“I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,”
― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
It’s been exactly 21 days since I challenged myself to take a break from coffee. But, before I tell you all about my 21-day journey (and still counting) without one of the most aromatic and delicious drinks in the world; I’ll tell you a brief history on my coffee drinking habits.
My love for coffee really started about five years ago. It became a routine for me to drink it, and after some time, it felt as if I needed to have a cup EVERY single morning no matter what before starting my day (I’m sure a lot of you can relate). I’ve never abused coffee; at most I’ve had three cups in one day. But after 5 years of drinking it consecutively every morning and with the start of the New Year, I wanted to challenge myself to see how long I could really go without a single cup.
My family thought I wouldn’t make it more than a week and with that, I became even more determined to try and break my habit.
The first week was the most challenging. On the first day, I woke up in the morning and substituted my cup of coffee with a cup of decaffeinated hot tea. Two hours later I was craving coffee again, and throughout my entire first day, I continued to reach out for a bottle of water at the first thought of coffee.
The second day was painstakingly similar; I craved coffee all day long and found myself instead, drinking water. I was pretty impressed because I was substituting coffee for water. And we need to drink as much water as we can throughout the day right? Score one for me!
One week turned into two, two turned into three, and I have found ways to control and substitute my coffee cravings by drinking more water and decaffeinated tea. Did I mention that I don’t visit Starbucks as often anymore either? Which as you can imagine, is saving me a decent amount of money considering a small cup of coffee there runs you about $4 dollars each.
Good habits or bad habits, the truth is that for most of us, they are extremely difficult to break. According to Charles Duhigg: The Power Of Habit The reason we form habits is called the habit loop. I’m not diving deep into this subject, but understanding how this neurological loop and its elements work can also allow you to easily break away from unwanted habits.
Here it goes:
The habit loop consists of three elements: a cue, a routine, and a reward.
- The cue is basically anything that triggers the habit
(My trigger was I need coffee to wake up in the morning)
- The routine is the element, the habit itself that you want to reinforce
(Or in my case change, which was drinking coffee every morning)
- The reward is the positive reinforcement for your habit
(For me it was coffee gives me energy, starts my day)
And there you have it, being able to identify the routine of your habits and its elements (along with some Willpower) will help you to change and work on those habits you no longer want to foster by redirecting them to something else. It worked for me!