Woah, we’re half way there
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Livin’ on a prayer

 

I’m sorry for the above Bon Jovi reference & lyrics. I’m now even more sorry for implanting the tune in your head, which you’re now probably humming. Maybe even playing air guitar? If so, stop! The other day, when I realized I had passed the half-way point in the Dry2018 journey, it was the first thing that jumped into my mind. I’m showing my age, I guess, with the choice of song!

In truth, I’m surprised that the half-way marker creeped up on me so quickly. When starting out back in January, 6 full months seemed like a long way off. Never mind the full year. The fact that is has arrived so quickly is definitely a positive sign. And still going strong sans-alcohol is very encouraging. I decided to mark this milestone with another bit of reflection on more learnings & challenges overcome since the 100 days mark was passed (check out the 7 learnings from first 100 days here). For anyone going through a similar year or period without indulging, some of these might resonate. For those of you considering a stint off the booze, they might even be helpful. Just know, it can be done.

The Business Conference

Zwei Bier Bitter Ohne Alcohol

I’ve attend a good few of these over the years. They generally are great fun and excellent for networking. But pretty much have always included some ‘free drinks’ receptions which I would have always taken advantage of. So, when I signed up to attend a Project Management conference in Berlin in early May, there was a mix of excitement about the event as well as a slight anxiety knowing there would likely be ‘networking’ events that involved large German Bierkrugs full of Weissbier just crying out to be drank! As an introvert, the ‘dutch-courage’helps!

I was right, there was free German food, beer & wine. But they also provided some non-alcoholic beers too. And they’re allowed. It still feels more comfortable when in this environment with a beer bottle in your hand, even if it’s not real beer. Having a diet coke in hand just feels wrong. I’m happy to say though, that the event was a great success and as I was recording content for the PMI podcast that put together, that gave me a real reason to chat and network with others. It forced me outside my comfortzone to talk and engage more. Something that I might, no actually, I know I would have used alcohol for in the past.

Best Friends 40th

It’s the year of the 40thBirthday Party and another very close friend was celebrating theirs towards the end of June just gone. This was the first time that I was out with my oldest/longest group of friends since taking up the Dry18 challenge. So, of course, it was going to be another hurdle. Another new experience. My dry 18 partner-in-crime (or in this case zero crime) Richie was in attendance also. That was a good thing. The extra support helped.

#Dry18 Partners Zero-Heroes

Again, there was a sense that it was going to be a challenge. But things are always worse in your own head than what actually happens. That’s how it was here. An added benefit to others was my ability  to play chauffeur on the night. And as the group all were very much up-to-speed with the #Dry18 challenge, it was well respected! Nobody tried to spike our drinks with alcohol. If this was 10 or 20 years earlier, I have a sense we wouldn’t have got a way so lightly.

But how times have changed. As both Richie and I have taken a shine to the Heineken Zero, we actually had to smuggle bottles of it into the bar as it wasn’t being served there. Now, that’s a first. For many a year, as broke students, we might have been guilty of hustling in some cheap vodka from an off-licence into a pub, saving a few €/£ and getting drunk cheap. Now it’s non-alcoholic beer. As you can see from the image, we’re both enjoying it though.

Summer Holiday

Another potential challenge came directly after my friends 40th. The very next morning my girlfriend and I were heading away for a week’s holiday. The first proper break from work so far this year and the first holiday of Dry18. I’d imagine if we selected Ibiza as the destination, the temptation levels would have been a lot higher, but nevertheless, a week off, with nothing to get up for the next morning, and that sense of freedom from responsibility, would have given me the perfect excuse in the past to have a few drinks every day or evening to help me ‘enjoy’ the time off more.

Instead of Ibiza, we opted for Eastbourne. Instead of Techno and Clubbing, we opted for Tennis and Jogging. A nice relaxing week to soak up the sun and digitally detox. Not putting myself in the line of fire either helped for sure. You can still have a great holiday, without having to go wild. And that doesn’t mean going out of your way of having fun. You don’t want to be in the middle of a wild party atmosphere every night. That could only torture yourself. Do some planning & find a balance.

So often in the past, I’d return to work on the Monday after a week off, thinking & feeling that I need another holiday to recover from the one I was just on. Yeah, you know what I mean? This time round, there was none of that. It still didn’t mean I couldn’t wait to get back to work. But at least the extra dread of alcohol withdrawal wasn’t there. It took me a while to listen to my own advice. But it can be done.

Halfway Home
Halfway to Paradise!

For every long run I’ve ever set out on (long would probably be anything over 8 miles), I’ve always found the first half mentally more challenging than the second. Even though I’d be fresher and have more energy. But as soon as I just get to that half-way point, I feel different. I’ve turned the proverbial corner and I’m now on the homeward stretch, even if that is still 13.1 miles when in marathon mode. It feels like every step I take I’m getting closer to home and, psychologically, that gives me more impetus. It’s just something I’ve always noticed when running. So, I thought, now that I’m on the return leg of Dry18, that it would might like that too.

To be honest, it doesn’t. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, the reason it’s not such a big relief is because I don’t have that same sense of struggle as I do when running long distances. So, as a result, I’m not getting that great sense of relief that I’ve turned the corner and am homeward bound.

Don’t get me wrong either. It’s great that I’ve less days now to do, than I’ve already done. It’s just not as momentous as I thought that half-way mark was going to be when I started out!

The rise of the not-drinking culture? 

The first 100 days were definitely harder than the last 80 or so. As I wrote in the first 100 days post back in April, a number of interesting insights emerged during this period. It was a time of adjustment, pushing myself outside the comfortzone in many ways and experience things in a new light.

Since then, despite my concerns over the summer coming, longer days, beer garden weather, and the world cup football feast coming at me, all of which would have been ingredients that would make for a great day/night’s boozing, it’s been pretty easy going. My levels of social unease when not boozing has dropped and I’m not overthinking these nights out as much as I was at the start.

Taking this beer break has been great. I’ve gained confidence, my blood sugars are in better shape, I can predict with near certainty what I’ll do the next morning and how I’ll feel, and I’ve even been able to share the learnings with folks from other places through these blog posts and with the Alcohol Concern UK group. If any of the above words and insights help someone else on their own expedition, then that’s awesome too.

I’ve also started to notice a lot more non-alcoholic betters and even an alcohol free Gin hitting the shelves. Could there be a bit of a movement starting to move away from drinking too much? I read somewhere about another sober campaigner who is  trying ‘to make not drinking cool’. That’s not my goal, but there certainly seems to be an emerging trend towards a less reliance on it. And that’ is such a good thing. Till the next one. Cheers!


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of strategy and business operations with Dell IT in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics. 

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With the new podcast launch finally here. I felt it only right and fair to post a quick piece to explain it!

I read so many articles, tweets, blogs, posts, and comments that start with ‘I’m delighted to share’, or ‘I’m so excited to say’, or perhaps  ‘It’s my great pleasure to’ and so on and so forth. If you’re like me, sometimes you might wonder if they really mean it? or is it just to add dramatic impact? Anyway, with that being said, I’d like to say I’m thrilled (genuinely) to be launching the new podcast titled The 864. It’s been in the works for a while and it’s great to be putting it out there.

Some background

When I started out this podcasting adventure, at very beginning of 2017, my aim was to interview 10, 20, maybe 30 people that had a good story to tell and share it out. I wanted to dig into real people’s careers and, hopefully, extract some interesting views and lessons learned that could be of value to others (and myself). I also was very hopeful to discover if, during these conversations, the guests themselves took something positive away from it too. As a coach, allowing another person just talk and be listened to is a powerful thing.

As I write this, I’ve recorded over 75 1% Better episodes and I’ve just released episode #65. I’m into a ‘season 2’ and still learning lots! It’s been a great privilege so far. And it’s continuing, which is great.

 

Joe Rogan Marathon Podcast!

Marathon

From the outset, my focus was on longer form interviews. Typically around the hour mark. Definitely longer than thirty minutes. Some up to nearly two hours! While I do listen to some even longer, I figured those marathons might be just too much for others to keep hooked into. As the show evolved, and I found a rhythm, the conversations definitely improved. As did I. The longer the chat went on, the more good stuff came out. As the natural rapport developed, we’d get deeper into the topic and time would fly!  

Is there value in the ‘sprint’ show?

Sprint

Getting direct feedback from listens can be tough. Not tough to take, but tough to get. So when a listener does take the time to get in touch, I always enjoy hearing what they like or don’t like about the show. The one piece of feedback was around the duration. The long form is not everyone’s cup of tea. Shorter episodes would be more consumable during the daily commute. Longer form are great but sometimes a listener would forget to come back to finish it off. By the time they did, another show could be released. It got me thinking.

What to do?

So, after season one ended, I took some time off and planned out what I could do for 2018 to meet both audiences. The 1% Better show was doing well and I had already lined up 20+ guests for season two. How could I make a shorter show work and still be of value. And, if possible, align to the 1% Better theme.  I got my thinking cap on. With an element of project management & a calculator, I laid out the requirements.

  • A Shorter show – around the 15 minute mark!
  • Still aligned to the 1% Better concept
  • Worth doing with useful information, advice & tips

That’s where the 864 came into play! Allow me to explain.

Early versions of the 864 logo!

In every day or 24 hours, we have 86400 seconds. 1% of that is 14 minutes 24 seconds. Or, in seconds, 864. When I landed on this first, I had to redo the calculations. A few times. It didn’t sound right.  That 864 second was 1% of a day. But it is. Based on the way we recognise space and time at least. That felt like it could work. A Podcast to suit the shorter format. In 864 seconds, or roughly 15 minutes. It’s 1% of your day. Aimed at making you 1% Better.

I’m a disaster for making decisions on names. But sometimes things fall into place nicely. This was the case here.

 

 

 

The story so far!

Disclaimer now before I go further. My aim is to keep every conversation as close as possible to the 864 seconds mark! I’ve even used a countdown timer for some of the shows!  So far that’s been difficult. I’ve recorded 10 shows and a couple have gone a minute or two over. But the timebound nature of the chat keeps things moving. I’m keeping the intros short and then it’s straight into the conversations with the guests.

It’s been very interesting so far. I’ve recorded episodes with some internationally & nationally well-known names. Some big hitters in their own fields. With the shorter show, it’s impossible to get too deep into the guests backstory. So we’re just focusing on a couple of key topics in each one. There is variety with entrepreneurship, business, money management, marketing, PR, sales, broadcasting, podcasting and the writing process just some of the emerging subjects so far. It’s been lots of fun.

As is the case with the 1% Better podcast, I try to ensure that in every single episode, there is, at the very least, one key takeaway that is of value to you, either personally or professionally. Ideally both and ideally more than just one thing! That’s my own personal goal for this new show. And to enjoy it along the way.

Wrap up!

So that’s the story behind it. The 864 is live as I hit publish on this post. The intro show (ep1) is out now (listen here)and the Profit First conversation with Mike Michalowicz are available will be live on the site on Friday 29th June. I plan to roll out a few more each week over the next few weeks and see how it evolves and grows from here. Hopefully, with your feedback and input, this new experiment is worth it.

I really do hope you enjoy the show on your commute, short jog, walk, etc. And if you do, I’d be delighted (I mean it…swear) if you’d take a couple of seconds to done or all of the following:

Before you go…may I ask for your support? 

To help get The 864 into the ears of others, it would be great if you took a few minutes to do any or all of the below.

  1. Subscribe to the show on ApplePodcast – just click here
  2. Leave a Review & Rating – here’s how do it – https://strategiccontent.co/leave-rating-review-itunes/
  3. Follow RoboftheGreen on the socials and help get the word out by twitter, facebook posting, instagramming or LinkedInering
  4. Sign up to the weekly newsletter and share that link out too – SIGN UP HERE
  5. Using the ancient practice of spoken word, maybe tell someone about it over a chat and a coffee!
  6. If you do like the longer form show and haven’t heard the 1% Better podcast, check it out here or on iTunes here

Thank you so much for reading the post. I hope you do listen and enjoy the content.

Make it a great day,

Rob

I had always planned to write about my experiences (or lack of) while going through the Dry18 challenge. I’d have a bit more time on my hands, so decided early on to keep a journal along the way! Initially, it was for my eyes only. When I put together the first 100 days piece, it was more for me than anyone else. I very nearly didn’t post it at all. I always tend to have that internal battle, the voice inside the head shouting at me, providing me with many reasons not to. I experienced the same sense of resistance before releasing podcasts or videos too sometimes. But, I can’t let that stop me, and I’m glad I didn’t again with that piece.

The response from it was, and still is, very positive. It’s always nice to hear from friends that it connected with. It’s also nice to hear from people you don’t know that it resonated with too. In many ways, that’ even more powerful. So, when Maddy Lawson, from Alcohol Concern UK got in touch, to say the article was something they’d like to share, I was delighted. It made it all worthwhile. Even better, Maddy asked if me I’d be interested in putting out a series of posts over the rest of the year on the Dry18 adventure. I was delighted to oblige. She suggested that I start with one that gives a bit more detail on my backstory and why give up alcohol at all. So, I put together the following piece to give some context on my ‘why’. I hope you enjoy it.


My relationship with alcohol has been what you might call quintessentially Irish in nature. I don’t drink Guinness (often), but ‘the drink’ has been part of my life for a long time.

