For years now we’ve been hearing about the Y2K bug and the potentially devastating effects the bug might have on computers around the world. The buzzword has been “Y2K Compatible.” Every company is claiming that their computers and software and every other product you can think of are Y2K Compatible.
But what is NOT Y2K compatible? Smoking, of course!
When the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, we usher in a new year. No big deal, normally, but this year is year 2000. Quite honestly, the number on the calendar is only a number, but being human, we tend to make a big deal out of numbers. Do you get upset when you miss the odometer on your car rolling over to the 10,000th mile? It’s silly, but just about all of us place importance on numbers like these.
So, we’re reaching a new millennium—or are we? Depending on who you ask, the new millennium begins in year 2001. Why? Well, the first year on the calendar was not year zero, it was year one. So each new millennium starts when the one pops up in the ones column. But, who’s counting anyway? It’s more fun to celebrate the new millennium in year 2000. Now that we’ve cleared away that technicality that may bug some of you perfectionists out there (me included), let’s talk about the biggest opportunity of your lifetime: New Millennium’s Resolutions!
Huh? What’s a New Millennium’s Resolution? Of course you know what a New Year’s Resolution is, right? You make up your mind to change something in your life starting on January 1st. Popular resolutions include losing weight, saving more money, being a better person, drinking less and of course quitting smoking. So a New Millennium’s Resolution is the same thing—you resolve to change or improve your behavior for the new millennium. The big difference is that New Millennium’s Resolutions come only once every 1000 years, and a New Millennium’s Resolution is much more hopeful. You’ve only got one chance in your lifetime to get a New Millennium’s Resolution right!
The year 2000 and beyond hold promise for so many great advancements in human development and technological improvement. Seize this exciting but brief moment in time to truly make a change in your life.
So, what is a resolution, anyway?
The word resolution has multiple definitions, many of which help to fully explain what it means to you and me, and what you should expect and plan for when you make a New Millennium’s Resolution.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines resolution as “the state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.” What does resolute mean? It’s defined as “firm or determined; unwavering”. When you resolve to do something, you must be unwavering in your pursuit of that something, whatever it may be.
Resolution is also defined as “A course of action determined or decided on.” When you resolve to do something you aren’t telling yourself, “well, maybe I’ll quit smoking in January.” On the contrary, you make a decision to quit forever, starting January 1.
American Heritage goes on to define resolution as “A formal statement of a decision or expression of opinion put before or adopted by an assembly such as the U.S. Congress.” Wow! That’s exciting! Think of your resolution to quit smoking as an act of Congress! That will give you much more power and determination when you are tempted to smoke.
In medicine, resolution is defined as “the subsiding or termination of an abnormal condition, such as a fever or an inflammation.” I’d say smoking is an abnormal condition, wouldn’t you? It’s crazy to consciously choose to suck smoke down into your lungs. So let’s resolve right now to terminate it from your life!
In the legal field a court decision may also be called a resolution. You better follow the judge’s decision! He’s decided it’s time for you to quit smoking. Be it resolved that you will quit smoking on January 1.
In the sciences, such as mathematics, chemistry and physics, resolution is “the act or process of separating or reducing something into its constituent parts,” with the purpose being to solve a problem or bring it to a conclusion or an end. This article will help you to analyze the parts of smoking that make quitting easy or difficult, so that you can end your smoking habit.
A resolution is the solving of a problem or puzzle. In literary works, the resolutions is “the part…in which the complications of the plot are resolved or simplified.” That’s what we’re here to do today—to resolve and simplify your complicated smoking habit.
So, now that you have a better understanding of what it truly means to make a resolution, let’s get on with specific steps you can take to quit smoking come January 1.
The habit of smoking is as much about the mental and emotional addiction as it is about the physical or chemical addiction. Sure, you’re probably very addicted to nicotine and the physical act of puffing on a cigarette, but more important, you have mental and emotional ties to smoking that have become so engrained in your psyche that you believe you can’t make it through even one day without smoking. Cigarettes have become your friend in a twisted sort of way. They are your comfort during stressful times, and they help you pass the time when you’re bored. Smoking is a ritual, just like getting dressed in the morning or eating a meal at dinner time. Smoking has infiltrated every aspect of your life, from the friends you keep to the stores you shop at to the size of your savings account. Smoking to you has become like breathing—you do it without thinking, but without it you would die.
