Upon arrival of a New Year there’s tendency to declare New Year’s resolutions. This time I’d like to talk about my previous New Year’s resolution—quitting smoking.
I’ve been smoking for 17 years since I was 19. At the beginning of 2008 I stopped smoking cold turkey, and since then haven’t looked back. It has been a year now. I thought I’d share my experience in case others are interested.
Obviously there were many reasons that led to the decision to stop smoking. I was concerned about my health; I wanted to live longer and healthier life. Also, my wife and I are trying to get pregnant, and I wanted my kids to grow up in a smoke free environment.
But there was a trigger that made me decide to stop smoking at a certain moment—the morning of January 6th, 2008. I woke up and went out to the garden as usual with my morning coffee and smoke. In the days preceding to that morning I watched a program called Everest in the Discovery channel that accompanied a group of climbers in their expedition to Mount Everest in 2006. One of those climbers was Mark Inglis (http://www.markinglis.co.nz/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Inglis). In an earlier expedition to Mount Cook in New Zealand in 1982, Mark and his climbing partner Philip Doole got stuck in an ice cave for thirteen days due to a blizzard. They got severe frost bites. Both Mark’s legs had to be amputated below the knee. 24 years later, Mark climbed the Everest with prostates.
Back to the morning of January 6th, 2008, as I was walking in the garden with my coffee and smoke, I thought about Mark and was inspired by his will power. I figured that the will power I need to gather to stop smoking is nothing compared to Mark’s will power, and simply put, I haven’t smoked since.
I wish I could say it was easy, but it wasn’t. At the beginning it was hard. Your mind and body develop many associations between events and a smoke. When you’re happy you smoke, when you’re stressed you smoke, when you’re sad you smoke, when you find a solution to a problem you smoke, and so on… One of the toughest parts in quitting smoking was that there were so many things that a smoke got associated with that it was hard not to smoke in all those cases. I was also afraid that I won’t be able to concentrate well without the smokes. And I just started writing the first of three books about SQL Server 2008.
I didn’t use any patches or gums or drugs because I didn’t want to replace one addiction with another. But what I did find helpful was a book by Allen Carr called The Easy Way to Stop Smoking (Sterling, 2005). Even though I read this book after I stopped smoking, it helped me not giving in at the early stages when I wanted a smoke. The book helps you apply the psychology to convince yourself that the need for a smoke is an illusion. Whenever I wanted a smoke I was able to rationalize that, not giving in to the immediate need for a smoke is easier than having a smoke and then coping with delaying the immediate need for the next one. Not sure if this makes any sense to you, but this logic helped me tremendously. It’s interesting that when I was a smoker, nothing anyone would say really had any impact on me. It was the moment that I decided that I wanted to stop that made the difference. Anyway, if you want to stop smoking, I recommend reading the book.
After a few months it became much easier. Today, after a year, most of the time I don’t even think about it. And in the few cases when I do, it’s very easy for me to get over the need. The air is cleaner, I don’t cough like I used to, my cloths don’t smell like they used to, and I feel safe now bringing kids to this world. I do recommend it wholeheartedly.