I think I had my first drink at the age of 16. The guilt of breaking my confirmation pledge still sometimes floats into my mind (and has just now as I write this). For the first year, it was the occasional alcopop on a Saturday night (didn’t like the taste of anything else). Then one night, that all changed. I was introduced to whiskey. That was the first night that I got ‘drunk’.

For the following 23 or so years, alcohol has always been a part of my life – sometimes a big part. Too big. It was a prominent feature during my college nights (and sometimes mornings) in Galway. Throughout the rest of my twenties nights out, weddings, holidays, and any other social occasion always had a ‘session’ at the epicentre. Even sporting activities, like playing for my local football team, where you’d think getting and keeping fit was the main objective, had booze as a key component. We would often celebrate victories (and defeats) after the match on the Saturday, often into the Sunday, and I seem to recall a couple of Mondays too. Hardcore.

Somehow, I was able to juggle a busy work life with the busier social life and, for the vast majority of the time, I kept the show on the road.

I’m not hungover, I just got something in my eye!

While all this was ‘only a bit of fun’, the pain of the recovery after a heavy weekend, where I may not feel 100% again until Wednesday or Thursday, was outweighing the fun. That was a sign, but one that I mostly chose to ignore until I hit my thirties. I didn’t have the self-awareness to realise, or maybe the confidence to make the change.

Then in 2008, I did. Job cuts where I worked, with the Big Crash looming, gave me an opportunity to leave with a few €uros in my pocket. I hit reboot, moving jobs and cities. My relationship with alcohol started to change too. Sure, they say don’t run away from your challenges, but sometimes a change of environment does help. And it did for me.

Flash forward to 2017. I’d been living in Cork nine great years. I had settled in great with the city, the people and the culture. Work was fulfilling and I was in good place. I had made a lot of positive adjustments in my life, running half marathons, cycling and eating better. Developing a practice for Meditation was a big deal for me too. Lots more on that on the blog page.

Over the years, my relationship with drinking had softened but never completely stopped. There were still a few occasions each year when I’d drink far too much, and I’d feel demotivated and down for a few days as a result. As someone who loves to get the most of my time outside of work, being hungover on a Sunday had a double negative impact on my mood; not only was I feeling like crap as a result of the booze, I was missing out on getting good stuff done in my time off!

I had often contemplated going off drink 100%, but never been able to commit. But as my own life was getting busier, I just had no time for or interest in spending any time with a hangover. Developing Type 1 Diabetes at 35 was an additional wake-up call. I had a lot of incentives to make me want to quit. I just needed do some experimenting.

Dry January is a Great place to start!

First up was Dry January in 2017. That was a relative breeze. I came through with flying colours. I learned that going dry wasn’t so bad – the opposite in fact.

Then, on the weekend of my 40thbirthday in November 2017, despite great fun and celebrations, I knew there was gloom and doom lurking around the corner. After two days/nights ‘enjoying’ myself, I felt like enough was enough. As we wrapped up the Sunday night, my friend Richie and I started to pick into the ridiculousness of our boozing and how it would impact our mood for the next few days. Richie started to explain how he heard a guy on the radio the week before detailing how he had given up drink two years earlier.

So, as this conversation developed, both Richie and I started to play with the idea of going off drink. Before we knew it, the idea of a Dry18 was born. Both of us are pretty stubborn so when we make a commitment, we tend to stick with it. We added in some financial incentives that a charity would gain from if either of us were to break. The bet, even though made after numerous pints, gave me a lift.

And so it came to be, that, at midnight on 31 December 2017, Dry 18 officially came into being. It felt right. I like to set goals at the start of every year and try to make them SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound. This one had all of these ingredients (even if my friends and family questioned the ‘achievable’ part). Plus I had a big incentive: zero days wasted in 2018 as a result of a hangover.

Testing SMART Goals to the limit

While the goal was exciting, I was under no illusion that it would be easy. Jumping from 31 days in January to 365 days is a bit of a leap. But I wanted the challenge and knew it would be the perfect year to try this out. With huge optimism, and a clear plan of attack for the year in place, I was ready for 2018. Time to walk the walk.

The article is posted on the Alcohol Concern blog page also here.


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics. Rob is currently a director of strategy and business operations with Dell IT in Cork, Ireland.

Connect with Rob via,email, twitter, Facebook or his website.

