As the end of the year approaches, everyone is looking back on how far they’ve come in the past 365 days, and how well they did on their 2015 resolutions. Achievements and accomplishments, beginning or ending relationships, vows to eat healthier and/or exercise regularly, to quit smoking or drinking, and any other promises they made to better themselves always seem to fall short. I am no exception. Year after year I’d tell myself “This year will be different! I’m going to stick to my guns, buckle down, and do what I say I’m going to do! My Resolution Revolution!” Then Valentine’s Day rolls around and the healthy, mostly vegetarian diet I had committed to begins to consist of fried food and Russel Stover’s.
Every year, my resolutions have all ended the same way: giving in to weaker desires, and a failure to commit to success…except one year. In 2013, on New Year’s Day, I quit smoking for good. January 1st of 2016 will mark three years I’ve been “smoke free,” and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. I’ve tried to break down what it was that made me commit to my decision to quit smoking, and have come up with a few interesting points.
- Prepare for the changes. I had to mentally prepare myself, think about how bad the nicotine withdraws would be, and how I would deal with them when they inevitably reared their ugly head. I knew there could potentially be headaches, and a possibility of over-eating to compensate for quitting smoking. Acknowledging the difficulties ahead made it easier to face them.
- Eliminate obstacles. I tried to quit smoking for years, but ultimately I had to just suck it up and do it. I removed anything and everything that was associating me to being a smoker. That included staying away from certain places, events, people, and even ending a toxic relationship where smoking and drinking were every day occurrences.
- If you’re not ready, it won’t happen. Admitting you’re ready to begin a journey, or end another, is the best first step you can make to change. You’ll know when you’re ready; there won’t be any doubt in your mind that you want to make the change.
- Replace the bad with the good. I knew how difficult it would be to break myself of cigarettes, and the time I spent smoking was free time to fill with something else. This is where I was concerned about replacing one bad habit with another, so I started running. Every time I wanted to smoke I’d go out and run. Even if it was a short run around the building, or going for a mile on the treadmill (that was a good distance for me at the time), I refused to give in. Knowing how awful it felt to run after smoking was the perfect deterrent for me.
If you have read any of my blogs or other articles, you already know I’m not a fan of running, and that’s being polite. The reason I started running was to replace my bad habit with a good habit. To this day, I still don’t call myself a runner. I prefer other forms of cardio, like swimming or cycling. Even burpees are more enjoyable than running, and I’m really not a fan of burpees. But the whole point was to quit doing something that was detrimental to my health, and replace it with something that would make me feel better. I liked smoking, but felt horrible after doing it, and could see the effect it had on my day-to-day life; with running it was the complete opposite. I hated running (I’m still not a fan, but I don’t hate it anymore), but I felt amazing after finishing.
New Year’s resolutions are a dime a dozen; easily made, easily broken. I had to be prepared to make a change before any sort of change could take place. If you’re not ready to commit, it probably won’t pan out. I did what was best for myself. You will know when you’re there, and when you are, I wish you the best of luck. The struggle is real; trust me, I know.