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10 Tips to Quit Smoking Successfully

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Updated June 30, 2008

10 Tips to Quit Smoking Successfully
Photo © Leo Babauta
Leo, a member of the About.com Smoking Cessation forum, wrote these tips up to share with the readers from his excellent blog, Zenhabits. Geared toward helping people help themselves, Leo's site does a fine job of inspiring a person to try, and the quit tips below reflect his ability to motivate. Thanks for sharing, Leo.

I recently celebrated my 2-year anniversary of quitting smoking. Well, of finally quitting. Like most smokers, I had tried to quit smoking many times and failed. But this quit attempt stuck, and I'd like to share the top 10 things that made this quit successful when the others failed.

1. Commit Thyself Fully

Looking back on the quits that failed, I know I was only half into it. I told myself I wanted to quit smoking, but I always felt in the back of my mind that I'd fail. I didn't write anything down. I didn't tell everybody (maybe my wife, but just her). This time, I wrote it down. I wrote down a quit plan. I blogged about it. I made a vow to my daughter. I told family and friends I was quitting. I went online and joined a smoking cessation support forum. I had rewards. Many of these will be in the following tips, but the point is that I fully committed, and there was no turning back. I didn't make it easy for myself to fail.

2. Make a Plan

You can't just up and say, "I'm gonna quit today." You have to prepare yourself: Plan it out. Have a system of rewards, a support system, a person to call if you're in trouble. Write down what you'll do when you get an urge to smoke. Print it out. Post it up on your wall, at home and at work. If you wait until you get the urge to figure out what you're going to do, you've already lost. You have to be ready when those urges come.

3. Know Your Motivation

When the urge comes, your mind will rationalize. "What's the harm?" And you'll forget why you're doing this. Know why you're doing this before that urge comes. Is it for your kids? For your wife? For you health? So you can run? Because the girl you like doesn't like smokers? Have a very good reason or reasons for quitting. List them out. Print them out. Put it on a wall, and remind yourself of those reasons every time the urge to smoke hits.

4. Not One Puff, Ever (N.O.P.E.)

The mind is a tricky thing. It will tell you that one cigarette won't hurt, and it's hard to argue with that logic, especially when you're in the middle of an urge. And those urges are super hard to argue with. Don't give in. Tell yourself, before the urges come, that you will not smoke a single puff, ever again. Because the truth is, one puff will hurt. One puff leads to a second, and a third, and soon you're not quitting, you're smoking. Don't fool yourself. A single puff will almost always lead to a recession. Do not take a single puff!

5. Join a Forum

One of the things that helped the most in this quit was an online forum for people quitting tobacco. You won't feel so alone when you're miserable. Misery loves company, after all. Go online, introduce yourself, get to know others who are going through the exact same thing, post about your crappy experience and read about others who are even worse than you. Best rule: Post before you smoke. If you set this rule and stick to it, you will make it through your smoking urge. Others will talk you through it, and they'll celebrate with you when you make it through your first day, day two, three, four, week one and beyond. It's great fun.

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