When I decided to change my drinking habits, I was fed up with feeling bad about myself when it came to alcohol.

Change is uncomfortable.

We get into habits because it’s easier to keep doing the same thing.

I got to a tipping point.

Tired of feeling shame about unflattering moments at professional events. Like that time I was at a conference, in a fancy bar at a five-star hotel surrounded by a large number of colleagues, dropped my martini, shattering the glass, and when straight to the bar for another without batting an eye.

I wince when I think of it now. To be honest, I’d forgotten about it until months later a judge reminded me about it. Ugh.

Beating myself up for being a bad parent. Like when I had my now husband over to dinner to introduce him to my children while we were dating I heard my youngest say, “Just wait ‘til she’s had two glasses of wine. Then you can do whatever you want.”

Worrying about doing further damage to my already compromised heart. My cardiologist admonished me to not drink and I did anyway. Like when he told me I was a binge drinker after I described how many drinks I’d had the weekend before.

The worst part? I was skipping out on myself and my dreams.

I’d told myself this lie that I couldn’t take time for myself and pursue the life I wanted because of family and work obligations. I’d painted this picture of myself in my head as sort of a stoic, self-sacrificing martyr working mom.

Yes, I had three children. Yes, I single-handedly ran my own successful law practice. I had parents. Extended family. So what?

In actuality, I spent a great deal of time on alcohol that I could have been using to be more productive or to simply enjoy myself.

My time wasters: Drinking. Being tipsy (or drunk). Feeling tired and groggy from not sleeping due to drinking the night before. Recovering the day after. Beating myself up for overdrinking. Planning/arranging/anticipating the next time I’d drink.

Change is uncomfortable. We make changes when we realize what we’re doing is causing more discomfort than the discomfort of doing something different.

I got pretty uncomfortable when I tallied the hours I was wasting on alcohol and I looked at my life the way it was. It was not how I wanted to view my future.

Ever think about exactly how many hours are you spending planning drinking activities, shopping for drinking, actually drinking, being under the influence, feeling bad physically/recovering from drinking, and beating yourself up about drinking?

I’m sure I was in the double digits weekly.

I was trading taking care of and enjoying myself, and others, and pursuing my interests, for ALCOHOL. Hours and hours and hours of alcohol.

Consider taking time to get clear about what alcohol is costing you.

Pick one that feels really strong. Then focus on that the next time you’re deciding to drink or not, have another or not.

What are your top reasons for stopping or cutting back?

—Julie Ernst, CCJD

P.S. Visit www.julieernst.com to take my free course: Stop Overdrinking in 3 Steps.