Tim, one of our Tobacco Treatment Specialists, was recently on a 4 day outdoor excursion, and was reminded of the importance of having an anchor when making an important decision such as stopping smoking.
Tim was on a strenuous four day hike with ten others through a mountainous region. Two of his fellow hikers were smokers. One, Jacob, had a supply of cigarettes with him, no intention of quitting, and smoked regularly during the first few days. The other, Avi, intentionally did not bring cigarettes on the hike and was “kind of” making a quit attempt.
During the course of the trip Avi didn’t appear at all bothered or tempted by Jacob’s smoking. In fact, he seemed pleased with how well he was faring without smoking. However, he didn’t have a clearly identified reason for quitting, nor did he relate why it was important for him to quit. In other words, he had not anchored his quit attempt in bedrock of things that were significant to him.
About half-way through the third day of the hike, Jacob ran out of cigarettes. He seemed okay with this, but was looking forward to smoking at the conclusion of the hike on the fourth day. When the hike was completed there was a celebratory lunch. Jacob quickly sought out cigarettes, and Avi was easily swayed to join him muttering something such as “a cigarette would taste really good right now”.
Perhaps this just wasn’t the time for Avi to quit. He may not have been ready. However, having observed his pleasure at being smoke-free for four days, Tim couldn’t help but wonder about the outcome if he had anchored himself to the idea of being a non-smoker.
Everyone comes to the decision about when to quit in their own time and own way. Once you are ready, the more strongly you anchor yourself to your own reasons for why stopping is important to you, the more likely you are to be able to withstand the wind and waves of temptation and opportunity to return to being a smoker.