Growing up, I was a pretty hyperactive kid.  I certainly did not need any stimulants. Playing indoors was not for me so I spent a lot of time in the backyard.  My sisters and I were very fortunate to have this huge backyard to play in.  My Dad created this incredible space us to play in and for entertaining guests.  My Dad loved being a father and felt it was very important for us kids have a wonderful environment to play in.

The garage was converted into a playroom / family room.  Games, toys, TV, ping pong table the works.  Behind the detached garage was a swimming pool with a playhouse next to it that we eventually housed chickens in.  Lots of plants, trees and flowers surrounding the covered patio where he held barbecues.

This was our home in Pasadena and my Dad always refers to this home as the best years of his life.  We lived there for over 10 years.  We would have our friends over all the time and spend hours playing in the backyard.  My Dad built it that way so that we would always want to be there, not go to our friend’s house but for our friends to come to ours.

I never even considered drinking coffee until I was in College.  Growing up, coffee was for adults, not for children.  Did you ever stop to think how important that distinction is?  I can’t even remember my first cup of coffee or even liking the taste of it.  It’s too hot, it tastes bitter, it needs lots of cream and sugar.  I didn’t get it, so I didn’t drink it.

When I got into college and started working at a restaurant, a high paced restaurant that was packed every night called F. Mclintocks I was introduced to “a bullet” by one of the other busboys.  A bullet is a water glass filled with ice to the top, then you fill about 90% of the glass with coffee, 10% with cream add some sugar, stir and then with a straw suck down that whole glass in one shot.

I did that bullet right before my shift and within minutes I was electric.  I was already best busboy 2 months in a row because I was so full of energy and now, I was unstoppable.  This is the most amazing feeling of my life!!!  I always had good work ethic, I loved doing a good job, the praise of being the best fueled me, I didn’t need the caffeine but to late now, it had me, I loved the extra boost, the extra kick.  This is where my love affair with coffee began.

If you’re paying attention there are clues laid out for you already.  When you are having fun, when you are enjoying life, when you love what you do, you don’t need anything.  Let me repeat that: you don’t need anything.  You don’t need a stimulant, you don’t need to enhance the experience, the experience and the environment stimulates you and energizes you.

Why is it that people that hate their job, hate their marriage, hate their family members, hate this, hate that, are in some of the worst physical condition? You know who they are, heck you may be one of them, they consume copious amounts of caffeine, sugar and fat.  They are constantly trying to comfort themselves from the hell that is their life.  Eventually, the conventional means to soothe yourself stop working and you need to upgrade to energy drinks, alcohol and drugs.

It’s not rocket science once you lay it all out.  Basically, you took a wrong turn somewhere and found yourself trapped inside your own life with no end in sight.  No wonder you need copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake, from the moment you wake up in the morning the only thing your body wants to do is go back to sleep.  You need caffeine because without it you can’t accomplish all the things you don’t want to do.

So what is the solution?

The answer is simple but not easy.  When you find yourself trapped in your own existence the first thing you must do is take an inventory of how deep the hole is you have dug yourself into is.  Married, children, mortgage, job you hate, environment you hate, toxic friends and family.  How far down the hole are you?

In many cases, subconsciously, we know how deep we are, and this feeling of hopelessness takes a foothold of you that feels like border line depression.  Omar please, don’t take the coffee away from me, I need it, I can’t get my day started without it, it’s the only thing I have left that I truly enjoy.

Are you listening to yourself, “coffee is the only thing left that I truly enjoy”?  Never in my childhood did this statement even remotely come into me existence.  I was too busy jumping out of bed, trying to avoid eating breakfast, and running outside to play.  Fresh air, sunshine, water from the pool, I had endless amounts of energy and no caffeine in sight.

Again, the answer is simple, go back to your childhood and reconnect with the part of you that did not need coffee or sugar for that matter.  If you are in a marriage that is not working, a job that is too demanding, around people that are too toxic you may have to make some really tough choices and really big moves.  Because if you don’t, eventually you will be facing a heart attack or stroke.

Here’s what you need!

Trust me you don’t need more stimulants.  What you need is rest, what you need is fun, what you need is to love what you do, what you need is the outdoors.   Here’s an exercise, sit at your desk at work and allow yourself to daydream for a few minutes.  If you could be anywhere else, where would you be?  I promise you it won’t be anywhere in your current reality.

So here are some questions you can start asking yourself right now to get the ball rolling:

  1. What if I lost my job tomorrow with no way of getting it back? Where would I go? What would I do?
  2. If I could be anywhere in the world right now where would it be?
  3. What if my spouse left me, just walked out the door and had divorce papers sent to me by courier? Where would I go? What would I do?
  4. What if I lost everything, I mean everything, what if the only thing I had to my name was my clothes and my life experience and knowledge, what would I do, where would I go?

There are many powerful probing questions you can daydream about that eventually will provoke “the what”.  What you truly want out of life.  Once you allow yourself to want something, it could be the one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning that allows you to taper off the coffee and stimulants you normally need.

Once you know what you want, and focus every day on that want, eventually the how will present itself. However, you must know what you want first.  Otherwise the only thing you will focus on day in and day out is what you don’t want and for that you will need copious amounts of coffee to stay awake.

This is how I quit coffee

I removed as many of the tasks that I don’t want to do out of my life, I’m now consistently delegating my to-do items to my assistants.  I created an ongoing do-not-do list that will allow me to focus on growing my business as well as growing as an individual.

More importantly I have started spending more time outdoors.  The mountains with the cool air revitalize me.  At this very moment I’m writing this blog post in front of a pool early in the morning before the day’s activities get started.  We are currently vacationing with friends at the beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.  Nature, in all its glory, is the magic internal battery charger.

I cut down heavily on the social media and consciously began reconnecting with my wife and daughter, giving them the priority I was once giving the phone.  I am walking away more and more from the pettiness and daily minutia and began prioritizing my day with items that energize me and inspire me like writing this blog post.

Self-Care

And this is where my new understanding for self-care has come into play.  The term self-care is thrown around too much these days. It’s hard to define exactly what it means to self-care.  What it means for me today is the awareness of what my mind and body are trying to tell me.  Instead of pushing myself to the brink of exhaustion and then pushing through that exhaustion with copious amounts of caffeine, I in turn listen to my body.

Instead of allowing my conscious mind to push me because it has been corrupted with peak performance programing, I say to myself, “ok, time to shut it down, we need a power nap, we need to get a little sun, we need to eat lunch…”

What I have come to realize about self-care is that we all need it, we all must have it, we all must listen to our body’s and not stimulate them with coffee, sugar and energy drinks.  If I can’t keep going and my first thought is: I need caffeine and not: I need to rest for the moment, then you have bought into the programing.  The programing that tells us that if we are not preforming at the highest level that we are weak and not up to par.

What if we focused first on making sure our bodies were operating at an optimal level through sleep, rest, hydration, mediation, exercise, spending time in nature?  What if we no longer bought into the programing that tells us were not good enough?  Would we need stimulants like coffee, sugar and energy drinks to get us through the day?

I’ll let you answer that question for yourself.  In the meantime, I’ll be listening to my body and living caffeine free.