Check out all the great work that Alcohol Research UK are doing here

The 11th April 2018 marked the 100th day of 2018! During that period, we’ve experienced (in Ireland at least) the #BeastfromtheEast 1, 2 & 3 (was there a 4th ?) and a winter that seems to have lasted for roughly 18 months. It’s not all been bad though. For me, it marked a milestone on my #Dry18 challenge. To go 365 Days without any beer, wine, or any other alcohol related tipple. I’ve had some positive new learnings and experiences too. So, I decided to mark the first 100 days of the journey with a retrospective on what I’ve learned since I had my last sip of beer (at around 8:32pm) on 31st December 2017. With #DryJanuary in 2017  being a relatively easy month, I decided to over 10X that and go for the full year. I felt I knew what to expect. I was still curious to see how though the first few months would turn out to be. In no particular order of significance, here are 7 stand-out observations and learnings.

  1. The forbidden fruit (in this case drink) must NOT be tasted!

First off, I’m still on track. Over 100 days done. I’ve learned I can do this. I was very staunchly no-beer from the outset. I even considered non-alcoholic beer off the table at the start of the year. But after consulting with  my #Dry18 partner, Richie McCaffrey, who felt non-alcoholic beer was ‘ok’, I allowed it. You’re probably thinking ‘it’s non-alcoholic’ but there is still a trace of a percentage in some of the ones out there. A barman reassured me that there was a similar amount of alcohol in mouthwash. These guys know what they’re talking about. So, while there have been a number of times that the temptation was there, at no point did I give in. I now know I can do this. Well, the first 100 days part at least.

  1. We talk about drinking A LOT!

When I wasn’t on a self-imposed alcohol ban, it never struck me how often alcohol or drinking comes up in conversation. It’s just not something I was that aware of when it wasn’t off the table. But, when you’re dry, you begin to hear how intertwined it is in conversation and how much it’s a key part of socializing. Maybe I’m stating the obvious. It’s certainly amplified when it’s off-limits. It’s somewhat analogous to the situation you might find yourself in when looking for a new car. You identify a model that takes your fancy. One weren’t aware existed before. Now you have this awareness of it and, ever since, it’s the only car you see on the road. They are, literally, everywhere. Ok, what is called the ‘frequency illusion‘ maybe a poor analogy here, but my learning is that drink is still very much engrained in our consciousness. It may have been even more focal 10 years ago. Before the coffee shop boom, the pubs, instead of Starbucks, were busy on a Tuesday evening. That’s progress I guess.

  1. Three Perspectives

So, I have to be clear. At the point of starting out on the #dry18 challenge, I considered myself very much in control of my alcoholic consumption. Much more so than I was 10 years ago. So, going into it, my reasons for doing it were more to squeeze more out of my days and weekends than to detox. However, so far, it’s been very interesting to see what others reaction to is has been. I’ve generally observed three responses.

The most common reactions was a raised eyebrow and a sense that the person I was talking with might have thought I had a problem upon hearing I was ‘off the drink’. At which point, I’d find myself having to give a detailed explanation as to why I’m doing it. I noticed I was having to be explicit and clarify that I didn’t have a drinking problem. That seemed to be the default place many folks were going to when hearing I was giving it up for the year.  The irony here is that I’d never been more in control of alcohol intake than I was leading up to the crafting of the bet.

The second most common response was it’s just a bad idea in general! To deprive yourself of a relaxing wine or beer over a meal or at the weekend doesn’t make sense to a good section of those I know. When you’re in control of it already, why deprive yourself? Fair point & one I’m probably in most alignment with now!

The third and final category turned out to be more frequent than I expected. Those that think it’s a great idea and have confided in me that it’s something that they’d love to do themselves. It’s probably the stage of life many are at. Around the 40 mark and keen to curtail or stop drinking altogether. That the downside or after effects outweigh the upside of a few drinks being the general view.

It’s been interesting to see these different perspectives. Even in this short time, I’ve become a lot more relaxed saying ‘no thanks, I’m on the dry’, without having to give the backstory. Progress for sure.

  1. Freedom through Commitment

For the last 22+ years, my self-imposed ban probably lasted 4-5 weeks max. Prior to Dry January in 2017, I hadn’t abstained much. So, going into the start of the year, I was interested to see how this experiment would play out. What I’ve learned about my own decision making over the last few years has played out again with this challenge. It can take me a long time to make a decision or commit to something. Especially when it’s a big one. But once I made a decision, and also opt to tell everyone I know about it (whether they care or not), it really ups my level of accountability to it.

This has been very true for #Dry18. Without question, I’ve had a few really shit days so far in 2018. Days that would have, in 2017, 100% lead to a bottle of red wine in the evening, just because I could. No real justification needed either. With that choice off the table, I just had to look for an alternative activity to focus on. Which I did. That has been a big learning. Maybe validation is a better word.

