I successfully quit smoking 10 years ago.

How I quit smoking and how to apply it to your own life.

Silhouette of a girl sitting on a bed while smoking
Photo by Gage Walker on Unsplash

I did it. I quit smoking.

Ten years ago, I decided I would never have another cigarette. We all know what that means in most scenarios. Everyone says “This is my last pack” or “This is my last one ever” without truly meaning it. I’ve smoked for a long time, so what made my decision?

I want to de-structure what worked for me in a way that’s applicable to anyone’s life. I’m not claiming to have a cure-all for smoking or other addictions in general, but I believe that most people can accomplish this if they truly desire. I’ll go over the even that lead to my decision to quit and then cover how I think this can be applied in different ways.

a man and woman sitting on a mountaintop gazing at each other.
Photo by GRAHAM MANSFIELD on Unsplash

It was all because of a girl.

I met the love of my life in 2012. Actually, I fixed her computer while working at Geek Squad and serendipity ensued. She happened to be one of my best friend’s classmates, worked across the street from me at a restaurant and seemed to light up when I came to grab lunch. One evening we decided to hang out in my car after she got out of work and started to get to know each other.

I don’t think I could date anyone that smokes.

One sentence from her and that’s all it took. We had been talking about friends and family members who were smokers and I had mentioned smoking off-and-on since middle school. I told her right then that if that were the case then I’d never have one again. At the time it was a joke because we were just hanging out, but I wanted her to know that I was interested. Either way, I never had one again.

A frustrated man with his head in his hands with the sunset in the background.
Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

It’s not really that simple.

I wasn’t smoking a pack per day or anything like that. I would have one or two on breaks at work and a couple in the morning or before bed. Still, it’s an addiction and stopping wasn’t easy. I threw my current pack away and asked anyone around me not to lend me any if I asked. Even then, I was always tempted. Every time I woke up, had a break, got home, ate dinner or went to bed it was always there. If I didn’t put a system in place to mitigate the cravings then I don’t think I would have been able to continue.

I’ve always been a “value” person.

If I was going to resist the urge, I needed to come up with a way to immediately push the thoughts out of my mind. I’ve always been into investing, money, and general value in things including the quality of life. So how could I use that in order to reinforce my need to quit smoking?

First, there’s the obvious reasons. I was interested in a girl that wouldn’t date a smoker. I could free up some monthly dollars to use on other things. My health should improve, etc. I think everyone knows the benefits of quitting smoking. But I needed more. I started to think of it like a battle with myself and then things started to become clear.

Forest path with a fork in it. It’s unknown where they lead.
Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

I had to put needs and values in front of the false “need” to smoke.

I only had one value in front of the urge to smoke and that was simply the fact that I wanted to date a girl that wouldn’t have it. I’d like to think that it was enough but I knew it was harder than that so I tried to find other things to back it up.

A small plant growing from a pile of pennies.
Photo by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash

I started to think of money differently.

Instead of focusing solely on smoking, I started to think about consumable items in general. If I wanted to advance in life, I needed to start using my money for more permanent things. That gave me an idea.

I had just gotten a new job that greatly increased my current income, so I decided to move. This would be my first true apartment that I paid for all on my own. It was in the area of my work and the rent was roughly enough that I didn’t really have much extra to think about spending on things like eating out, buying beer for the house or smoking.

I got a small credit card. I had a large list of collections to pay but I also needed to rebuild my credit. As the years passed I focused on settling my debts and keeping my credit to a minimum. I’ve gone from a credit score of 550 to 800 in the last decade and it took every day of that to get here.

A black Mitsubishi Lancer on a road with clear skies.
Photo by Aral Tasher on Unsplash

I bought a new car.

As my credit and income improved I wanted to keep moving forward. Instead of reaching a new level of comfort and buying into consumable items again I bought a car. It was on the cheaper end, a 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer ES. Still, it was brand new and I had to make monthly payments. I still have that car today with roughly 76,000 miles on it. It’s paid off and I’m happy to have made that decision. It’s also a car that I decided never to smoke in.

A profile silhouette of a woman.
Photo by Molly Blackbird on Unsplash

I got the girl.

Not only did we start dating, but we’re married now since 2015. We also bought her a car (another 2015 Lancer) and it has less miles than mine while also being paid off. She’s the light of my life. She’s also self-publishing books as a dream-job. We throw a lot of money at supporting her goals and it helps to see that as a much better decision than something like smoking.

A small red house on a hilltop on a cloudy day.
Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

We have a house.

Another large purchase that I promised myself not to smoke in. Living here since 2017 and it’s true to this day. I’ve had to fix many things while living here but never because of smoke damage.

A white crib against a green triangle wallpapered wall.
Photo by Ashley Walker on Unsplash

We have a child.

I never want my kid to take up smoking. I can’t necessarily control that, but I wanted to be an example of what was possible. I plan to be fully transparent with him when it comes to my childhood so that he can learn and be well informed. That leads me to never want to slip up and take on smoking again.

blurry image of a human silhouette pressing on glass.
Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

OK, but my life isn’t like yours.

Exactly. You can’t mimic my exact decisions and hope for the same outcome, but you can look within your own means and find things to put in front of your perceived need to smoke.

If I hadn’t quit smoking, I would likely never have gotten together with my wife. My finances wouldn’t have gotten better and I wouldn’t be nearly as healthy as I am now. Without my wife I would not own the cars and house that I do or have a child that I love with every part of my soul. My life would be completely different today if I hadn’t made the decision to quit smoking.

It’s not the intent that drives your success. It’s what you do with it.

So that’s it?

Absolutely. Find what drives your passions in life and make them real. If addicting habits and consumable purchases are getting in your way then remove them. You’ll find as your life improves that the decision to fall back into those habits becomes much less valuable or important, and it becomes second-nature to immediately dismiss or decline the thoughts and urges.

Thoughts?

Do you disagree? Do you find aspects of quitting difficult? Have you succeeded? Respond in the comments. I always like to hear if my stories make an impact.

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