Anyone who has ever tried to make a positive change has experienced the improvement ripple effect.

Work to cut fixed costs and improve your bottom line, and before you know it you've also streamlined operations and improved sales flow. Work to become a better leader, and before you know it you've also become a better partner and parent. Train to run a marathon, and before you know it you've also improved your eating and sleeping habits. 

Focusing on one thing almost always creates a ripple effect of improvement; after all, if you're training to run a marathon, the last thing you want to do is waste all that hard work by eating poorly and not recovering properly.

(Of course, the opposite is also true: If you're trying to lose weight and you blow your diet at lunch, it's really hard to go to the gym that afternoon. That's why habits are extremely hard to create and really easy to break.) 

And maybe that's why, although it sounds strange, research shows that giving up alcohol for a month -- as some people now do during January -- can result in losing weight, having more energy, sleeping better, and enjoying improved focus and concentration.

Here's what the researchers say about the effects of so-called Dry January:

The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term. There are also considerable immediate benefits: Nine in 10 people save money, seven in 10 sleep better, and three in five lose weight.

Many of us know about the health risks of alcohol -- seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health problems -- but we are often unaware that drinking less has more immediate benefits too.

Sleeping better, feeling more energetic, saving money, better skin, losing
weight ... The list goes on.

Dry January helps millions experience those benefits and make a longer-lasting change to drink more healthily.

I know what you're thinking: There's no way simply taking a month off from drinking alcohol will result in dramatic changes to other aspects of your life. 

Yet here's what study participants said after their Dry January:

  • 93 percent felt a sense of achievement (which is always a good thing)
  • 88 percent saved more money
  • 70 percent felt their health improved
  • 71 felt they slept better
  • 67 percent felt they had more energy
  • 58 percent lost weight
  • 57 percent felt they concentrated better

All of which brings us back to the improvement ripple effect: As the researchers write, "We hear every day from people who took charge of their drinking using Dry January, and who feel healthier and happier as a result."

The key words are "took charge." When you decide to improve something -- when you decide to improve anything -- the act of taking charge of one area of your life naturally extends to other areas of your life.

Simply not drinking for a month will not make you healthier, wealthier, or wiser. The act of deciding not to drink and then following through on that decision is the real key.

To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, an improvement body in motion tends to stay in motion. People who start trying to save money soon find themselves learning to be better investors. People who start a side hustle soon find themselves launching a company.

Even the smallest amount of movement and momentum creates a powerful ripple effect.

Try it. Give Dry January a shot. Remember, though, it's not about the alcohol. It's about choosing not to drink -- and the impact taking charge of one area of your life will have on many other areas of your life.

Which is why you could decide to create your own version of Dry January. Maybe you'll swear off dessert for a month and eat fruit instead. Maybe you'll swear off soda for a month and drink water instead.

Maybe you'll swear off criticizing other people for a month and only choose to say positive things about the people around you.

Start doing one thing that makes your life better, and you'll soon find the improvement ripple effect has, without your even noticing, helped you improve other areas of your life as well.

Can't beat that.

Published on: Jan 4, 2019
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