Or so you believe.
Belief is what this whole problem is about. And belief is the key to beating your habit.
But let’s talk about the very first thing you need to quit smoking: desire. Without the desire to quit you wouldn’t even be reading this, so it’s safe to assume you have some level of desire to quit smoking. On a scale from minus 10 to plus 10, with 10 being the absolute highest possible desire, what is your desire to quit smoking? As long as your desire is at least a one, then you have a chance to quit smoking. The great news is that you can learn to increase your desire level all the way up to 10! I’ll discuss desire and how you can change it later. Your desire for anything can be changed, usually in an instant, and I’ll teach you how to do that. You’ll learn how you move your level of desire for something up or down, just by imagining in your mind and feeling emotions. You’ll be able to increase your desire to quit smoking. You’ll be able to specifically reduce your desire for cigarettes and increase your desire for good health and freedom from smoking. So keep reading!
I mentioned earlier that belief is what this whole problem is about and that it’s also the key to quitting. What am I talking about?
When you believe something you accept it as truth or as valid, often without complete proof. But for all practical purposes it is truth, to you. If you believe the world is flat, you don’t dare venture out into the ocean more than a few miles, for fear of falling of the side of the world. Your world is the safe lands that are within your view.
If you believe you are a good student, your grades will reflect your expectations. Believe you’re dumb? Then you certainly don’t need to try hard in school and work toward going to college. You’ll just take any old job digging ditches. In truth, you may be the smartest ditch digger who ever lived, but the world will never know because you don’t believe you’re smart.
Our beliefs place us in the world where we think we belong, doing the things we think we should be doing, with the people we think we should be with. Do this revelation make you excited, scared or indifferent? I hope you would start to understand the possibilities of beliefs. You can think about ditches or you can dream of the moon. Your beliefs will take you to either one just as easily.
What does all this stuff about beliefs have to do with quitting smoking? Glad you asked. You must believe in yourself, that you have the ability to quit smoking successfully, permanently. Do you understand that? We might as well stop this whole show if you don’t believe that you have the ability to quit smoking because what you believe to be true becomes your reality.
Studies of smokers who successfully quit smoking show that one of the most important traits of a successful quitter is their belief that they have the ability to quit smoking.
Do you believe that you can quit? If you don’t, you will have a much harder time trying to quit. The best action you can take right now to start the quitting process is to fix in your mind the belief that you have the ability to quit smoking. You might say that you can’t change your belief, but you can. Nearly 1.3 million Americans will quit smoking this year. It is possible!
Believing you can quit is so important because your belief will guide everything you do in your attempt to quit. The way you think, the research you do, the steps you take, the people you talk to, the help you seek—all these will be influenced by the belief you have in your ability to give up cigarettes.
If you don’t truly believe you can quit, you’ll probably find yourself saying, “What’s one little cigarette? I’ve got a headache. I just can’t quit like other people.” If you believe you can quit, instead you’ll be saying “My head is hurting from withdrawal, but I can make it through this. I know the headache and other withdrawal symptoms will go away in a few days. My life is more important than a stupid cigarette.”
Believing shapes everything you do. So does not believing. If you believe something strongly enough your mind will give you the correct thoughts to help your body take you in the direction of your belief.
Can you imagine what life would be like if Thomas Edison hadn’t believed that he could invent the incandescent light bulb? If Edison had begun his search for the solution without really believing he could create a light bulb that worked, he would have quit long before finding the answer. Edison tested more than 10,000 combinations of materials before finding the right one to create a light bulb! You must believe that you can quit smoking, even if it takes 10,000 attempts.
Fixing in your mind a belief that you can quit smoking may sound impossible if you now believe that you don’t have the ability. Here are some tips to help you change your beliefs:
Realize that your old belief was founded on old ideas and circumstances and that your new belief is based on new information and your newfound desire to quit smoking now.
On 3X5 cards, write out several positive statements about your ability to quit. Read your cards three times a day: morning, noon and bedtime. Some statements to use: “I believe that I have the ability to quit smoking,” “I am a non-smoker,” “I no longer need cigarettes in my life,” “I happily quit smoking,” “It’s easy to quit smoking,” “I am a powerful, self-directed person,” “I control my own life.” Make up some of your own statements. Make them positive, as if you have already completed the task.
