One Year To Change Your Life

Most people over-estimate what’s possible in the short term and under-estimate what’s possible over the long term.

Having said that, it is possible to change your life within one year.

This post is not about me (it’s about what’s possible)…

…but my life has changed drastically in the last 6 months…and I expect it to change again in the next 6 months.

A break from alcohol

I am now coming up on 6 months without an alcoholic drink.

This may be no great shakes for you, but trust me it’s a big deal for me.

How am dealing with the cravings? Dunno, they went away in the first two or three weeks. 

Once I got to one month, something clicked in me…my dopamine system had been reset and returned to baseline. The spell was broken. 

The weird thing was that I kept feeling better and better…it took a full 3 months for my mood improvement to level out.  Twas the gift that kept on giving.

You do you

The Escape Artist does not do preaching. I will not be trying to convert anyone else to quitting booze.

If alcohol is your reward for hard work, then good for you. If you are getting more out of alcohol than alcohol is taking from you, then good for you.

This post is not even about alcohol.  It’s about the fact that your whole life can change in 12 months. 

Sometimes making one change can leads to a snowball effect – a personal breakthrough that breaks a limiting belief, unlocks other changes and accelerates your future progress.

Anything that takes you outside your comfort zone has the potential to do this…whether that’s ice baths, running a marathon, doing an improv class, public speaking or whatever is slightly scary to you.

Cold water exposure

In the last 6 months, I have also got into the habit of regular cold water exposure (my son demonstrates this here).

There is nothing on this earth (with the possible exception of class A drugs) that changes your physiological state as quickly, as profoundly and as beneficially as cold water exposure.

Within seconds of getting into an ice bath, you feel a shockwave of energy. If you do >3 minutes of whole body immersion, you will then feel an energy boost for hours afterwards.

With alcohol you borrow happiness from the future. You get short term pleasure and then have to pay this back with interest (a hangover) the next day.

Cold water exposure is the opposite: you take the hit upfront and then you get the benefit released slowly back to you with added interest.

Did you know that cold water immersion not only improves mood (via an adrenaline & dopamine boost)…over time it stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis?

This means that you are making new mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cell, the foundation of metabolism and the conversion of food to energy) in your body.

In other words, you are changing at the cellular level.

Bio-chemistry is upstream of everything

If I were exaggerating for effect (and it has been known) I would say that bio-chemistry is destiny.

If that’s too much for you, then it is no exaggeration to say that your bio-chemistry determines the quality of your lived experience.

If you want to feel rich, you need to get your bio-chemistry right. You can’t cure money worries with money alone.

And, if your bio-chemistry supports a bias to action, good health and intelligent risk-taking, well then that’s gonna tip your career (and investing) odds in your favour.

If you want to “look under the bonnet” of you bio-chemistry you can get yourself a male / female hormone panel blood test. I have been testing myself regularly for the last few years and it’s fascinating what you can learn from this process.

Did you know that regular cold water exposure can produce supra-physiological levels of testosterone?

These are my testosterone results after ~6 months off alcohol and with regular ice baths / cold water exposure. 

Laboratory reference range for testosterone (male over 50 yrs): 7.7 – 24.8 nmol/L

My testosterone result: 35.8 nmol/L

Apparently, this puts me in the top 1% of men…which is hilarious given my background of being a fat, soft and wimpy chartered accountant and desk jockey.


I know it’s a bit bro-tarded to post your testosterone levels publicly but at this point I just don’t care…when you’re self-employed, you can’t afford to waste good content.

This is not down to genetics. Six months ago, my test results were slightly below average…now it seems I’m off the scale.  Anything is possible.

One interesting thing is the feeling of living through this change. Although this is a huge and rapid change in hormone profile over 6 months, to live through it feels almost painfully slow.

It’s like investing: once you have the strategy right, patience becomes super-important.

Change is possible

Change is not always easy, but it is possible.

If we are interested in transformational change – and I am…both for my coaching clients and also for myself – then we are interested in gateway habits that unlock new ways of seeing the world.

One of the fascinating things about doing financial coaching is that no two clients are the same. Different clients want different things from me. Some want a sanity check on their FI spreadsheet, some want a sounding board for their financial plan, some want to learn about investing, some want help handling a stretch promotion.

If clients want me to stick to personal finance then I do. But some want a more radical transformation that might touch on career, health or relationships.

That’s fine with me…in my coaching I suspend my own ego, I ditch my own preconceptions and I listen to what the client wants (and what the client needs…which is not always the same thing). To do this, you have to meet people where they are.

This means being ready to discuss anything that helps you make progress and get to the next level.

A final word

Question: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: Only one…but the lightbulb has to really want to change

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  1. According to Tony Edwards’ book, The Good News About Booze, a teetotaler is as much at risk health-wise as a relatively heavy drinker. Red wine in particular has many health benefits, beer less so.

  2. I’ve been drinking more over the last year or so than before – combination of factors.
    Reduction is coming in the form of Lent – but it cannot come soon enough.
    I have been off the booze for when my wife was pregnant twice and again every Lent (some years).
    It’s a complex one alcohol. Socially, being teetotal is up there with being vegan, gluten intolerant.

  3. johnniethewoodsman · · Reply

    I remember telling my kids that the benefits of alcohol peak at about 23yrs old….so enjoy it whilst young! By benefits, I simply mean the amount of fun/good time you get per drink is at its highest. After 23 you’re more likely to fallout with friends, say what can’t be unsaid and increasingly feel the physical effects. I’m at the stage where alcohol adds nothing but is now a net taker. Started dry January and never felt better so going to do dry Feb aswell. If you listen to sleep expert Matthew Walker, alcohol prevents proper sleep…..I’m sleeping like a lamb!

  4. I’m going to have build up to , i.e. reduce down to, a hard stop on alcohol.
    I know, from previous periods of abstinence, that my sleep will improve greatly when I do.
    When young alcohol didn’t noticeably affect my sleep but now it ruins it, making me wake far too early 😦

  5. […] Maybe I just miss the company of the Lady who is in semi-quarantine at home in her room right now. Maybe I’m feeling down since I’ve not had a drink in 5 days (check this post from the Booze Escape Artist on the merits of the wagon). […]

  6. Less booze is probably the real change I need to make, but you’ve sold me on cold water immersion. Going to start with some cold showers and go from there. Cheers–excellent post!

  7. I’ve heard about these cold water experiences, does a polar plunge have the same affect? I have a friend who swears by them, but I’m still a bit ‘reserved’ about it, but maybe one day I’ll be convinced and it will be a life changer.

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