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For years, every January, I would write down the same three resolutions: start a coaching business, be more authentic and drink less alcohol. Little did I know that it was my reliance on alcohol that was preventing me from taking the necessary steps to start the coaching and speaking business that I had daydreamed about from my open-concept office at Google.
Year after year, another January 1st would roll around, and the consequences of my drinking were piling up. My entrepreneurial aspirations were still stuck in my journal.
I was blind to the fact that alcohol was the primary impediment to my entrepreneurial dreams. It was only through giving up alcohol entirely and committing to a sober lifestyle that I could launch and grow the business.
Alcohol is ingrained into the fabric of our lives: celebrations, office events, girl's nights, concerts, funerals, dating and unwinding on the couch all involve a drink in hand.
I couldn't imagine abandoning the "work-hard-play-hard" moniker that I had grown not only to enjoy but also rely on. Who was I if I wasn't "killing it" Monday to Friday and rounding up my coworkers for happy hour? It was a startling proposition to rebuild my identity from scratch.
Ultimately the idea of continuing this work-hard-play-hard lifestyle became more painful than the uncertainty of a life without alcohol. Something inside of me broke, and I finally admitted that alcohol and I were done, over, and never getting back together. This was the jumping-off point, the start of a new identity that would materialize as I slowly started changing my relationship with alcohol.
Since I had already done the impossible, quitting drinking, I had a newfound confidence and conviction that absolutely anything was possible. This belief was fueling the inevitable ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey. Studies show that quitting drinking is correlated with increased motivation and self-efficacy, which I found to be true.
Both getting sober and starting a business required new habits: waking up early to build a website, only saying "Yes" to essential projects at my day job, turning down dinners to take my coaching class and honing my speaking skills at toastmasters week after week. These habits were made easier by the sudden appearance of hours that were once lost to hangovers, the energy that was once lost to 2 a.m. bedtimes, bad food and motivation that was once lost to low self-esteem. Alcohol is a depressant and can cause trouble with sleeping, concentration and anxiety. I need all of my resources to start and run this new business.
In my sober community, I heard that I didn't have to stop drinking forever; I just had to do it one day at a time. Similarly, I didn't have to build a whole business, I just had to take small steps every day: take the networking meeting, practice a coaching tool, hire an accountant, etc. The daily repetition of these small acts eventually led to a full client roster, an executed marketing plan and the capital necessary to quit my job at Google.
Something else happened that I didn't expect: my self-esteem skyrocketed. This was the starting place for my new identity based on integrity and authenticity. Finally, I became the person I wanted and always knew I could be. Instead of making up excuses to stay in bed hungover, I kept my commitments. Instead of fearing being caught in my web of lies, I could sleep at night knowing I had nothing to lie about. My tastes and hobbies changed. I spoke my mind.
My business blossomed because of it. I had truly transformed my life from the inside out and could help others do the same from experience. My clients were attracted to my confidence and conviction. Before I left my day job, my boss noticed, and I landed a promotion because I was working smarter and using my speaking chops to pitch bigger deals.
I didn't give up alcohol to start a business. But the lessons learned from changing my life and doing the impossible have made me a better entrepreneur and coach.