.

You need to know why you’re making a commitment to give something away.  Make sure you have a plan of how you want to spend your time, why and what your life’s priorities are. Having clear goals set, makes it easier to visualise and stay the path, particularly at times when your mates want to hassle you a bit about it, and see you fail. They don’t truly want to see you fail. In fact, it is often a reflection on where they’re at themselves. They’d love to be reprioritising their life too – who wouldn’t? It’s universally understood that its tough to break a habit. But once you do? Wow. You won’t regret a moment.

Your turn. What would improve in your life if you gave drinking the flick for a bit? Is it freaking you out to even think about it? If the answer is ‘yes’, chances are you’ve a lot to gain by losing the alcohol habit.

It has now been three years since I gave up drinking. I feel so much more in control of my life that I want to keep it going!  I’m not saying I’ll never drink alcohol again, but I find I just don’t need it any more.

Food for thought.  I’d love to hear your experiences if you’ve gone down a similar path.

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