“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
Douglas Adams might be well known for his books, but he was also quite vocal when it comes to his struggle to meet deadlines and goals. His quote above become infamous as he spoke about how he struggled to meet goals – no matter what they were!
Of course, just listening to one piece of advice is never going to be enough – but perhaps we could take a little inspiration from Douglas? He spoke about the need to set mini goals throughout a task, so that you know where you are at throughout your challenge and are always working towards achieving the ultimate goal at the end. Could this method be the key for smokers to kick their habit for good?
Everything in Moderation
The whole point of goals is that they are achievable. There no point setting yourself something that is too hard to do, or too far away to achieve. For example, I’ll give up smoking in 2015 is not a sensible goal – why on Earth are you setting yourself something so far in advance? 13 months is too much! You could look at saying “I’ll be a complete non smoker” for 2015, with mini goals on how much you’ll cut down and what you will achieve throughout 2014.
That said, we all know just how additive smoking is – so you can’t go the other way and try to do it too quickly. Saying you’ll throw away all of your cigarettes in the morning and be a non smoker straight away is too much of a stretch and the likelihood is that you’ll fail. Of course if you fail to give up the first time you’ll feel less inclined to try again.
The best thing you can do is not to make things too hard for yourself. Yes you should set goals so you have something to work towards, but try and make them realistically. The goals will also depend on how much you smoke and when, so don’t feel like you have to stick to the same goals as anyone else – set them to work for you and you alone!
Why Does It Help With Giving Up Smoking?
We’re all used to working to a schedule and often benefit from having some sort of structure set out for us. Whether that’s a goal to go to the gum 3 times a week or to have one vegetarian meal a week, goals are there to guide and motivate us. They also stop us from being too hard on ourselves – we know that as long as we have been to the gym 3 times that week, the rest of the week isn’t important and that we should not beat ourselves up for not going. It is a great way to make sure you are motivated and that you are proud of yourself for your achievements rather than dwelling on something that you have not done.
Tobacco is no different – it is addictive and we become used to smoking one. In fact it becomes so much of a habit that it is almost a schedule – you smoke when you wake up, you have one on your way to work, one when you get to work etc. You’ll be happy in this schedule so it will be hard to break, especially without some sort of structure and schedule to replace the one that you are already so used to.
It is more often than not mind over matter when it comes to giving up – so with clear goals in place you have your mind in the right place for the hard journey to becoming a non smoker.
Hints and Tips
So all of that might sound well and good – but how do you actually go about setting a realistic goal to match your needs?
The best thing you can do is look at how much you are smoking now and a number you would be happy to cut down by. So for example if you’re smoking 20 a day then why not look at cutting this number in half? 10 a day still gives you quite the nicotine hit, so you are not going completely cold turkey.
Set yourself a goal for a couple of weeks in the future and aim to be someone that only smokes 10 a day by that time. You can take it in stages and gradually remove one cigarette from your daily routine. This will allow you to adjust to your new regime and your body will crave nicotine much less than you expect – so it should make giving up much easier!
Use all of the normal tricks to keep yourself motivated – look at how much money you are saving each day, week, month etc and what you could be spending this money on instead. Even cutting down by 10 a day you are saving over 70 cigarettes a week – it soon adds up!
Just because you are using the goal approach that doesn’t mean that you have to cut everything else out too – Have a look at stop smoking methods, tools and even e cigarettes to see if any of these could help you on your journey to being a non smoker.
If you have a bigger goal – IE you want to give up smoking altogether then you might want to give yourself a little longer to complete your plan. Choose a time of your life when you are stress free (or as much as possible) and set about giving yourself a few weeks to get there. Use all of the tools available to you and make sure that you do what you can to achieve your goal. Even choose a time of year (such as Stoptober) as extra motivation to give up smoking.
With the right timing and setting yourself sensible goals to achieve, you are far more likely to be able to reduce the amount you smoke or give up altogether, so why not give it a ago?