Can’t Stop Smoking (Cold Turkey, NRP, Etc)? First You Need to Find a Real Reason to Quit


Most people who can’t get past the first few days as a nonsmoker can improve their chances greatly by simply re-examining their reason for wanting to give up smoking. Whether they are trying to stop smoking cold turkey or through nicotine replacement or hypnosis or any other method, the first and most crucial step is finding a strong reason to quit.

We all know the most common reasons for quitting (health money, etc) and, if you are having trouble making it past the first few days, chances are you are using one of them. These are all perfectly good reasons, but if you are just listing them because they’re the standard reasons and they don’t actually resonate with you personally, then the urge to smoke will always eventually win out over the urge to quit.

You need to find the ONE reason that doesn’t just make you WANT to quit; the right reason makes it so you NEED to quit.

In my case, I tried to give up smoking several times, but they were all half-hearted attempts. I wanted to be healthier and save money, but it always turned out my desire to keep smoking was stronger than either of those reasons. My friends smoked and my coworkers smoked. I loved taking a 15 minute break at work, going outside in the fresh air and enjoying a smoke with my coworkers.

I always told myself I could quit anytime, but chose not to because I was enjoying being a smoker. What I didn’t realize at the time was that there were plenty of times when I wasn’t really enjoying the cigarette, but was smoking it anyway. I was addicted.

This became clear to me when I switched jobs. All of a sudden, none of my coworkers smoked and the new smoking area was a dark, dank, smelly stairwell that was too hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. That’s when it hit me: if I continued to smoke under those conditions, I would have to admit I was addicted.

There was no other possible way to spin it: the nicotine was more powerful than I was. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that something had control over me, so I quit that day. It turns out pride was the real reason that got me to quit smoking.

You need to find that one reason that will push you over the edge. If you’re struggling to find one, try re-framing some of the standard reasons. Instead of saving money, quantify it. Say a pack is $7 and you smoke one per day. That’s 30 times 7 or $210 per month. Let’s round it down to $200 per month. Now don’t think of it as saving $200 per month, think of it as a $200 per month pay raise. A tax-free pay raise that you can get your hands on without having a single conversation with your boss.

Or how about this: do you have children? Let’s say you have a ten year-old daughter and you’re hoping to send her to college in eight years. If you put all of your $200 pay raise into a jar and save it over the next eight years, you will have $19,200. Yes, you read that correctly: you will have almost $20,000. And that’s if you keep it in a jar. If you invest it you can add compound interest to that figure. Really picture this-picture your daughter at her graduation from university, imagine the pride you will feel. All because you made the decision to give up smoking.

Health is a good reason to stop smoking, but telling someone their life expectancy will decrease by ten years if they keep smoking doesn’t have the necessary effect. Picture this instead: you die a few weeks after your 60th birthday. 10 months later, your grandson is born.

If you had quit smoking now, chances are you would have been alive to meet your grandson and he would have gotten the chance to know you as a person, not just as the yellow toothed, sickly old man he knows from the picture-the creepy looking guy with the tube in his nose and a big metal tank in his lap. Yes, that’s terrible, but that’s what you need to do.

Use whatever emotion works best for you to get yourself to a point where you need to quit smoking. Vividly imagine the happiness of spending time with your grandson or the tragedy of dying shortly before his death or just imagine how much beer $200 per month can buy. Whatever works for you.

If you’ve failed to quit several times in the past, what do you have to lose? Really examine why you want to stop smoking and come up with a reason that won’t wilt when those cravings hit, but will stand with you and give you the strength to overcome them.



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