Five years ago, I quit alcohol. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to.
I was a broker in the city and most people within the industry thought I was mad. They believed it impossible to grow a broking business and not drink. Someone I admired even suggested my career would be over. They were wrong.
After ten years of growing a broking desk using the traditional methods of ‘entertaining’ I was stressed out, worn out, unhealthy, overweight and revenue had plateaued. Also, at that time I believed there was no more financial upside. My only option was to hold on to my health for as long as I could - then retire.
Just at that moment, I had one of those slow epiphanies - I looked around at the equally stressed out, unhappy, unhealthy brokers and I thought to myself - surely this is not what we signed up to? If chasing our financial dreams meant we had to destroy our bodies, minds and home-life then what’s the point? Confused, I quelled my heretical thoughts and decided to make more cash - that will solve the problem. Only it didn’t.
Rather than panic and do something silly like resigning from the firm I loved. I started to ask questions:
What if it were possible to be a really successful broker and enjoy every minute of it? What if you could achieve your monetary goals and remain super fit, healthy, engaged, relaxed and create a happy home-life? Then I resigned.
To test my hypothesis, I thought I would leave the no1 brokerage in the market to set up my own firm within the umbrella of an almost unknown brokerage in Europe at the time. Once more they thought me mad.
During nine months gardening leave, I set out on a mission unlock the secret to a successful career and life. This wellbeing adventure took me around the world to train with the best of the best from leading sports coaches to the co-founder of NLP John Grinder. I went back to university twice part time to finish a degree and later this year a Masters’ degree in positive psychology and coaching psychology.
Armed with my knowledge I arrived back in the broking world and attempted to meditate, eat salad and stuff, and exercise. But nothing would stick. I was too hungover to move my body, too anxious to meditate, and egg Mcmuffins were essential alcohol-induced survival-stodge.I quickly realised for this new business to survive I had to be on my ‘A-game’.
After yet another round of traditional ‘entertaining’, which left me with zero energy, motivation, poor productivity and lacklustre performance. I asked a new question: What if I stopped drinking?To set the scene, the thoughts of ‘not’ drinking scared the life out of me. In my mind, I believed this was how I built my previous business, socialised, celebrated, commiserated and had fun. I fell in love with my wife because she drank pints. To be very clear - there was no ‘problem’. I just suspected alcohol was holding me back and I was right. It was.
So, I decided to take a 28-day break from the booze. Everyone laughed. No one believed I could do it. One annoying colleague bet me ‘any money’ I wouldn’t last a month. He was right!I slipped, stumbled, fumbled and made every mistake in the alcohol-free book. But rather than give up, I was intrigued, and my ‘success’ quest became more interesting. Now I also wanted to know exactly how to make lasting behavioural change in the face of massive social pressure. So, I kept studying and experimenting, then it happened; I reached 28-days alcohol-free and everything changed.
This was my longest break from alcohol since my teens and I felt great. My eyes were bright, I had my energy and my life back. I felt so good I decided to keep going and what happened next was to transform my business and life. With alcohol out the system I found the motivation to exercise again and the cringe-worthy calls to the personal trainer about a mystery bug dried up. I also began to notice what foods filled me with energy and what depleted this source. Rather than dodging the salad, I moved towards a plant-based diet.
The productivity gains were staggering
For the first time in a long time I was operating at full capacity all day – every day. While the traditional methods of broking left most teams at half-mast over lunch and decimated on a Friday, I was able to bang the drum and force our way into the market while the others were recovering. Rather than going alcohol-free destroying the business, it was the catalyst that made it a roaring success.
The comparison speaks for itself
Ten years of blood, sweat, tears and stress were required to build a ‘successful’ multimillion dollar broking business that I believed had no more financial upside. My production had plateaued, and I was left unhealthy, unfit and broken.
After learning the science, training with the best and quitting the booze, in less than half the time I helped create a business that was seven times bigger.
The health wins
The real wins were found outside financial success. At 44 I am physically and mentally fitter than when I played professional football. I managed to reverse the early signs of heart disease, lose three stone in weight and my body fat plummeted from 30% down to below 10% where it is today. There is almost zero stress in my life, and I am so much happier.
The learning wins
While the broking business grew I also had the time, energy and clarity of mind to maximise the truly important things in life such as maintaining a deep connection with friends and family, having a vibrant home life, feeling motivated in the office, being proud of my performance, finding flow in the job and performing like an office athlete.
Due to my improved inner fitness, I also had the mental capacity to become a master practitioner of NLP, a mindfulness-based awareness coach and co-founder of a social movement called OYNB (OneYearNoBeer.com) and write my first book with the publishing giant Pan Macmillan - Bluebird ‘The 28-day alcohol-free challenge’
The greatest win of all
The best part was that my home-life was so much brighter. As my physical and mental fitness returned and stress dissolved I had the time, vitality and clarity of mind to be present with my family and children. Our relationships were better than ever and for me, this is the greatest win of all.
Then, just last week, I resigned again.
A social movement
Inspired by my transformation all those years ago, I co-founded a social movement called OYNB a 28,90 and 365-day alcohol-free challenge with another broker called Ruari Fairbarins.Today I am proud to say that our little dream is now a big one and we are both in the position to make our part-time passion our full-time vocation.Our new mission is to help transform the world’s relationship with alcohol and power up people’s lives in the process.
The healthy takeaway
Real success is possible for everyone and you do not have to sacrifice your body, mind and most importantly your home-life to achieve it.If you enjoyed my story and want to achieve something similar then join me and take an alcohol-free challenge by clicking here.
Go on I bet you can’t. I’ll time you. On your marks, get set….
Andy Ramage is a motivational speaker, author and Co-Founder of Oneyearnobeer.com