I’ve been an entrepreneur all of my life. My dad tells the story of how he got a call from the principal at my elementary school once. I had been taking my Halloween candy out of it’s hiding place and stuffing it into my backpack, selling it to other students on the school bus.
I eventually grew up and started real businesses. But a company is very hard to start. It takes long hours, dedication, intense focus, lots of passion, and a ton of risk. I needed something that was cheap and could sustain me through 18 hour days.
Out of college I started a social media company that I ran from multiple locations in Central America. We were frantically trying to figure out our business model. We drank a lot of coffee.
When I came back to the US, I was the first employee at a promising Edtech startup called Udemy. We had raised a small amount of money, were on to something big, but had to scale a marketplace with very little resources compared to the competition. Needless to say, we drank endless pots of dark roast.
In my coffee drinking days I felt myself crashing at multiple points in the day. I wasn't sleeping well which lead me to needed even more caffeine to level me out. I was getting irritable easily, suffering from anxiety, and being really impulsive. But I work got done and I did it well, so I carried on my bad habit.
But one day everything began to spin and just felt like something was definitely wrong. I went to the doctor, and sure enough, my ALT levels in my liver were off. The culprit? Too much caffeine. I knew I wanted to quit.
But quitting caffeine wasn't that simple. I had what seemed to be withdrawal symptoms. Pounding headaches, muscle pain and cramping, complete lack of concentration, bad nausea, and heart palpitations consumed my days. I could almost feel my skin crawling, which was not something I enjoyed.
It was then that I began researching the negative effects of caffiene and what I found really shocked me. The human body quickly adapts to caffeine and in order to achieve the same buzz originally experienced, you need to consume greater amounts. Eventually caffeine’s only benefit happens by relieving the withdrawal symptoms that build up overnight. Sounds like drug addiction to me, and I didn't want any part of it. This information only solidified my decision to quit the stuff for good.
It's been 5 years since I've had a sip and I'm incredibly thankful that I quit. The clear head that came with not needing a cup helped me start my multi-million dollar business Sales Hacker, which allows me to travel the world hosting conferences and inspiring Sales Reps to surpass their numbers.
I love what I do and know that a lot of it can be acredited with the focus that came with nixing coffee.
1. Give yourself time to feel normal. Don't expect results overnight. It took me 3 weeks to not need it, and another few weeks to get over the negative symptoms.
2. Find your 'hot' hours. It's about optimizing the time you work a day instead of increasing your hours. If you know you are quick in the morning, crank things out. The first few weeks you are going to be tired and less focused. Make sure you schedule work time during the hours you are at your peak performance.
3. Quitting coffee and meditation helped me be less impulsive. This made me more level headed and allowed me to make better strategic decisions. Find whatever keeps you zen and gets stress out of your body and mind.
4. If you ever read any articles about things that succesful people make a priority, a good nights sleep will be on there. I actually didn't realize how badly caffeine was affecting my sleep but after a few weeks without it, I could tell I was falling asleep faster, hitting a deeper REM cycle, and waking up more refreshed.
5. Quitting coffee actually made me think about what I was putting into my body and those decisions had a domino effect. It gave me the push to eat better and exercise - basically take care of myself for the long run.
6. Most importantly, I recommend finding an alternative that fulfills that coffee feeling. Taking time to start your day with a warm mug of something nourishing.
After 21 days, my withdrawal symptoms wore off and I started drinking decaf tea. But it wasn’t the same. It’s basically just plant tasting water. I needed something with more substance, more robust. I craved that morning ritual.
But I also wanted something healthy. After scowering the stores and internet, not finding anything liked, I co-founded SUTRA. A superfoods packed hot beverage with incredible health benefits. Now I can have a hot beverage, similar to coffee, without the caffeine, packed with healing superfoods.