blog psychology

Quit drinking coffee by quitting your job!

How to stop your coffee drinking habit

It is a well-known fact that once you repeat something enough times it becomes a habit. You may think you can not live without some lifelong habits you built, but if you manage to eliminate the habit trigger, you can actually remove that habit from your life without much effort. The quest then becomes to find the trigger, once found the process of overcoming that habit can begin.

Identify habit triggers

So how can you stop that coffee drinking habit that you know is a burden and unhealthy? One way is to find all the triggers that nudge you to think about drinking coffee. Let’s start with your job, most probably the majority of your coffee intake is during your work hours. So how many triggers can you identify at your current office that lead to drinking coffee? I think you can count at least 5 common scenarios, for example coming to the office in the morning and going straight to the coffee machine, or returning from a lunch break and seeing your coffee mug empty. So if there are so many different triggers, can you really stop drinking coffee at the office?

Willpower and behavioral change

When we think about behavioral change, what is the first thing that comes to our mind? Willpower, “yes I will resist the urge of drinking coffee next time I have it.” But how many times did that end up working? For me, it was never!
Using willpower to stop a habit is not impossible but it is very close to impossible. One problem with willpower is you have a fixed amount of it, one day you will have enough willpower to resist your temptation, another day you may not, and on that day will fall back to your old ways and realize your habits are simply stronger than you, and what is the point of fighting something that is stronger than you?

Environment and behavioral change

So if willpower does not work, what will work? There must be something that can be done about quitting habits! Let me drop a quote here:

There’s just one way to radically change your behavior: radically change your environment.
—Dr. B.J. Fogg, Director of Stanford Persuasive Lab

The idea is simple, with all the triggers at your current environment, trying to fight it with willpower will not work, it is far easier to change your environment and be careful not to create bad habits in the first place! If you are familiar with mental models, particularly the inversion mental model, you can immediately understand why would this work. Instead of fighting the habit directly, try to reverse the problem, don’t fight the habit, try to eliminate the cause of the habit, the habit trigger, once you remove the trigger, quitting a habit is an easy task.

New environment, new you

Now lets present a solution for our coffee drinking problem: instead of fighting it directly at your current office, quit your current job, get another job, which means moving to a new environment, resists drinking coffee at the new environment on your first day, and just like that, your urge to drink coffee went away! By each passing day, it becomes easier and easier to resist it! If you can hold off drinking coffee at your new job for about two months, congrats, you successfully removed the excessive drinking habit you thought you can not live without!
Actually, don’t quit your job! Wait until you get a better offer, switch jobs, then try this and let me know if it worked.
Actually, if you have health consequences from all that caffeine, then yes, quit your job, get another one and try this!
Keep on coding healthier!

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