I like a cup of instant coffee first thing in the morning. Every morning, without fail. For as long as I remember.
And I always add a spoon of CoffeeMate, a coffee whitener, after making the coffee. Always.
Now, first thing in the morning is the time of day when we are mostly working on autopilot. Doing things automatically. Without much thought. Which is why it’s the best time of the day to introduce new habits.
Anyway, one thing that’s forever bothered me was that the CoffeeMate would stick to the spoon, and it would take ages of stirring to get it free of whitener. (Yes, I live an exciting life.)
Then one day, a couple of months ago, I used a different spoon to add the whitener. I accidentally used a dry spoon – and the whitener didn’t stick.
A revelation! It changed my life. Well, no, it didn’t – but I do get to drink my coffee whole seconds sooner…
Sticky spoons – sticky habits
‘Beware of what you get used to’ is wise advice.
Once we get used to something we don’t bother to think about alternatives – we take it for granted. It can be labelled laziness – or efficiency. Either way, we’ve got a routine which works. Freshness, novelty, and experimentation are not allowed in.
When habits become traps
Think about it for a moment. Which things are you so used to that they’ve become the ‘only way’?
Might they be worth re-thinking?
One clue is ‘have to’. If I have to have coffee especially coffee with coffee whitener then I don’t have a choice – I’m trapped.
Not a big deal. Not a serious trap or addiction.
Want to vs. Have to
But when you have to:
- eat at a certain time
- go to work by the same route
- be nice to everyone
- never disagree with people etc. etc.
… then perhaps you no longer have choice. Perhaps you’re a victim of habit.
And perhaps it’s time to ask yourself some questions.
Routines are great because they are efficient. But they can also be like blinkers. Or manacles. Or traps.
(See also: Beware of what you get used to)