I have a solution for everything. Well, it feels that way to me (and we know how important feelings are, right?).
I discovered, when I was about 14 years old, the creative power of coffee and cake in a café environment. It has served me very well throughout my life, and has solved or soothed most of the problems I have encountered. I’m serious.
As a psychologist, I learned years ago about the importance of being able to delay gratification. Basically, it says that if you can hold off on the reward until AFTER you’ve done the work, you’re a better person. Whoops!
While I would say that I’m moderately able to delay gratification in some areas of my life, when it comes to coffee and cake I fail the test miserably. Coffee and cake comes FIRST, as soon after breakfast as I can wangle it. On the days that I swim, it IS breakfast. Whoopee!
Seriously though, taking a morning break to reflect and plan has been the secret of my output. If I have to bribe myself with coffee and cake, why not? It doesn’t make me a bad person, and lots of good stuff has come out of it. Here are some that I can think of right now:
- Three books published (many others not), and I’ve lost count of the articles I’ve planned or written at least partly in cafés. Posts too, of course
- Unlimited moments of inspiration, calls to action, bright ideas… all happening while I’m ‘switched off’
- I met my wife, she worked in a café where I was a regular
- Time to reflect and plan the day, the next business trip, a training session, or whatever
- It lifts my spirits when I’m down, or at least distracts me so I don’t go any further (down)
- As I work alone, going to the café means I get to see a few people. On a good day that can be such a dispiriting experience that I hurry home to get more work done
- If I’m having a bad day production-wise, I NEVER push myself. I know that a break, with coffee and cake, will get me back into gear or produce another fruitful course of action.
- Never mind delayed gratification, it means I can delay WORK!
I could go on, but I feel I need a break…..
Why wait for pleasure?
This habit has enriched my life immeasurably (If you are the type who likes to look at the negatives, I expect I’d be financially a LOT better off if I could reclaim all I have spent on coffee and cake over the years, no matter).
If I had to reduce it to a rule, I’d say “When in doubt, take a break to pamper yourself”. I know this goes against the puritanical teaching that many of us were brought up with. Whoever they were who started it, those there-is-virtue-in-industry zealots have a lot to answer for. I guess they didn’t have cafés back then, or something like that.
I grew up in post-war Britain where there was nothing to gratify yourself WITH. I still remember, as a small boy, queuing with my mother and sister to get our ration books renewed. Maybe that’s my excuse.
EXCUSE? You see? Even though I’ve been happily indulging myself for half a century, somewhere deep inside me I still think I need an EXCUSE for coffee and cake. I don’t, and neither do you. Go for it!