  1. St. Patricks Day Overthinking! 

Probably the most notorious day in the Irish drinking calendar is that of our patron Saint, Patrick. The 17th of March is typically the day where a large percentage of our population celebrate. It’s a day for the pubs and a lot of Guinness or whatever your favourite tipple might be. Some even manage to get drunk twice in the same day. So, it was to be expected that I’d see this as the first big challenge to my 2018 sobriety.

As it transpired, this St. Patrick’s Day was to be a 4-pronged attack. I had a Friend’s 40th Birthday to attend. If that wasn’t bad enough, the location was to be Galway. Anyone that has been to the city of the tribes knows that it’s not a quiet place. Finally, to really put the icing on the cake, the Irish Rugby team were playing their last game of their Grand Slam winning 6 Nations against the old enemy England. Kicking off. At 2:30pm. On St. Patricks day. The 4-leafed clover was complete. Arriving in Galway in time for the match kick-off meant I had a solid 10 hours in packed pubs ahead. I had this already played out in my head as a big struggle!

My anxiety levels were at their highest in the minutes after arriving into the packed pub before the game started. In truth, even when I was drinking, these initial moments would always have been somewhat uneasy. Being more on the introverted side, a crowed bar in the early afternoon would make me a little edgy. In the past, I’d have masked this with a couple of quick pints in the first hour to ‘settle in’ to the atmosphere. That was the norm. This time around, I had a couple of non-alcoholic beers, and started to chat one-to-one. I must say the placebo effect of just having what looked like a beer in my hand helped. As the day progressed, I was expecting a lot more push back on being the ‘non-drinker’ of the group. It wasn’t to be the case. It was proving to be easier than I’d expected. Come 6pm on St. Patrick’s day, you start to see the first wave of drunkenness emerge. Many out since noon start hitting the wall. It was a sight to behold and was nice to be on the other side of that for a change.

As the night came to an end, and after switching from zero percent Pauliner to Apple juice, I decided to make what’s known as an Irish-Goodbye! As I left the pub, the party was still in full-swing. I had survived the day. Survived might be too strong a word. I enjoyed a lot of it to be fair. And had made the effort to be there for my mate. We all are keen to do the right thing and keep everyone happy. But it’s key to make sure you’re happy first. Nobody else really can do that for you. I had built up this day in my mind for a few weeks as the first real big test! I am often guilty of overthinking things and this one of these occasions. Anyone could try to hide away for a year but then that wouldn’t really have tested out the experiment. Galway on St. Patricks day could be considered an extreme test. But it was one I learned a lot from.

  1. The Fear still exists.  Just way less.

As I’ve progressed in years, my resilience or ability to recover from a night out or an ‘all day session’ that many of us have been on, has taken many steps backward. You might remember the time when you could socialize two nights at the weekend and be fresh on the Monday. Well, for me at least, those days/nights are long gone! Over the last few years, one night out would take me a few days to recover, and it would need to be a Friday night, so I’d be able to fully function again by Monday. Physically, I’d be pretty ok. Emotionally and Mentally, I’d be fragile. What is known as the fear is just not fun at all. So, I was very much looking forward to not experiencing this phenomenon in 2018.

What I’ve learned here has been interesting. In the past number of years, I would have blamed a moody Monday or even a terrible Tuesday on an excessive night out over the previous weekend. I’d give myself an extra hard time over those days and resolve ‘never again’ and all that goes with that self-defeating attitude. Since the 1st of January, I can now say that sometimes the Mondays or Tuesdays (or even Wednesdays or Thursdays) can still be tough. Never full on fear but still be dotted with anxiety, stress and mild overwhelm. My default, in the past, was to blame it on partying at the weekend. This would/could spiral into self-defeating territory again. Now, with that variable out of the equation, I’ve concluded that it’s ok sometimes not to feel ok. That’s part of being human. Bad days will come. Just accept it and move on.

  1. Win the morning with the rule of 3!

Over the years, wasting mornings, days and time in general has become a big annoyance for me! The older I’ve become; the more appreciation I have for the time I have and how much I can get done with it! So, without doubt, one of the benefits I was expecting and looking forward to with zero days wasted during 2018 was that of increasing productivity and learning new things.

In the last few months, I’ve been able to stick to my morning routine without fail. This has been hugely satisfying. Not only have I been able to get up at 6am (5am for April as it’s the April Challenge), I’ve developed a habit of getting real/deep work done every morning before leaving the house for the day job. This really sets me on fire for the day ahead. I’ve developed a habit, which I’m calling the rule of 3, and it’s paying great dividends. 3 tasks before leaving the house. 2/3 are typically the same and one varies. Like writing this! This has been a big win. Consistently getting stuff done and winning the morning.

