The end of the year makes people´s resolutions one of the main topics of conversation. It seems common knowledge that the keys are finding the right resolution, making them SMART, breaking them down and making yourself accountable by sharing them with other people. And while I agree with them wholeheartedly, I don’t believe you should necessarily share all your goals with others.
Image courtesy of FrameAngel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
All my failed attempts to give up smoking started with a couple of smoke-less days, followed by a spreading the word, feeling empowered, then looking at other people´s cigarettes more and more, until I caved in, when I felt I not only let myself down, but also other people. All those people now knew I couldn’t do it. They all knew I had failed, which made it a lot harder to make the next attempt. I knew I had let myself down, but felt I had also let other people down.
It sometimes started a domino effect. In some groups, smokers try to quit together, or they follow someone else´s lead, and when one of them fails, everyone tends to get disheartened and stop trying.
I have seen it happen with not only smoking, but with fitness, and studying daily or being more positive. I´m sure you have as well. It sucks to be the first to drop the ball, just as it sucks to fail. That is why the last time I quit smoking, I didn’t tell anyone. I have to say that it was very helpful that I had never smoked in my house and that only one other guy in my group of college friends smoked. Here are the main changes that helped me quit that nasty habit.
Change my own attitude
One day I decided not only to quit smoking and tell no-one, but also to consider myself as a non-smoker. Whenever I felt the urge to light up, I´d remind myself that I didn’t smoke, and thought of something else. I would ask for non-smoker tables at restaurants and avoided going out for cigarette breaks, staying nice and comfortable inside, chatting between classes. Whenever someone would ask me to join them, I´d say I didn’t feel like it, had just had one or had a sore throat.
Be more mindful
I had been smoking so much for such a long time that many routines were adjusted to how long it took me to smoke a cigarette, like on my walk to university or on library breaks. Sometimes I would fill in the time just puffing away when I was waiting on someone or just plain bored. One of the things that helped me was to leave my iPod at home, and be music free.
This enabled me to focus on my thoughts as I walked, or waited for the bus. The first week this was not too easy. Boredom and nicotine withdrawal are not a good combination. However, I remember that my grandma would always say that “only boring people get bored” and that I was a non-smoker. After that it got easier.
Focus on the improvements made
The main advantage to giving up smoking was the sudden amount of spending cash I freed up for other things. This meant more Christmas presents for my family, more activities with friends and I smelled way better. Of course this didn’t really make up for what I was giving up, but it sure helped on the harder times.
Enjoy the rewards
I used to think that smoking calmed me down and helped me unwind. How could I have handled all those problems without a cigarette in my hand, making me look cool and mysterious (yeah, right)? What I came to realise is that I was constantly thinking about smoking: about whether I had enough cigarettes to last me a day, when I could leave the classroom to light up, and so on and so on. I was effectively thinking about it all day, getting anxious about it, fretting and worrying.
Only after a few months was I able to finally calm down, and enjoy my new non-smoker life. Funnily enough, even though I had told no-one, one day I was greeted with a round of applause from my friends who had noticed that all my efforts had paid off.
All of this can be applied to any area of life that seems daunting and almost impossible to accomplish, from saving more to improving your health or learning a language. You have to remember that you might fail before you finally achieve your goals, but that, in the end, perseverance will get you there.
So what was the hardest goal you have achieved?