Post a sign on your bathroom mirror with one of the above statements on it.
Repeat the above statements to yourself, whenever you have a free moment.
Visualize yourself mastering your smoking habit and winning the fight.
Ask your family and friends to encourage you with positive statements about your ability to quit smoking.
Successful people in all walks of life become successful through planning. The same is true for smokers who successfully quit smoking. You must create a plan that you will follow daily, so that you quit smoking purposefully, not haphazardly.
Put your plan of attack on paper. Write each of these steps in your plan:
Smokers report that one of the main benefits they derive from smoking is stress relief. Taking five minutes to stop what you’re doing to go smoke is a relief in itself. The effects of nicotine also provide nearly instant stress relief to many smokers. Smoking is a break from the daily grind. We all need periodic respite from our work and associated pressures.
Key to becoming a non-smoker is developing stress coping mechanisms that do not involve smoking. People who have never smoked do cope with stress every day without even thinking about it! Isn’t that amazing? How do they do it without a cigarette?
You can still take your smoking break, just do it without smoking and don’t take your break with other smokers! Go for a short walk, walk up and down a flight of stairs, clean out your car, clean out your desk, etc. etc. There are a million diversions that can take you out of your stressful situation long enough for you to get your wits back. Make a list of smoking-break alternatives that you can do when you need a diversion.
Make sure you understand your stress. Know what causes it (phone calls, slow traffic, a demanding boss, etc.) and learn ways to avoid the causes or at least deal with them in a way that reduces the stress normally associated with the cause. Know how you react when you are stressed. Some people don’t realize they are stressed until they have reached the boiling point. Common indicators of stress include feeling sick to your stomach, headaches, excessive sweat, irritability, overeating and of course smoking. Watch for the signs that you are stressed so you can act to reduce the stress once you recognize it.
Reducing stress in your life can be a fun, rewarding and relaxing activity. Some simple ways to reduce stress include:
You know many of the benefits of exercise. It helps you deal with stress, but exercise also can play an important role in helping you to quit smoking.
Research shows that smokers who take up a regular exercise program have a much higher quit-smoking success rate. The higher the level of activity, the higher the success rate. Smoking and exercise simply aren’t compatible. A Gallup Poll found that smokers who exercised were twice as likely to quit smoking versus smokers who did not exercise.
Exercise can be planned as part of your “me time” as mentioned above. It’s a great escape from work and stress. Make exercise your great escape!
Here is a short list of some of the most common benefits of exercise:
To get started exercising you need to choose one or two activities that you enjoy. Common exercises include walking, jogging, biking, swimming, tennis, basketball, etc. You may even decide to undertake regular, strenuous yard work for your neighbors.
Try to exercise 20-30 minutes at a time, three to four times per week. If you are out of shape, give yourself time to work up to this regular exercise schedule. Consult your doctor before beginning your exercise program.
For many people, exercise is drudgery. Be sure you pick an exercise that you enjoy, and consider exercising with a buddy. Your buddy can encourage you to “keep moving” when you want to stop. You’ll also be more likely to exercise when another person is depending upon you to be there.
Your next step toward self-knowledge and quitting is learning what triggers your smoking. A trigger is anything that instantly engenders within you a desire to smoke. For example, the end of a meal may be a signal (trigger) to your mind and body that it’s time for a cigarette. In your “plan of attack” that you wrote down earlier, you made note of what triggers your desire to smoke. After reading the following, go back to your written plan and add to it if necessary.
Common triggers include people, places, events and stress.
People: when you are with other smokers you are more likely to light up. Also, certain people may put you under stress, encouraging you to reach for a cigarette.
Places: certain places are synonymous with smoking, such as bars or restaurants. Your smoking may also be triggered when you are in a place where you have smoked before or a place where you smoke regularly, such as a designated smoking area at your office.
Events: stressful or extraordinary events such as a family member’s illness or death can trigger stress, which consequently triggers your smoking. You may also tend to light up at sporting events, parties, or as mentioned earlier, the end of a meal.
Stress: As mentioned above, stress can be a trigger, causing you to reach for a cigarette. Cigarettes do have a legitimate calming effect on many smokers, encouraging the use of cigarettes as tranquilizers.
Stress is caused by numerous things in our lives and is most likely a daily influence in your life. Follow the stress reduction tips mentioned earlier to help cut stress when you are faced with your triggers.
