I was 1o when I smoked my first sigarette, by 14 i was a regular smoker. In the golden age of adolescence I used to tell girls that I was smoking XXX because they taste like clouds. I loved to smoke till the last sigarette I smoked. I had no urge to stop smoking, a lot of good reasons of course, but no dramatic illness that would force me or so. I just decided for myself this was the right moment.
Did I already try before? Yes! Did a fail? Yes! So what was the difference this time? The difference is that I took the Change Management Approach (no, I am not selling anything...).
Here is an easy, step-by-step, guide on how use the change management approach applied to quitting smoking:
Change your mindset -step 1- : you will not succeed until you focus on what you have not to do; this is neuro-science. In order to understand what you do not have to do, your brain has to figure, aka warm up to, exactly what it has not to do. Classic example: "do not think of a pink elephant"; in order to understand this sentence you have to think of a pink elephant and tell yourself "no" afterwards. Now replace "pink elephant" with "smoking" and you easily see this is no good way to quit smoking... So what can we do? We start to focus on everything we do when we are not smoking.
Change your mindset -step 2- : you start measuring but according to our new mindset. How many time do you spend in a day without smoking? At least when you sleep you do. This will be your first KPI (Key Performance Indicator). Up from now you will increase your time without smoking in a steady way. Define the measure you prefer: number of minutes, percentage of the day, or what ever allows you to observe a smooth but steady improvement.
Change your mindset -step 3- : you count how many cigarettes you smoke and the exact cost. While raising the time spent without smoking, the number of cigarettes should go down, as a consequence you should start spending less money; take exact note of it.
Change your mindset - step 4- : as a smoker money spent in cigarettes has never been a problem, so keep considering it as given. As a consequence, reducing the money spent on cigarettes you are now saving; use 50% of this money for anythings that gives you joy in the short term ( a movie, new shoes, a dinner...), keep the other 50% as savings.
Change your mindset - step 5- : now start focusing on your healthy lifestyle. You may think: "we never talked about healthy lifestyle?!?" You are right, but if you just take note, to a certain extend you are already having a healthy lifestyle: are you walking from where you sit to the bathroom? Are you getting up to exit your car? This is already sport! Again, the first thing to do is to measure and focus on what is already working. Next thing to do? Take this as your second KPI and develop it. Some people use pedometers, others rules or thumbs, the important thing is becoming aware of what we do well and to intentionally but gradually improve it.
Final step: Keep your mindset! Alcoholics Anonymous know well how the most important thing is to always remember themselves that they are and stay alcoholics and so should do smokers who quit. This might appear as frustrating or limiting, but it is not. At the contrary, by telling yourself a smoker who decided to quit, you remember this was made by intentionally focusing on the healthy side of your life and that measuring your success led you to be the healthy and satisfied person you are today.
Want a short version?
Focus on your healthy side and expand it gradually!
Now you may wonder if this works for everybody? Probably not, but who cares, the important question is if it works for you, and you are the only one who can answer this: start measuring your success, share it and tell us if it works!
Enjoy life, Paolo