Strategies to quit smoking (if you’re serious)

It has been 3 years, I went from smoking to completely not smoking. I couldn’t believe how simple it could be. I’ll tell you the main tricks here so you won’t have to waste your time.

If I were to do it again, here’s what I’d do.

1) Have a plan. There is no point starting until you do this. Prepare to throw everything at it for 6 months. False starts can slide you back into the habit. You will start having negative self-talk and then it’s turtles all the way down.

2) Do a stocktake of your smoker friends. You need to leave them for 3 months. Let them know this beforehand. Tell them that you’re going to die soon if you don’t quit smoking and they’ll usually understand. If they don’t, you might want to reconsider your friends.

3) Spend a week to find out where and when you are triggered to smoke. Take notes. For me, it was due to stress and availability. Availability is when you are in situations where smoking is abundant, like a bar. Stress is when you are doing something hard, then you need to take a break, then you go to smoking.

Availability is easy. Stop going to those places for a while. The problem is staying at home is boring and going to a bar is fun.

The more interesting question is why am I doing it? For me, that basically boils down to I was doing it to survive longer in a social environment that I wasn’t particularly happy in. While I’m bored, I had to find activities to do and essentially stun my brain into submission. There are better ways to do that. One of those is to do things or hang around people that I enjoy and I don’t have to smoke to be around them.

Stress is harder. You basically need to re-learn new habits for dealing with stress. There are a whole bunch of things like sports, meditation or orgasm. The easiest way is to predict stressful situations, plan ahead and avoid them.

4) Travel. Go somewhere new for 2 weeks. Better, 4 weeks. A nice beach or somewhere with nature. I find travelling to be the best way to change the environment. When you are in a new place, you are hyper-aware of your surroundings. You actively choose things to do. Instead of working to break the habit, you are working not to start it. And not starting a habit is much easier than breaking one.

After being away, coming back have the same effect as going somewhere new. The same benefit follows.

5) Tell everyone you’ve already quit smoking. Use consistency bais to work for you. Then if you smoke, your friend will look at you all weird “Didn’t you already quit smoking?” Then you are forced to be consistent with your words. Then you become what you say.

6) Use the carrot and the stick. Create a punishment for yourself. I have a friend, Spencer who cuts a $50 note as a punishment. Another friend, Gun who cuts his top-of-the-line Bose noise-cancellation headphones. It needs to be painful.

On the flip side, reward yourself. I don’t think I need to give examples in that department.

7) Find an exercise that you enjoy. What you do it’s not as important that you just do it. Do something every day and make that a habit. Do it with a group of good looking healthy people. Use peer influence.

When you exercise, your body will tell you what it needs. Chances are, it wouldn’t be to smoke more.

8) This is a little extreme. So, use it at your own risk. Smoke a ton, like 3 packets in a day and get really sick. Nothing will give you a bigger push for a new habit than your body screaming at you.

All of that said, quitting smoking is breaking a habit that has been hammered for many years. You need to be prepared to throw everything at it. You decide it’s important to you and you work at it. You create a plan. You prioritize it above everything else. It’s just like learning calculus. It’s just like losing weight. It’s just like succeeding at your job. It’s a skill that you develop and a choice you make.

Once you master how to break the smoking habits, you are free to smoke again. And you would know how to break the habit again. Smoking would not have a grip on you. That is the day that you too, am a master of smoking, not the other way around.

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