#Dry18 is my BHAG for the year (check out my post on goals for the years from December here) and, as I finalise this piece, I’m well into the century. Overall, I’ve been surprised at how smooth it’s been to cut it out. Not easy but totally worth it! In the vast majority of cases, I’ve received great support and words of encouragement. I wanted to challenge myself, first and foremost, to see what life, especially nights out and social events, would be like without any alcohol as the focal point. I wanted to learn or maybe re-learn how to actually have fun and enjoy myself when I’m out completely free of alcohol. It’s been an eye-opening experience so far. Almot 1/3 of the way through, and with the summer sunshine, beer gardens, cold cider, vacations, and many more temptations coming in the next 100 days, I’m sure new challenges and learnings are ahead! Maybe it’s a good thing after all that Ireland didn’t qualify for the World Cup in Russia!

One nice observation that has come in just in the last couple of days is that I seem happier. Much like meditation and it’s benefits, I think others close to you see changes before you do. Upon hearing it, and taking a moment to process it, I would have to agree. That would be number 8 and probably the most important if I could dare include it.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something from it too!


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of strategy and business operations with Dell IT in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics. 

Connect in with Rob on the socials or via email on the links below:

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You’ve set the alarm clock 20 minutes early, and, as soon as it kicks fully into gear, you jump out of bed with a clear intention and laser focus. ‘I’m doing some mindfulness this morning,’ you remind yourself and reaffirm that ‘it’s going to be great!’.

The night before you’ve done the prep work. You’ve identified a nice quiet room, or at least the perfect space in one, already set the heating to come on so it’s not too cold, and you feel like you’re ready for what is to come – nothing less than blissful, in the moment, calm stillness!

You enter the room and ready yourself. You’re sitting up, holding a good posture, or, even, lying down, but focused (you’ve read or heard from a previous meditation guru that both were ‘allowed’). You’re determined. All Set. Ready to do some real good meditation.

You pick out a nice short 10-minute guided meditation that you were recommended. All geared up to really get ‘into the moment’, to ‘concentrate on your breathing’, and just ‘be’! For the next 10 minutes, you’re going to totally let go. No doing. No rushing. Just you and a blankness. Tranquillity. Nothingness. The instructions begin, you close your eyes, take a deep breath in…….and…you’re there!

Cue internal dialogue….

“Breathe in….breathe out…..

breathe in….breathe out…..

breathe in……this is going great…breathe out….oh I forgot to put the wash on….oh…damm…

breathe in….breath out……breathe in…breathe…out….aaaah…my back is sore….I need to move….oh…I’ve lost it….

breathe in….breathe out……..maybe I’ll start counting…..breathe in……1….breathe out….2……breathe in….3…breathe out…..4…..oh can’t believe it’s Sunday morning already……where did the weekend….I must..ahh…

breathe in…4…was it 5?? breathe out….this so hard…why can’t I do this properly…..I’m useless at this……ahhh”

Does this look/sound a little familiar? If so, don’t worry. It’s pretty much what’s going on in my own head, nearly all the time when I meditate. You’re not alone. Self-commentary is normal. Especially so when you start out.

Before writing this piece this morning, I completed a 20-minute meditation session. It’s mid-February 2018 and, for the last 6 weeks or so, I’ve been experimenting with a new technique. New for me, but one that’s very much a mainstay in traditional meditation practices. A chanting based meditation (yes, I’ve gone there!!). I set myself the goal of sticking with it for the full 31 days of January. I know it takes time to get ‘into’ the practice when you change around what your approach is. I’ve decided to continue with it for a while longer just to really give it a good go and see if it’s for me or not. It was difficult, at first, to get into the chanting part, but that self-consciousness and embarrassment fades away quickly…after a few sessions anyway. Ok, maybe 10 sessions.

Prior to starting into this morning’s session, I set the intention to take mental notes during the sitting and log the random stuff that came into my mind during it. While it’s not something I’d advise to do on a regular meditation, for the purposes of this research, it was fine! The thoughts are always going to come in any way, so it was just about looking at them for what they were and take note.

