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A 35-year-old CEO who sold his first startup for $1 billion says he relied on alcohol for years to escape facing his life. Here's why he's giving it up permanently.

Business Insider | Jun 6, 2019, 06.42PM IST

justin kan atrium ceo

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Justin Kan, CEO of Atrium.

  • Justin Kan is a mid-30s entrepreneur who sold his previous startup, Twitch, to Amazon for $1 billion, and has raised millions in VC funding for his current project, the legal startup Atrium.
  • On Twitter, Kan recently explained why he's decided to give up alcohol permanently, even though it's been a big part of his identity since he was in high school.
  • "As a young founder in high-stress situations, I often used alcohol to escape facing things," he wrote.
  • Kan also published a personal guide to Feeling Good after realizing that he's the happiest he's ever been in his adult life.
  • With his permission, we've shared his Tweets about alcohol below, along with the best tips from his Feeling Good guide.
  • Among other things, he suggests committing to five minutes of journaling a day for a week, turning your cell phone to grayscale to reduce its addictiveness, and giving therapy a try.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

I've decided to quit drinking alcohol permanently. This will be a tough challenge for me: Drinking has been a big part of my identity since I was in high school. Unfortunately, it's also been an unhealthy way to avoid being fully in touch with my emotions and my experience of life.

As a young founder in high-stress situations, I often used alcohol to escape facing things. I've struggled with this for a long time, and while I think I've gotten better over time, I believe that this is the last thing preventing me from actualizing my 100% conscious self.

Normally I would keep this private, but I hope for two things here: One, to encourage others who have struggled the same way, and two, to hold myself publicly accountable to my personal commitment.

I've been using the Streaks app to build a habit here (every day I don't drink, I extend the streak). Building a habit with an app has worked really well for me with meditation (93 days straight on Insight Timer!). (Editor's note: At the time of this publishing, Kan has made it to 56 days straight without drinking and 143 days of meditation.)

Screen Shot 2019 06 05 at 1.17.32 PMjustin kan tweet

Twitter, Justin Kan

Personal change is building a practice or habit one day at a time. There are no silver bullets in life. The good news it is possible for anyone to build a new habit.

You can have all the success in the world and still be unhappy or engage in toxic behaviors (and you will not be alone). But it is never too late to make changes in your life. I wish you the very best in your journey.

BTW, I will still meet you for a drink… but I will have soda water.

It seems like there's interest from others in joining me. If anyone is interested in joining a support group chat on Telegram, send me your handle and I'll make one (even if it's just a temporary change for you).

Guide to feeling good

I decided to write this guide because I have been pretty happy recently. I would go as far as to say that I am the happiest I've ever been (in a sustained way) in my adult life, and completely independent of my external circumstances. This is how I've done it.

Note: I started off as a beginner in each of these areas, and personally have relatively low willpower. The following things aren't very hard to do, they just require repetition, consistent reminders, and practice.

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