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February 28, 2022

28 Day Challenge

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I recently completed the 28 day challenge that Jim Dethmer recommended back in CLG’s September installment of Going Deeper. When I read it I thought, “that would be a good exercise for my clients.” I, however, was unwilling to give up an addiction. I ran into Jim at the CLG Team retreat two months later and he noticed that I drank Coke everyday. He called out my addiction to Coke and invited me to take the 28 day challenge and offered to be my accountability partner.  While I am disciplined in many areas of my life, I didn’t think I could give up a 40 year daily addiction and love. Drinking Coke (especially from McDonalds) was an experience for me.  I felt that if I was ever going to try to end my daily addiction to Coke, now was the time.

I was now willing.

I committed to begin by December 15. 

I had several backup caffeinated drinks in my fridge when I began on Sunday, November 28. I posted on my LinkedIn that I was taking the 28 day challenge. No way to back down now. 

The 28 day challenge is from Anna Lembke’s new book, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence. The second part of her 28 day challenge was an afterthought to me: tell the truth. At the end of every day, I would complete the sentence, “What I said was…” “When the actual truth was…”  Lying means we are out of integrity. Every time we are out of integrity, it is a drain on our energy.  I caught my lies and withholds every day. What an awareness to place a spotlight on. I realized where I was holding back from speaking my truth; concerned how I would be perceived; wanting to avoid conflict. Jim reminded me that the goal wasn’t necessarily to reveal your lies to the other person, it was first for awareness and acceptance of self. Toward the end of the 28 days I was more aware in-the-moment when I lied.  Many times I revealed myself as soon as I realized it.   

How did it go?  

Whenever I’d hear that people gave up coffee, soda or alcohol for a month, I used to think, “I could never do that because I'm too addicted to Coke. It’s a 40 year habit. ”  Having completed the challenge, I surprised myself that it was easier than I thought. 

To be clear—I am not saying it was easy—just not the mountain I had made it in my head.  

What did I learn? 

  1. I can give up a 40 year daily habit. It sounds simple now, but it had become so much of a habit, I didn’t believe that I could abstain for a month. I had made it an unscalable mountain. 
  2. I can win any battle I put my mind on. I discovered that I was drinking about 100mg of caffeine a day. I was quickly able to cut my caffeine in half. With 10 days to go, I gave up all caffeine.  The fact that I was willing and able to up the ante of giving up two addictions energized me even more than giving up Coke.  I felt that it was a sign that I was more powerful than the addiction.
  3. Coke and caffeine don’t have the same hold that they had. I no longer feel that I have to have a Coke every day.  There are days now where  I don’t have caffeine, caffeinated water or Coke. Most importantly, I have shifted the question. Instead of the daily routine of when will I have my Coke, the question shifts to, “Will I have a Coke today? That’s power. 
  4. Approach a challenge with play. I envisioned myself completing the challenge and smiling when I slayed the dragon.  I believe that mindset helped me shrink the power of addiction. 
  5. The truth-telling part of the 28 day challenge had even more impact on me. I discovered daily energy leaks. The awareness helped me to speak with more candor and trust my instincts. 

The 28 day challenge was a worthwhile challenge that left me feeling a great sense of accomplishment. I let go of an addiction and discovered greater awareness around candor and integrity. I appreciate all of the support that I received. What would you be willing to abstain from for 28 days? 

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