10 Tips for Quitting Smoking

A Guest Post By Leo Babauta

I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary of quitting smoking (editor’s note, he quit in 2007). Well, of finally quitting … like most smokers, I had tried to quit many times and failed. But this quit stuck, and I’d like to share the top 10 things that made this quit successful when the others failed.

1. Commit Thyself Fully. In the quits that failed, I was only half into it. I told myself I wanted to quit, 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 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 quit 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. 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 day, every urge.

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, that 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 quitters (quitsmoking.about.com) … you don’t feel so alone when you’re miserable. Misery loves company, after all. Go online, introduce yourself, get to know the 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 urge. Others will talk you through it. And they’ll celebrate with you when you make it through your first day, day 2, 3, and 4, week 1 and beyond. It’s great fun.

6. Reward Yourself. Set up a plan for your rewards. Definitely reward yourself after the first day, and the second, and the third. You can do the fourth if you want, but definitely after Week 1 and Week 2. And month 1, and month 2. And 6 months and a year. Make them good rewards, that you’ll look forward to: CDs, books, DVDs, T-shirts, shoes, a massage, a bike, a dinner out at your favorite restaurant, a hotel stay … whatever you can afford. Even better: take whatever you would have spent on smoking each day, and put it in a jar. This is your Rewards Jar. Go crazy! Celebrate your every success! You deserve it.

7. Delay. If you have an urge, wait. Do the following things: take 10 deep breaths. Drink water. Eat a snack (at first it was candy and gum, then I switched to healthier stuff like carrots and frozen grapes and pretzels). Call your support person. Post on your smoking cessation forum. Exercise. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, BUT DELAY, DELAY, DELAY. You will make it through it, and the urge will go away. When it does, celebrate! Take it one urge at a time, and you can do it.

8. Replace Negative Habits with Positive Ones. What do you do when you’re stressed? If you currently react to stress with a cigarette, you’ll need to find something else to do. Deep breathing, self massage of my neck and shoulders, and exercise have worked wonders for me. Other habits, such as what you do the first thing in the morning, or what you do in the car, or wherever you usually smoke, should be replaced with better, more positive ones. Running has been my best positive habit, although I have a few others that replaced smoking.

9. Make it Through Hell Week, then Heck Week, and You’re Golden. The hardest part of quitting is the first two days. If you can get past that, you’ve passed the nicotine withdrawal stage, and the rest is mostly mental. But all of the first week is hell. Which is why it’s called Hell Week. After that, it begins to get easier. Second week is Heck Week, and is still difficult, but not nearly as hellish as the first. After that, it was smooth sailing for me. I just had to deal with an occasional strong urge, but the rest of the urges were light, and I felt confident I could make it through anything.

10. If You Fall, Get Up. And Learn From Your Mistakes. Yes, we all fail. That does not mean we are failures, or that we can never succeed. If you fall, it’s not the end of the world. Get up, brush yourself off, and try again. I failed numerous times before succeeding. But you know what? Each of those failures taught me something. Well, sometimes I repeated the same mistakes several times, but eventually I learned. Figure out what your obstacles to success are, and plan to overcome them in your next quit. And don’t wait a few months until your next quit. Give yourself a few days to plan and prepare, commit fully to it, and go for it!

BONUS TIP #11: THINK POSITIVE. This is the most important tip of all. I saved it for last. If you have a positive, can-do attitude, as corny as it may sound, you will succeed. Trust me. It works. Tell yourself that you can do it, and you will. Tell yourself that you can’t do it, and you definitely won’t. When things get rough, think positive! You CAN make it through the urge. You CAN make it through Hell Week. And you can. I did. So have millions of others. We are no better than you. (In my case, worse.)

 Editor’s note:  Lots of people have asked for this, so I pulled a guest post.  If you are interested in replacing some thoughts with positive ones and being more mindful of getting healthy, see the Work With Me tab as I would suggest the Gratitude Journal to keep you going on the right path.

5 Tips to Start Doing Things and Stop Procrastinating!

If you are anything like me, there is more to do on your “to-do” list than you could possibly get done.  That’s okay.  I will move things to the next day and then it’s fine.  Because surely by tomorrow I can get all this done, right?  Wrong.  Because tomorrow, I won’t get it done, so I will move it to the next day’s list:)  That’s the art of procrastinating.  I give myself a big window of time to get things done.

