This is the time of year when, traditionally, New Year Resolutions are made.
I myself have had many New Year Resolutions, ranging from losing weight to doing something I have never done before.
Some people say it is silly to have a New Year resolution – that if you want to do something you should be able to do it anytime, not wait for the New Year. I think this argument is particularly applied to smoking – usually by smokers. In a way that is right. If you want to do something, you’ll do it but it does actually help to have a plan. New Year resolutions are plans.
I’m going to talk you through how to give up smoking in this post. This isn’t the only way to do it but it is a way I think works for a lot of people and it is probably one of the most common resolutions that are made (and broken) at this time of year.
First of all you need to ask yourself, how much do I want to do this? And how much do I want to do it NOW? Might seem a bit silly because of course you want to do it – but how much? If you are doing it because everyone is nagging you to stop or because you know it isn’t good for you but you still enjoy it really, well, your motivation isn’t that high. And that is going to make it more difficult for you to stop.
So, the first step is to really think about how much you want to do it. Think of all the reasons you want to stop and all the reasons you might not…..
Often, writing this down can be a very powerful way of seeing just how much you want to do something. The list of reasons to stop will hopefully be longer than the list to continue!
Next, decide on a plan. Personally, I think it is pretty difficult to say you are NEVER going to do something again for the rest of your life. Or at least, it is difficult to imagine this is how it will be. So, short-term goals are better – with reviews. A lot of people decide they are going to completely give up on a certain day. This is all very well but it can make life hell for you and those around you! There are aids to help with the nicotine withdrawal but that will be over in five days anyway. The psychological addiction lasts much longer……
So, why not decide you will cut down at first? This works for a number of reasons. The idea that you can still have a cigarette at some point helps because you know you only have to go so long without. Decide which cigarette is the most difficult one of the day to cut out and which might be the one you can most easily drop. Then, go for dropping the easiest one. Maybe it is the one after a meal or your bedtime cigarette? Just cutting out that one ritual will put you in control. Do this for a few days and then see how it feels. You will not have failed because your goal was not to stop smoking at this point, just to cut out one important cigarette. So, now you know you CAN do it…move on to the next step. This might be delaying your morning ciggie. Maybe, instead of reaching for the fags as soon as your eyes open, you set yourself the goal of having a shower and THEN having your reward. Whatever works for you. It might seem like a small thing but it means you have taken back a bit more control of your smoking addiction.
Once you have managed these tasks, even if it takes a couple of weeks, you can successfully say you have achieved your preliminary goal – to make a change to your smoking habit.
The next step will also be relatively small compared to the overall goal of stopping but if you continue in this way, taking it a day or a week at a time, you are more likely to succeed. The idea is to increase the times you delay your cigarette or to cut out another regular smoke, such as the one after meals or even the one you have in the morning (possibly the most difficult one of all?). Distract yourself, do something, anything to take your mind off it. Give yourself a time limit, say half hour. Resist the urge to smoke for this amount of time and then you can have one. Or, you can delay for another half hour….as many times as you can do it. Again, you haven’t failed if you just manage the first half hour, you have controlled your urge until you wanted to give in to it. Simple but effective. It’s just a mindset.
The beauty of this plan is that you don’t set yourself up to fail so easily. If you don’t manage to stick to the plan it is only a three or four-day plan, as opposed to a lifetime. You can just go back three days and start again. You are only three days behind and you can catch up again. There is no failure, just review.
If you found it difficult or impossible to achieve your short-term goals, look at why this might be. And also, don’t forget to really look hard at the times you did manage to delay smoking or cut one out. What made it work for you? If you know, you can make it happen again.
This is a very wordy blog I know. I promise they won’t all be like this. And it only glosses the surface of motivating yourself to stop smoking really. It is not the definitive text on the subject! It is just my take on it, based on my work and on the evidence based research that is out there. Also, I don’t talk about how to continue with your not smoking plan….maybe I will revisit this in a few weeks with stage 2 of the plan!
Tomorrow I promise to write a very short blog about something really fascinating! (“Shit!! No pressure then, eh, Flossie??!!”)