So, while I silently, and at some stages, out loud, chanted the Ohms & Ahms during the 20 minutes, I made an extra effort to be aware of what thoughts, images, and sounds did come to, and pass through, my awareness. Straight after, I tried to recall as many as I could and brain dump these. The results are below, in no particular order. My own internal commentary or dialogue flowed something like this:

“Right, focus on the Ohm…..Ok, I’m in a new sitting position now….

back to the Ohm….I don’t think I like this position…I need to get my back straight against the table…..

back to the Ohm….ok that’s good. I can still feel the pain in my left hip but that’s better…maybe I’ll focus on the pain part as I heard that is a good thing to put your attention on….

back to the Ohm…….this is going to be a busy week…..god my mind is wandering again…..wouldn’t this be a good thing to write a blog piece about….

 ok back to the Ohm…….I must get that Q&A email back to Pat…..that event was good yesterday…….Meryl Streep was great in ‘The Post’……god I’m wandering again…..

 back to the Ohm…….I can’t believe I’ve been doing this type for the last 4 weeks…..is it having any benefit??…..I think I prefer the silent meditation with just breathing and following your breath….god…lost it again…

 back to the Ohm……I wonder how much time is gone….I’m settled in now…my hip isn’t sore…….what time is it?……on I’m going to really concentrate now on the ohm and count to 50 while I do it…..

 back to the Ohm……how far did I get??…god…I lost it after two ohms…….Rob..that’s your ego giving you a hard time….relax….I can feel muscles in my face are tense….what about my back?……aaah..

 back to the Ohm…….”

See just how busy my mind is too! My monkey mind jumping about from place to place. You get the message!! Writing out the above really shows me (and hopefully you) how much is going on in the mind when you observe it. The ‘back to the Ohm’ piece for me was when I realised I had wandered or strayed from the focus point. Which, as you can see, was happening very regularly and within seconds of each other. Literally.

When I started out a few years ago, the above chatter was definitely there, and frustrating. But in a different way. During most of the 10-minute sittings early on in my practice, I noticed I’d wander away from the breath a few times during it. Yet, as the weeks and months went by, I started to notice more frequent wanderings. This was a source of great frustration for me. It seemed like I was regressing rather than ‘getting better’ at meditation. What was happening? What was I doing wrong? Was I a failure? Was it just not for me?

In actual fact, it was the opposite. In those early sessions, I wasn’t aware I had wandered off that often, mainly because I had predominantly just been thinking about the day ahead, the day just gone by, or in some cases events that happened years ago that I could do nothing about now. It really is funny that stuff that we think of when we start to notice it.

Actually, I was spending very little time just being present and focused on what I was doing right there and then. Instead, I was lost in my thoughts. Not really being mindful at all. The fewer ‘back to the breaths’ essentially meant I was just day-dreaming with my eyes closed.

‘I finally figured out how to do this. It only took me 2000 years!’ Buddha (not actual quote from the Buddha)

The big lightbulb moment for me came when I did some online searching to see if I was unique with this sense of frustration. I found that it’s was actually quite normal. What I’d been experiencing was a common ‘complaint’ for newbie meditators like myself. It makes total sense when you’re made aware of it. As a benefit of the regular practice, I was catching my wandering thoughts quicker than before. Instead of being lost for minutes, it was for just seconds. So, the 50 ‘back to the breath’ connections instead of the 25 was progression! 100% better if you wanted to put a measure on it. It all made sense. Maybe there was something in this after all!

The purpose of this short piece was really to give you just a little window into my own busy mind and to show that these random thoughts are absolutely normal during a meditation session. In fact, if you’re not having these or not aware of them, you might be doing something wrong (or you’re just naturally approaching enlightenment). The key learning here is to know that this is normal. That when you sit and attempt to be for the period of time you’ve given yourself, these thoughts will come and go. Another learning for me, that I didn’t believe at the start, was that you’re not really in control of your own thoughts, despite that fact you think you are! We don’t control our thoughts…..if we did, then why are you thinking of a Pink Elephant right now? Thoughts are easily planted by others or by your own subconscious.

So just let them come and go, detach and be aware. And don’t give yourself a hard time about it. Stick with it, make it a habit, don’t set your expectations too high, and see how things develop over the first few months. Hopefully knowing this, especially in the early days, will give you some relief and silence the negative self-talk a little bit too.

I really enjoy writing these pieces and sharing them in the hope that others read, enjoy and even get some tangible benefit from it. I absolutely encourage feedback, comments, and additional ideas or suggestions to add to what I said. I have developed thick skin so don’t be shy!

Thanks for reading,

Rob

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Rob is a qualified Executive Coach and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of strategy and business operations with Dell IT in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, goal setting, meditation, and other topics. 

Connect in with Rob on the socials or via email on the links below:

Email   Twitter  Facebook  Website

Subscribe to the Rob of the Green Newsletter Here

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