I'm not going to lecture anyone who's still smoking. Seriously, I can't judge you.
If you want to quit, however, this is what worked for me, and why:
- Don't wait for January 1. You doom yourself from the start if you play that game.
- Be ready, but not stressed about it. For me the best time to quit was when I woke up one morning, realized that I'd smoked the last cigarette in the pack the night before and didn't have any more in the house. That kind of timing just works.
- Take it one day at a time. Anything else can get overwhelming.
- Don't use crutches -- the side effects can really suck and you can blame your failure on them, rather than your own failure to stick to your guns.
- Treat cravings like you would a cranky child. Most of the time simply not engaging will nip it in the bud. Sometimes, however, the most effective way to stop a kid in the middle of a temper tantrum is to mimic them by throwing yourself down on the floor and wailing, pounding the floor and rolling around. Silly? Yes. Effective? Yes. (Positively refreshing sometimes!)
- Say "I quit," not "I'm quitting." Words are powerful things, and positive statements can really reinforce your resolve.
- Take responsibility for your own behavior. It's not your friend's fault if you backslide: It's yours. Suck it up and be a grownup, pal. (And, even though I haven't backslid, if you do, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. Don't beat yourself up and make a big deal about it.)
- Pat yourself on the back each day for making it through one more day, especially if the cranky craving problem child has been particularly naughty that day.
Now I'll have to figure out how to celebrate this big milestone, and I promise it'll be something good.
A big "Thank You" to all of my friends who've provided encouragement throughout the year!
P.S. -- If you love someone who smokes and want them to quit, here's what not to say to them. Guilt, love, science, rationalization -- none of it works, and just makes most of us dig our heels in and get way more stubborn.