images-2My old self and my new self came face to face last weekend in Amsterdam.

In many ways Amsterdam is the antithesis of how I lead my life today.

Streets full of smoke-filled cafes; drunken twenty somethings scattered amongst Japanese tourists peering curiously at the naked women promoting themselves (literally) in shop windows!

images-3As for the food, well, let’s just say that if you don’t like cheese, bread and meat, you may go hungry! Although in fairness, there’s plenty of vegetables, fruits and nuts available.

The last time I was in Amsterdam, I was a very different person in many ways. At that time, I too, was a drunken twenty something who sat in the smoky bars eating hash cake, smoking weed and drinking very strong beer!

Life was definitely fun as I relished the opportunity to experience new things in life.

Let’s focus on smoking just for a moment. We all know that smoking is a habit that could reduce the quality of your life, with emphysima affecting 1/3 of smokers, so the chances of getting a lung disease is very high. So why do people chose to smoke?

Research provides many answers to this question, but it also shows that it’s a personal choice. They decide that they want to give up and they succeed, replacing the habit with something else. If they start again, that’s their choice to.

I certainly relate to this, so let me share my own experience. Whilst I used to smoke cigarettes from time to time, I would never have described myself as a smoker (although that’s what I was), and really believed that I was in control and could stop whenever I wanted to.

For me, that Stop sign came when I was on the West Coast of Ireland. I had smoked a lot the night before and had terrible pains in my chest. However, I was still craving a cigarette!

images-4I look around at the scene in front of me. It was a sunny day and young children playing on the beach. There was a wonderful vibrance about the scene, and yet I felt in the shadows. I was only 25, but at that moment propelled myself a few years into the future and didn’t like the vision I saw before me!

I wanted to be part of the vibrant scene and not sit in the shadows. I needed to change and I had to take back control of my health and my life.

So that day was a huge turning point for me. I haven’t smoked a cigarette since that day which was almost 20 years ago now. Instead I poured my energies into developing new, healthy habits that are so embedded in my life and have served me so very well.

So, having said all of this, back to last week. Was I tempted to relive my youth in Amsterdam?

In truth, in some ways YES, because sitting in bars eating hash cake and smoking cigarettes can be fun. The problem is that there’s always a price to pay and these days I’d much prefer to be sitting in a juice bar than a coffee shop!

Is that boring? 20 years ago, i would have thought ‘yes’. But not today.

So what about you!

  • Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.
  • On the left half, list all of your daily habits that are not serving you particularly well; and on the right half, list all of the habits that are positively enhancing your wellbeing.
  • Now focus on the left hand column and imagine your life 3 years from now, what does it look like if you continue to do those things?

Let me know by leaving a comment below, and if you need help to change, just let me know.