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Recently, I was invited to speak at a conference about habits. Good times. Someone asked me for advice on how to quit smoking.
I figured I'd share what I said with you because I think you'll find it very useful - even if you don't smoke.
BTW: I'm proud to say we've helped many people quit smoking over the last 9 years.
Here's what I said:
1) First off, I'd make sure you truly know why you want to quit smoking. Without a compelling reason why, it's hard to change anything. Write out five aspirational reasons why you want to quit and read it often. Ideally, every morning and night and whenever you're feeling tempted. Sounds all woo-woo but it really does help.
Negative motivation (e.g. I don't want to cough anymore, I don't want to die early) helps people start, but having a positive motivation (e.g. I want to be able to run for more than 8 seconds so I can keep up with my kid) helps people stick with it.
[Many of us start out disgusted with ourselves but then as we inevitably progress that disgust turns to feeling content. Yay! What happens when that disgust is no longer there, though? The positive motivation keeps us going. Better to focus on who we want to be than who we don't want to be.]
[BTW: Progress can be inevitable, if you're on the right program.]
2) Next, I'd go through your day and pinpoint the times you're most vulnerable aka triggers. Is it when your boss is being a jerk? Is it when your kids aren't listening? Is it after a meal? Is it when you're overwhelmed? Really get specific and think about when you want a cigarette the most.
3) For each instance, let's create an if/then scenario.
-If your boss is being a jerk then you'll go for a walk.
-If your kids aren't listening then you'll chew gum.
-If you feel stressed then you'll listen to music.
4) The key is doing this before you're vulnerable. We grossly underestimate how tempted we'll become in the moment. This is known as the hot-cold empathy gap. This is why planning - and ideally preparing ahead - is so key.
Check out this hilarious scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm ----> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCX_TcKDr4w (safe for work) that perfectly demonstrates the hot-cold empathy gap.
5) Know your associations. Does smoking always happen with certain activities? Let's write down those activities and come up with something else to do.
6) What else can you do? Most people try to do nothing when they're attempting to stop a behavior/habit. It's easier if we do something else instead.
Want to stop eating dessert every night? Don't stop having dessert. Enjoy a healthier dessert instead.
7) Get accountability. Having someone there when the going gets tough and to keep pushing you and supporting you is absolutely critical. The first 25 cigarettes you don't smoke are easier to avoid as you're highly motivated. But motivation fades.
What does that mean exactly? Think about how "motivated" people are on January 1st. This is why gyms are crazy in the beginning of the year and empty by early February. Motivation is fleeting.
Having a system of support and accountability is essential. They'll help you remember why you're doing this and keep you going through all the inevitable highs and lows. They won't let you off the hook. They'll challenge you...no matter what! :) (The 'no matter what' makes more sense if you watched the Curb scene referenced in #4 above).
8) Understanding there will be discomfort and planning for it. To think there won't be any discomfort is delusional. Change is hard. Otherwise, we'd all be and do exactly what we want. And change by nature is uncomfortable.
If we do what we've always done, we'll feel comfortable. If we do something different, by nature, we'll feel uncomfortable...until it becomes our new comfortable.
Let discomfort be your compass. When we feel discomfort, we know we're headed in the right direction.
If we plan and prepare for the uncomfortable times, and have a proven system of support and accountability on our side, it'll make the discomfort a lot more tolerable. Dare I say -- it makes it enjoyable.
It makes all the difference. It's the difference between sticking with it and reaching your goal vs it being just another failed attempt.
While this was for quitting the habit of smoking, I believe this can be applied to many things we want to improve like our health and fitness.
P.S. There's a few reasons why we get the results we do. One of them is we offer daily and personal accountability like no other service in the world. Because we do, I know we can help you stick with it - through the inevitable highs and lows - better than anything else out there, and ultimately get you the results you want.
So much so, that we offer a money back guarantee. I've made it a no-brainer for you to give us a shot. What are you waiting for? Join now. There's never a perfect time to start. Together, we'll make it happen.
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