To Quit Smoking for Good, Quit Smoking for Yourself

As winter gives way to spring, if you’re thinking about your New Year’s resolutions at all, it’s probably with the realization that they didn’t stick. You’re not alone. For most people, New Year’s resolutions are kind of like holiday decorations—excitedly hauled out at the same time each year, then generally out of sight by the end of January.

To make a successful personal change—like quitting smoking—you have to have a reason, one you really believe in, deep down inside.

In Pivot, we call your reason for quitting smoking your “why.” Your why is your internal compass. It keeps you moving in the right direction regardless of what’s going on around you, and it can help you get back on track if you’ve stumbled off course. Find it, and everything else comes into focus.

Want to find your why? Answer these three questions:

What does smoking do for you?

Weird question to start with, right? But here’s why it’s so important. There’s a reason you smoke: It does something for you. Maybe more than one thing. Understanding what you would be giving up by quitting—and whether those things matter to you now—will help you identify what quitting means for you.

What does smoking prevent you from doing?

This one’s probably easier. Smoking can get in the way of all sorts of things—time with friends or productivity at work (smoke breaks), for example. Or it could be all the things you would spend that money on if you weren’t buying cigarettes. These can be little things, like going to the movies more often, or big ones, like vacations. Identify what smoking is preventing you from doing, and you’ll be set up for the final question:

What matters most to you? 

You’ve thought about what smoking does for you. And you’ve been honest with yourself about how smoking is interfering with your life. Now, it’s time to answer the most important question: What really matters to you?

You already know all the reasons you should stop smoking. But those reasons won’t get you very far if they aren’t what matter most to you.

Maybe the idea of better health, by itself, isn’t super important to you. But maybe being able to play with your grandkids—something that better health would let you do—does matter. Or maybe feeling like you’re in control of your life matters more to you than anything else, and you’ve realized that cigarettes—and the companies that sell them—have a lot of control over you.

Align quitting smoking with the things that you truly value—with the ways you want to define yourself.

So, that’s how you get to your “why.” Be honest with yourself about what smoking gives you. Be just as honest with yourself about what smoking takes away from you. And, finally, ask yourself how quitting smoking lines up with the things that matter most to you and with the ways you want to define yourself.

The answers to those questions will give you a reason that is yours alone—one that will be with you no matter what and that can keep you going if your quitting journey gets tough.