Breaking Habits

Up until 3 years ago (I was 31), I had never tasted coffee before. Now, I’m a 2 to 3 cup per day drinker. I have a dislike of being attached (or addicted) to anything, however benign it is. Last week I quit coffee for a few days, in order to break my daily habit. My normal day was 2 travel mugs, made from home (at a cost of about $0.20 per cup) and maybe a third one in the afternoon from the work cafeteria. The cost of drinking coffee didn’t drive me to change my habit, it was more just changing my normal routine around in the short-term.

I’ve done similar things like this before. I’ve quit drinking for months at a time, most recently for the month of January. I quit drinking for health reasons, as well as to change my normal social outings on weekends from bar or drinking-based to different activities for a while. I didn’t really feel my life changed for the better or worse, it just changed the type of stuff I was doing on the weekends. I’m far from the hard-drinking-stay-up-until-2 AM-and-feel-like-crap-for-four-days like I was a decade ago. I’m more likely to have a few drinks and be in bed by midnight these days, but I think it’s a good change once in a while.

I’ve also carried out many 24-hour fasts in the past, where all I’d consume for 24 hour periods (after breakfast on day 1 to the same time on day 2). I did this because I read of the health benefits of eating in this manner. Although I haven’t had a fast in the past year or so, when you don’t eat for over 20 hours, you learn the feeling of actually being REALLY HUNGRY (from a privileged North American perspective – I’m sure there are people in the world who could probably describe this feeling much more definitively). Now I know that at 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, I’m probably going to survive an hour or two until lunch, and probably don’t need to have that muffin from the cafeteria.

One of the things that has helped me in my financial planning is that I’m not really all that attached to anything. If I couldn’t afford to do something, or to buy something, I try to avoid spending money on it as best I can. I just don’t like to be attached to anything enough that I can’t really get rid of it, whether it’s a habit or something else. Beyond having a pretty good income to start with and having no kids, I think that this ability would probably be what helps me the most daily in reaching my financial goals.

What are your bad habits? Have you quit them before, or wish you could?

4 thoughts on “Breaking Habits”

  1. Two years ago I quit alcohol. (~8 drinks/week)

    With hindsight, it’s one of my life’s greatest decisions. I discovered when in the throws of a habit, it seems normal. But stepping back, having a clear view, Whoa!

  2. For whatever reason, since retiring (almost 2 week in now) I haven’t had any alcohol, nor have I craved it whatsoever. Already lost 10 pounds, and my abs are threatening to make an appearance soon. 😉

    Amazing what removal of work related stress can do.

    To Tim, Dave and all other aspiring early retirees out there, I have found the experience so far to exceed what I had been expecting. I know that there is a large group of people out there whose identities are tied in with their jobs – I get that. But for those of us who have no trouble finding wonderful purpose OUTSIDE our careers, ER is worth striving for. Never been happier.

    Go for it people.

  3. Did you have any trouble giving up the coffee? I quit cold turkey when we were planning on having a kid and got the shakes and the worst headache for days!

    But that was at a particularly busy work time for me when I would be drinking coffee all day to sqeeze as many work hours out of me as possible. As a SAHM mom now I might have a cup or two a day, or not.

  4. I stopped drinking coffee and caffeinated drinks for a month a few months ago. I found that I miss coffee not to keep me wake but really being able to sit down with my wife and have a cup of coffee and just talk. We’e substituted herbal tea now. I still drink coffee here and there but mostly herbal tea now.

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