How to Break a Habit...Once and for All

Recently, I tried for the millionth time to give up coffee. And for the millionth time, I failed miserably. But it was in failing that I realized something – my caffeine intake wasn’t the real issue. It was the symptom of a “tack” I was sitting on.

Wednesday of last week was Day 1 of my coffee cleanse. My alarm went off at 5:50am, and immediately, the thought of the day stretching out before me felt so daunting that I rolled over and hit snooze. Several times. For almost 45 minutes.

The rest of the day didn’t go much better. I got my kids off to school late. When I finally got to the office, my concentration was so off, I wasted a whole hour trying to sort through emails. I felt irritable and exhausted.

So I asked myself, what in my life is happening, that I need so much caffeine to get me through the day? Why do I rely on it so heavily?

The rest of that week, I dragged myself through my routine, succumbing to the corner café only twice. And it was while standing in line on of those forbidden coffee runs that I realized something. Suddenly, in a burst of pre-caffeinated clarity, I understood why I craved coffee so much.

Every morning, I wake up thinking this: I’m not doing enough.

Things aren’t moving fast enough in my business. I don’t have the plan perfected. I don’t spend enough time with my kids. I don’t check in with my friends enough. I don’t work out enough. 

Every thought I had, in those first few moments of the day, was of not feeling enough.

That’s exhausting.

And that was the tack I was sitting on.

Recently, I heard this great metaphor. The idea is, if you were sitting on a tack, you wouldn’t just put a Band-Aid on it. You wouldn’t take aspirin for the swelling, or go buy some kind of ointment or herbal remedy or whatever. You’d stand up, and remove the tack.

But how often in life do we treat the symptoms, instead of the root cause?

My beliefs about myself were draining my energy. Instead of dealing with them head on, I tried to side-step them with caffeine. But no amount of coffee can make me feel like I’m good enough, if that’s the tape that’s playing through my head.

So, knowing this, I stepped out of line at the coffee shop, and I asked myself, What can I do differently? How can I face those gremlins – those feelings of “not enough” – head-on?

I decided to use the tried-and-true technique of asking powerful questions.

What would I do differently, if I was exactly where I needed to be?

What would I do today if I believed I was enough?

Even just asking those questions gives me a bit of energy. It lightens up the situation. It opens up a new mindset for me to start approaching this issue from a different perspective. And the answers I get are not “Drink more coffee.”

I would manage my schedule better so I have time every day for my kids AND my business.

I would listen to my body and let myself sleep in a little more, instead of feeling like I have to be up before 6 to be productive.

I would feel good about the fact that I’m doing my best. And feeling that would allow me to actually do my best, too. That means I would ask – and answer – the questions “What am I doing well today? What am I proud of today?” And I would answer those before I have a chance to criticize myself.

And yeah—I would allow myself a cup of coffee once in a while. I won’t obsess over not having it, but I won’t rely on it, either.

What about you? What’s an issue you’re facing right now that you’re struggling to overcome?

Can you identify the “tack” that you’re sitting on?

What would you do differently if you were addressing the root issue?

All this reminds me of my favorite quote – You can’t change the problem with the same consciousness that created it. (I think Einstein said that – he really was brilliant!)

Try it – this technique can really be revolutionary. And once you’ve got your new shift in consciousness, you can go out and shine.




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