To be honest, the delay does not actually make me happy.  In fact, when I can check things off my list, I feel pretty good!  Putting things off can threaten my dreams and goals and actually make me feel pretty bad about my time-management skills.  Some of the things I might do in order to avoid doing something on my list is look at social media, check my e-mail, or decide to start doing something that pops into my head right this moment instead of writing (I did not just finish researching something I might want to write about in the future…when I could have been writing this article).

Do you avoid doing things, make excuses, or are you truly not able to fit it all in?  The reasons we might create sound really, really good!  Even in business.  I don’t feel like keeping this scheduled appointment because of x,y,z.  I need the perfect time to do this.  I am not sure this is the right time.  Many many people do this even in their wellness goals!  I can’t possibly start a new way of eating right now because I have a vacation, birthday, grandma’s visit, etc.  Fill it in with your reason you are putting off eating right:)  Yes, I have done all this too.

5 Tips to Start Doing Things (and stop avoiding things):

  1. Make a list of all the things that were on your to-do list from yesterday…or perhaps this week.  Maybe even this month.  Now, after that is finished number them in importance.  Take the top three, and see if you can enlist in help to accomplish them.  Could your kids, spouse, friend help or are these things you have to do alone?  Decide if you can delegate, but don’t delegate if it’s not going to get done.  Ask for help with a chunk of the item.  For example, say it’s too much laundry.  Could your children just fold theirs?  Yes.  Then get started!
  2. Visualize the task actually getting done and how you will feel.  I do lots of this, I know.  I do this because the brain undergoes a type of change called neuroplasticity, and while I am not a doctor or scientist, I find brain research really amazing.  In the field of wellness, it has changed my life and the lives of many others who use this technique.  I use this in the yoga classes I teach, my journal therapy, and my online course 4 Weeks to Wellness.  Belief changes brain chemistry and brings about immune, hormonal, and physiological changes throughout the body, so believe you can accomplish your task.
  3. Give yourself a time-out or consequence if you don’t finish your task by the date you picked.  If you prefer positive reinforcement, you can do that instead.  If I clean the whole house before the kids come home, I can take a long bath in peace and quiet.  If I don’t clean the house before the kids come home, I am going to be stressed out, and that doesn’t help the situation.  It could be something like, I am going to remove the social media app X because I know it distracts me.  I know lots of people who do this one.  One girl who runs a business removed her entire personal account off social media…and only gets on through her husbands.  I am not suggesting that, but some people know where the distractions are.  You probably know too:)
  4. Declare your goals in a small group!  You have to find the right group though…not a competitive one, or one where everybody says oh it’s okay.  Just put it off until you feel ready.  We are all looking for that assurance that we can put everything off until tomorrow Scarlett.  Accountability partners are great to help you with not wasting time.
  5. WRITE it out on sticky notes, on a list, on the fridge, in your phone, etc.  Have it visible and fresh in your mind what you need to get done each day.  If it helps you, make monthly goals at the start of each month, then weekly.  Then daily.  I know this is crazy, but I actually do this.  For the month of July, my goals are ____.  I write them in my journal.  On my planner I have weekly goals.  On the day I have daily goals.  I love to check things off!

Remember, this ties in with my Manifesting Journal Tips

Do it nowDo you need even more support in a group?  Read Head|Heart|Health tab on the top of the blog.

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3 Things You Can Do To Supercharge Your Ability To FOCUS and Create POSITIVE Outcomes

I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Maria.  She is my guest blogger today, and her bio is at the end of this post!

We all have dreams, ideas and goals…but it’s only when you take ACTION that dreams take shape. Action makes dreams come true. Action is the only way to achieve results.

With hectic schedules, a society so heavily indebted to instant gratification and “bigger, better, faster, more…” how is it possible to stay focused on what you want to achieve?

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” ~Peter Marshall

When big projects and big ideas are in front of you…sometimes the enthusiasm from your inspiration gets watered down and you experience analysis paralysis. The reality is, however, that it’s better just to get things done and they don’t have to be perfect.

