Quitting smoking doesn't start with tossing out the cigarettes. It starts long before, during the weeks and months it takes to realize that you're finally ready. This process doesn't happen all at once, and it doesn't happen the same way for everyone.
1. Can you imagine life without smoking? If you have smoked for much of your life, tobacco is part of most of your memories. As you become increasingly ready to quit, you'll start imagining what your post-quitting life will look and feel like. Can you imagine a morning routine that doesn't include smoking? What will your work day look like without smoke breaks? How will it feel to go on dates or job interviews without wondering if your clothes smell like smoke?
2. Have you processed the fear of change? Change is stressful and scary to humans. We don't like the thought of losing our comforting routines and learning new ones. With addictive habits like smoking, the fear of being unable to stop--even when we want to--adds extra anxiety. It takes time to get past the fear to a place of confidence. You can tell you're there if your brain is telling you that you'll be okay even if it's hard. You've done hard things before, and been successful, it will say. You can do this too.
3. Are you done making excuses? Excuses are your mind's way of telling you that it's still afraid to change.
At first your mind will make so many excuses you won't be able to notice them all, but over time you'll notice there are only a few big ones, like "My life is too stressful, I can't do it without cigarettes." "I don't want to get fat." "I'll never be able to quit, it's too hard after all these years." These ones are the ones you want to pay attention to. They tell you where you're going to have to educate yourself in order to make this decision stick. Learn about stress management techniques and healthy eating and exercise, or read the inspiring stories of people who quit and gained years of healthy, happy life.
Answering your excuses positively is great preparation for quitting smoking. When you're ready, your brain will be so used to your positive self-talk that it won't even bother with excuses any more.
4. Do you have the support you need? The early stages of preparing to quit smoking are often very private. Smokers get tired of being nagged by family members and friends to quit, and often feel defensive if the subject is brought up by others. You are most likely to ask for support--a very good idea, by the way, and proven to help you quit successfully--when you're very certain. If you have already asked your loved ones to stand by you while you quit, chances are that you're truly ready. If you are still keeping your decision to yourself, you may still be working through some feelings of shame or fear that still need to resolve.
5. Do you have a plan? "I have to quit smoking," is a great place to start the process of thinking about quitting, but it's not the end. Being ready means you have a clear plan in place that includes: nicotine replacement if you're not going cold turkey, techniques for getting through cravings, strategies for dealing with side effects like irritability and insomnia, and specific people to ask for emotional support. If that plan isn't fully formed yet, you can begin to develop it one piece at a time, knowing that may be a slow, steady process.
There's no foolproof way to quit smoking and stay that way, but if you use these questions as indicators, you may save yourself a couple of failed tries by waiting until you're truly ready. If you need some inspiration on how to have a healthy lifestyle and eat well, download the following eBook for some useful tips: