How and Why I Quit Smoking

I think the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve accumulated countless missteps, was smoking my first cigarette. Literally one drag got me hooked. Afterwards, as I constantly reassured myself that one more cigarette wouldn’t hurt, I believed that I would eventually quit. But After twenty years, and only one smoke free year during that span, I was beginning to believe that I would never stop.

Then fate happened. I’ll start telling you how…

First off, I remember, as I look back upon my childhood, a particular family gathering. My dad had set a monetary goal for himself, and boldly proclaimed it to his brothers. His elder sibling scoffed at it, claiming my father was nuts.

Did my father attain his goal? Well, no, but he’s far better off because he had attempted to reach that mark. And while he didn’t reach the dollar amount forecasted, he obtained his true aspiration: financial independence. I don’t think he’s had a boss, other than my mother, for over thirty years…maybe more.

So with that in mind, I’ve learned to set my own bench marks. I’ve also learned to strive for my own financial freedom. I appreciate how hard my father worked. So, years back, I got a second job.

What does any of this have to do with quitting smoking? I’ll get to that in a second. While at my second job, I was asked to work a four hour shift. I know, that’s a short shift, yet couple it with my day job and it’s a chore. On top of that, I was a pack and half a day smoker. So, four hours with out a cigarette, yeah, I needed a break.

What I hated, because it was dishonest as all hell, was sneaking out to smoke. Smoking wasn’t permitted on the property. So that, coupled with health and money reasons, motivated me to quit.

So set the goal and achieve it. But…what if I didn’t follow through? Would I be consumed with doubt and frustration? Probably…but quitting that nasty habit…it had to happen.

I had decided, as I was beginning to view the feat as impossible, that I would make a diligent attempt. You see, through the VA, I receive behavioral health counseling. With that, after every session, being that psychologists are mandated to offer, I’d be asked if I planned to quit smoking. No matter how I answered the question, I’d be handed a box of nicotine gum. Through the years, I had amassed an arsenal of habit breaking aids.

So, with nicotine gum overflowing from my medicine cabinet, and New Year’s only a few days in the past, I made a late resolution; I’d quit! and I’d do it fast! This is what I mean by fast: instead of the suggested six week program, I’d lessen my weening period to two weeks.

Why do that? Because I knew that, during the entire weening period, the fact that I was quitting would continuously be on my mind. And, if I were to attempt the suggested six weeks, I felt some incident would emotionally derail me. So, using the same theory that brought about cessation aids, and the suggested dosage intervals, I cut the time down to a third. With a lot of determination, and keeping my mind occupied after my last piece of gum was tossed, I quit…for good!

I really think, if I hadn’t taken such an all out approach, I’d still be smoking today. Hell, with my asthma, I might have died before now.

The journey differs for all who attempt to quit. I guess it depends on one’s personality and situation. Still, what I’ve described today is my own journey, and maybe, because I really hope it will, this suggestion will help someone else.

Remember, this not a passive task. An attempt to quit smoking is an event, and you must prepare for it. Reduce stressors and temptation, have a plan of action, and realize you’ll be tried emotionally during your quest. I really think that is the best advice I can give.

Take Care and Safe Travels!

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