In fact, there are very specific things you can do to achieve massive success, if you’re willing to open the gateway to more clarity and improved action that help you stay focused:

1. Invest in your mind and body by starting your day between 4am and 5am doing the same ritual you can easily commit to EVERY DAY. Your ritual should nourish your mind and body AND be so simplified you can do it on “auto pilot.” For instance, begin by hydrating your body with warm water and lemon, stretching and meditation. More important, as you become accustomed to early hours, you’ll find that no matter how many people live under the same roof with you…YOU will find time alone without interruption. You’ll discover your body will benefit from the hydration and stretching and your mind will also find clarity, flexibility and more inspiration about the things YOU choose to focus on.

The Ayurveda lifestyle believes in routine and that one should wake up about 1 to 1 ½ hours before sunrise so that your body can synchronize with the rhythm of the sun. They consider this time most auspicious and meditation at this time helps your mental performance.

As an early riser you’ll discover time to work on the projects that matter to you. By waking up early you get a head start on your day and your schedule. The most creative and productive hours tend to be early morning hours (while most others are sleeping).

Think about it. If you have an average 40 hour work week…adding even only one hour a day to your day, you’ll have nearly one additional work day added to your week! Early morning will give you the biggest benefit because it’ll be uninterrupted. You’ll own the day, rather than the day owning you.

“If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you are willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.” ~T. Harv Eker

2. Schedule Your Day using the Ivy Lee Method. At the end of each day write down a list of the 6 MOST IMPORTANT things you need to accomplish for tomorrow. Prioritize them. Each day concentrate on the first task until it’s complete and then move on to the second task. Repeat the process every day. This may sound simple but it has some very deep roots that inherently force you to stay focused and it’ll have you make the (difficult) decisions necessary to fully complete the task at hand. You can read the story about how one of the richest men in the world, Charles M. Schwab, President of Bethlehem Steel paid Ivy Lee $25,000 after receiving this advice for free solely because of the tremendous value it brought him and the progress it gave his company.
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” ~Jim Rohn
3. Remove the mind clutter from decision-making. In other words, instead of having to make choices every day about various things in your life (stealing time away from your focus), make more of your decisions and tasks streamline. Like item #1, starting your day with a ritual so easy you can do it on autopilot…what other things can you do to save time so that you can invest more time in other more important actions?

For example, did you ever notice Steve Jobs wear the exact same thing every day when he was with us? That’s right, jeans and a basic black turtleneck. Or how about Mark Zuckerberg…aside from Facebook, he’s known for wearing jeans and a hoodie. They both saved time by eliminating the burden of daily choices via their apparel. This alone has been documented and found to be a common trait and mindset of the successful entrepreneur.

Another way to remove mind clutter from decision-making is through meal planning. I choose the same breakfast smoothie every day. It’s a no-brainer, healthy, and easy. I also encourage busy moms to make Saturday or Sunday your cooking day and make foods to have available the rest of the week for lunches (chicken, lentils, washed/cut greens for salad, soup, cut apples with lemon juice, etc…). It saves time thinking about what to eat and removes the incentive to go out to eat (something less healthy). This goes a long way to saving you time during a busy week AND it keeps you healthy AND if you’re eating healthy…the mind stays clear, making it easier for you to focus.

There’s a reason Mind-Body-Spirit are lumped together. When they’re working in alignment, you’ll be operating with everything you have available to you (coming from you and through you).

“We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things,
we can accomplish those goals.” ~Steven Covey
The three tips in this article give you the ability to master your day so that you can invest your valuable time rather than spend time on less valuable things.

Mastering your day is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself: magnifying your focus, improving your action plan, ultimately gaining you results.

The bottom line is this…no matter what plans, dreams, goals you have…if you can’t lead yourself in doing them, there is no way you’ll be able to lead others no matter what area of life you’re wanting to focus on (from personal to professional).

Maria_bioBIO: Maria Flynn is the creator or OneWiseLife.com (OWL) an online magazine dedicated to helping you tap IN and turn ON your inner wisdom and create the life you love. A Reiki Master and Intuitive, Maria has also been researching and writing personal development articles for nearly 10 years, using this medium to help herself and others around the globe.