I’m a big fan of Tony Robbins. He’s a businessman, author and motivational speaker who has continually helped me to realize my higher potential. In his audio cassette program “Live With Passion”, Robbins explains his system of “quality quantifiers.” I know that sounds complicated and difficult, but it’s really quite simple and powerful. Spend five minutes doing this exercise and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can change your craving for cigarettes.
First, let’s talk about your desire. Desire for what? Well, anything. Something triggers your desire, as we’ve already discussed. For example, when you smell popcorn in a movie theater lobby, you may immediately run to the refreshment line because you just “gotta have it.” Or perhaps you detest the smell, and your level of desire is already low on the scale of desire, in which case you’d want to get in the theater away from the smell right away. The same smell causes two opposite reactions. Interesting. Why? The trigger, or the smell cause the two people to search for a change in the qualities of the sensation and emotion they are experiencing. In other words, one person absolutely loves popcorn and the smell drives that person crazy with desire. They’re salivating immediately. The popcorn lover wants to change their current state or sensation from simply smelling it to the state of consuming it, moving the quality of the sensation way up on the scale. On the other hand the popcorn-hater wants nothing to do with popcorn and wants to get the smell out of their nose immediately, and therefore leaves the room as quickly as possible.
So we can have a level of desire somewhere in negative or positive territory, or a neutral, take-it-or-leave rating. So let’s use Robbins’ scale and call it plus 10 and minus 10. Plus 10 means you feel like you would do anything to get whatever it is that we’re looking at or thinking about. You absolutely love it, you couldn’t live without it and you want it now. When you get cravings for cigarettes and you feel like you’ll die if you can’t get a smoke, you’re probably at plus 10. Minus 10, on the other hand is when you can’t stand something, you wouldn’t take a million dollars to try it or taste it or whatever, and you don’t want anything to do with it.
We all have this scale of desire that we apply to everything in our lives. The problem is that we don’t think about it most of the time. We just live and let live, as life just blows us from one port to the next, one cigarette to the next.
The exciting aspect of the scale of desire is that you can actively control and choose your level of desire. And more important, you can change your level of desire almost instantaneously!
Don’t believe me? Let’s try it.
Get a cigarette out but don’t light it. Just place it in front of you on your desk or somewhere that you can see it.
Now, on a scale of plus 10 to minus 10, where are you regarding that cigarette? Are you at zero, with a take-it-or-leave-it feeling, or are you disgusted by it, and don’t want to look at it, perhaps a minus nine or ten. I’m willing to be that you’re somewhere around plus 8. We’ve been focused on smoking for quite a while now. If you’ve been reading for a few minutes without smoking, you may be ready for your next cigarette break. So I’m guessing that you are just about ready to pounce on the cigarette. But don’t do it! Just keep reading. This is where it gets exciting!
I want you to really feel this exercise. Do it, don’t just read it. This is very important! If you don’t have a cigarette in front of you, stop right now and get one. Then we’ll continue.
Now, if you’re not a plus 8 on the scale (meaning you really want the cigarette), what would it take for you to raise your level of desire to plus 8? What do you have to imagine or feel or see or do to raise your level of desire to plus 8? Perhaps you need to feel stressed or visualize a stressful situation. Maybe you need to imagine that this cigarette is the last one in your pack. Maybe it’s the last one left in the world! Imagine that you haven’t smoked in several hours or that you just finished a meal and you don’t want to miss you normal smoke break. Maybe you need to stare at the cigarette for a minute or two. Whatever you need to do to get to plus 8, do that now.
Ok, notice what you did to increase your desire. What did you think, feel, see, visualize, smell, taste and imagine?
Now raise your desire all the way to plus 10, but don’t smoke! This may take you a minute or two, but just be patient. Notice again what you did to get to plus 10.
Now before you give in and smoke the cigarette, drop your level of desire to plus 2 (Plus 2 means you “sort of” want the cigarette, but you aren’t dying to have it). What do you have to do? You may need to break the pattern by looking away from the cigarette or thinking about your car or the moon or physically getting up from your desk. What can you think about that will lower your desire? What emotions are you experiencing? Continue this until you are down to plus 2.
Now go to zero—neutral. You are following along and doing this right? If not, stop, go back to the beginning and really do this!
