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How going booze-free has transformed my life and my business.

From the outside, my business looked like a huge success. I was making the big bucks, selling out courses, writing books and travelling the world as a well-paid speaker.

But under the surface things weren’t quite as shiny as they seemed.

I was stressed, sad and living on a diet of crisps and coffee.
I was struggling as a mum, partner, and business owner, feeling like too little butter scraped over too much brain.
And my answer to all this? Wine.

What started as an ‘I deserve this’ cheeky wine while making dinner, turned into a half a bottle a night habit. And then Covid hit. The world closed in, and wine became the only tool in my emotional toolbox.
And as a woman over 40, the alcohol took a much bigger toll on my mind and body.

Something had to change.
And so I changed it.
Now after two years of being (almost completely) alcohol-free, everything looks so much brighter.

Giving up the booze has been the single most powerful achievement in my life and my business. Was it easy? Hell no. Was it doable? Yes.
Let me tell you how.

Step 1. Find your why
First, I made a big list of all the reasons I wanted to give up drinking, going beyond the obvious health benefits into deeper thoughts about being someone I could be proud of and setting a good example for my teenage son. I kept these on my phone and read through them daily.

Step 2: set a date
It’s easy to mutter the words “I’ll never drink again” after a big night, but the truth is many of us say this and then happily trot to the bottle shop the very next day.
Set a date in your diary to give up, tell friends and family, and clear your diary. This will give you the best chance of getting through the first and hardest week.

Step 3: Start small
Perhaps you want to start with just a month off and see how you feel. You can of course dive into any of the Dry July style charity events, or you can jump on the Alcohol Experiment from Annie Grace (there’s also a book and a podcast). This guided program was fundamental in my shift in perspective regarding booze.

Step 4: Get support
Find some other folk to take up the challenge with you, persuade a partner or friend, or join an existing community online (there are heaps on Facebook). These groups will save you on your dark, craving days!

Step 5:  Stock up on alcohol-free drinks
Some find AF drinks a trigger, but I never did. In fact, they absolutely save me day after day. The ritual and habit of drinking was hugely hard to overcome in the early days. Now, two years on, having an AF option when I’m out with friends helps me feel less alien. I’m a big fan of Edenvale Sparkling wine and love fake beers (even though I wasn’t a beer drinker).

Step 6:  Understand the science
There are oodles of quit-lit books and podcasts out there to help you understand the neural and physical impacts of alcohol. Once you know the facts, it’s impossible to unknow them.

And while facts won’t always save you from giving in to a craving, over time they really help you understand how little alcohol brings to your life.

Kate Toon working
Kate Toon working

Step 7:  Stay social
I’ll admit that several times while trying to stop I’ve gone into mild hibernation to make life easier. But obviously, socialising is important too. So, after a time I did start going out (checking in with venues beforehand to see if they had AF options). At first, I felt left out, and disgruntled, but if the conversation was good I quickly forgot.
These days I still sometimes feel ‘other’ at social events, but the truth is sometimes I still felt this way when drinking.

Side note: It’s amazing to wake up the next day and not grimace at the thought of all the dumb things you might have said and done.

Step 8:  Keep trying.

Of course, you’ll slip up. Last year I managed 355 non-drinking days, the other 11 were a quick sip, or a glass and one night where I let loose and got squiffy. I could have beaten myself up about these ‘fails’ (and likely spiralled into near-daily drinking again) but instead, I just chalked it up to experience, dusted myself of and continued. How you treat yourself when you’re less than perfect is an important part of the journey.

Giving up booze has been the single most challenging thing I’ve done as a grown human. The ‘mummy wine culture’ is strong and combined with the business hustle culture of after-conference drinks and networking events, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Not drinking marks me out as different. I feel like a rebel. These days I’m sneaking AF drinks into events rather than booze. But the more I speak about not drinking the more other non-drinkers I find.

Does life occasionally feel a little less exciting these days? Yes.

But do I feel like I am more in charge of my life, more confident, healthy, trustworthy, capable, focused, clear, loving and loved. Also, yes.

I’ve learned not to mistake stress for excitement and not to confuse contentment with boredom.

I don’t think I’m better than people who drink, I just know I’m better to myself when I don’t drink.

And perhaps you could be too?

Kate Toon
Kate Toonhttps://www.katetoon.com/
Kate Toon is an award-winning business mentor and digital marketing coach. She’s a down to earth human on a mission to demystify the realities of running a successful online business. Her Stay Tooned group of companies include the Digital Marketing Collective, The Clever Copywriting School, and The Recipe for SEO Success. Kate’s helped more than 20,000 other businesses demystify digital marketing, grapple the Google Beast, and find their own version of success. Kate is a renowned speaker, podcaster and author, and was named Australia’s Most Influential Small Business Woman (2022), one of Australia’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders (2022), and Businesswoman of the Year and Training & Education Provider of the Year at the national My Business Awards (2020). She’s the author of Six Figures in School Hours: How to run a successful business and still be a good parent (2023), and a resident expert on Kochie’s Business Builders. She’s also the founder of The Digital Marketing Collective Conference, The Digital Marketing Collective Retreat and The Digital Marketing Collective Mastermind. On top of this Kate hosts three podcasts, speaks at events around the world and is learning to rollerskate. All this from the Toon Cave in her backyard, accompanied by her very own CFO (Chief Furry OfficeDog) Pomplemousse and assisted remotely by a small team of talented humans.