Stop listening to fear.

Stop Listening to Fear.

Originally published last July 2014.

Procrastination.  Excuses.  Reasons why your path looks like Billy’s from The Family Circus when he had a job to do.  I don’t want to hear it.  We all know deep down what’s holding us back and usually it has one name.  Fear.  You need to pull a Bruce Willis on that thing and just go for it.

Things do come up.  I know they do.  But if you let these “things” get in the way of your goals, then your life will become a string of excuses.  I meant to do that, but…   We were going to, but…  I’m not saying I don’t have my own fears because I do.  I certainly do.  It’s just that I am ridiculous when it comes to them and do stupid things to get over them so I can move on.  Like the time I got bit by a snake, then was afraid of snakes for a while.  So then I volunteered at the local Virginia Living Museum, and learned how to stick my hand in a pillow case and pull out a snake.  Yes.  True story.  I also learned how to identify which ones were venomous in my area.

Quitting my job when I had no extra income was like sticking my hand in that pillow case.  I knew when I went on my “sabbatical” I was never going back.  I knew I needed more.  Starting my business was that more.  I love getting messages from clients asking me for help.  That’s brave of them as well.  They have tried lots of things to lose weight, feel better, get healthy, but for whatever reason, fear, they need a little extra help.  And that’s ok.  I did too!!  I was afraid I was going to stay stuck at my old weight forever.  When I got on the scale and realized how much I weighed compared to old me, I was shocked.  At 5’2 I knew I needed to get a handle on it.

When I put all my research skills into formulating a plan that worked best for my diseases and body, I knew I was finally on the right track in December.  I have now lost 15 pounds, but I am not done.  I have 6 more to go, and the extra 21 will be gone.  I am going to be adding yoga back into my routine again and I will also write about that.  I have been being a taxi cab, so I made excuses why I didn’t make it to yoga.  I sat down today and wrote out the yoga schedule so it was in front of my face!!! I know that going back worries me.  I am afraid it will hurt because of my existing pain, but I know that it will help me.  I have researched exercises for fibromyalgia and this is one of them.  So, I’m going to pull a Die Hard and go for it.  Stick your hand in that pillow case folks.  Go for it!!

No fear

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Ways to Overcome Cravings.

It never fails…you sit down at night to watch T.V.  The kitchen is closed for the night.  Closed.  But you start to watch your favorite show, and you get distracted.  You think you need food.  Here are some helpful tips to help you determine if food is really what you want.

Ways to Overcome Cravings

  1. Remember your goals.  Write them down and put them on the fridge.  If you happen to go there, you can see your goals.  Your brain will shift and remember your long-term goals and hopefully ignore the cravings you have.
  2. Drink a glass of water.  A lot of people don’t realize that drinking a glass of water can be a great tool for making you feel full.  Proper water intake actually helps you metabolize food and without the presence of water, your body might not be able to get the nutrients it needs.  Many food cravings are based on your body’s need for specific nutrients.
  3. Get moving.   If your craving triggers you to get up, why not pair it with something you want to get done.  If you think you need a snack, tell yourself you can only have one after walking around the block.  Or lifting the kettle bell for 10 reps on each side.  You get the drift.  It will help you form new habits instead of eating mindlessly just because it’s there.
  4. Take a hot shower and relax.  Give yourself a sauna type shower so that it opens your pores.  When you get out, you will most likely have forgotten your craving.  Have a large glass of water by your bed or some hot tea and relax and get ready for the day ahead.  If you are not in the area where food it…and your mind is then on bedtime routines, it really does help.
  5. Out of sight.  This one sounds easy, but if you live with someone who is constantly getting up to fix snacks late at night and making all kinds of noise in the cabinet, you are actually going to want some of whatever they are having.  I asked my husband long ago to help me stick to a plan.  It was hard at first, but it gradually became easier.  I also make sure that only veggies and fruits are there for me to reach.

Last but not least for me, I drink greens in my water to help me fight against sugar cravings.  There is so much more I could tell you that as I began to heal my sugar cravings, and the “gut”, things began to improve in many areas of my life.  To read more about the program I developed based off my research check out >>> Work with me. <<<

Overcome Cravings

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