Now go to minus 2—meaning that you find the cigarette somewhat repulsive and do not want to smoke it. What did you do? What did you imagine? What did you focus on? Did you imagine what smoking would do to you? Did you see yourself in a hospital bed hooked up to a respirator? If you have children visualize their lungs. What must your smoking be doing to them?
Keep going down to minus 5 then minus 7. Think about the way you felt the first time you smoked. You felt sick and green didn’t you? Think about your black lungs. Imagine all the phlegm that must be oozing around down there. Ok, now are you getting close to minus 7?
Now, drop your level of desire all the way down to minus 10, where you are totally disgusted by smoking and never want to even look at a cigarette again. You may have to visualize some pretty gruesome images, such as your dead body, or your children’s dead body or your black lungs being cut open. Perhaps you thought about all the money you’ve spent on cigarettes. That’s enough to sicken almost anyone! Maybe you thought about getting cancer and having chemotherapy and losing all your hair. Whatever it takes to get to minus 10, do that now.
The images are powerful, aren’t they? Congratulations! Just a few minutes ago you had to have a cigarette. Now you don’t want anything to do with it. What changed? Nothing more than your level of desire, which you now see that you can fully control. Now that you’ve done this exercise, you can instantly go to any level. Now you can gain control over your state of urgency for a cigarette.
You have learned to break your pattern of you “gotta have it”. Lower urgency by changing your focus (think about something else), see smoking giving you pain, see gross things or bad, disgusting things; add things, remove things; study smoking and think about what it does to you. How will you feel in the end?
Get a clear target (the quality of experience that you want) then figure out what it will take to make it happen. What is the quality of an experience you want to have? What has to happen for you to feel this way? What conditions must exist? Make sure these are conditions you can control.
Part of urgency and heightened levels of desire for anything is the sense of scarcity or the feeling of loss. When you just “gotta have” a cigarette part of the urgency is probably an unconscious feeling that if you don’t get one right now you’ll never be able to get another one. Break this pattern by visualizing your pack of cigarettes with 10,000 cigarettes bulging out of the package. Remember that supplies are not “limited” like most advertisements try to convince you. Cigarette manufacturers make 6,050,000,000,000 cigarettes every year, give or take few billion. They won’t run out! So relax and don’t worry about scarcity. You can get more.
Many smokers who have successfully given up cigarettes have made several attempts to quit before they finally kicked the habit. You should know going in that quitting may be a lengthy, or even life-long, process. There is no failure as long as you still believe that you have the ability to quit. If you believe you will quit, you will! It may take three or four attempts before your quitting “sticks.” If you quit for a short time then resume smoking, you are one step closer to quitting for good. Just quit again. Practice makes perfect! Keep doing it Until. Until you win, until you quit for life.
You may find that after a first or second attempt to quit you have reduced the number of cigarettes that you smoke each day. That’s great! You are no longer as dependent! Now, go for the gold!
Great! You’ve finally quit smoking. You can finally let your guard down, right? Wrong. I’ve heard too many stories from smokers who said that they had quit smoking years ago, only to light one up in a moment of weakness, stress or just plain stupidity. They then found themselves smoking as much or more as they did before!
You can’t have “just one” and expect to not want another. Cigarettes are like the potato chips that tell us “nobody can eat just one.” Once you get started, it’s hard to stop.
Beware of situations that will expose you to other smokers. Avoid activities and places associated with smoking, such as bars or casinos. When faced with highly stressful situations remember the ways that you have learned to cope with stress without smoking.
Do not buy a pack of cigarettes, “just in case.” The temptation may be just too great.
Nothing will happen today to change your smoking habit unless you take the first step. You can’t win the battle if you don’t start the battle. The problem with too many unmet goals and plans is that no action was ever taken to start down the road to achieving the goal or plan. If you created your “plan of attack” above (you did create a plan of attack, didn’t you?) you now have a plan for quitting. What is step “a” of your plan of attack? Have you done it yet? Do it now! You must put your plan into action.
January 1st, 2000 is just another day on the calendar unless you decide to change your life. You have been given a great opportunity to quit smoking on the most memorable New Year’s we will ever see in our lifetime. Smoking is not Y2K compatible but there’s still time to reprogram your own miraculous personal computer—your brain and your body connected to it.
Good luck with your New Millennium’s Resolutions!
This article is adapted from another article called 11 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Quit Smoking which you should read for additional help when you are ready to quit