Never give up. Quitting is for losers.
Those well-meaning phrases are a good philosophy to live by if you are trying to achieve a dream or ambition which is currently beyond your reach.
We all know there is no substitute in life for determination and hard work and tirelessly trying over and over again to do whatever it is you have to do to reach the goals you have set yourself.
But what if giving up is the big goal? And what if the thing you need to give up to achieve the goal is a chemical addiction you have which means every fibre of your being will be screaming at you not to give up?
Then what? Can that same steely determination to achieve something be turned around to achieve not doing something instead?
I am, of course, talking about smoking.
At the time of writing I have been smoke free for four weeks. In three days I reach the one month milestone.
After smoking for almost 30 years, I woke up two days after Christmas and decided enough was enough. That night I smoked my last cigarette before I went to bed – and that was that! So far, so good.
But even with the aid of nicotine replacement patches and an e-cig, it has been hard.
Usually, if I set my heart and mind on something I reach my goal.
‘I don’t consider myself a quitter’
But now that’s exactly what I need to be and setting my heart and mind on “giving up” is sailing into unchartered waters.
It’s taking unprecedented levels of determination every day not to reach for my old menthol flavoured friend – but I do have a track record in using my stubborn streak to help me succeed.
My mum often tells this tale.
She recalls a parents evening she attended in the year I was due to take my GCSEs, My German teacher told her that unless I pulled my finger out, I had no hope of passing my exam that summer.
I threw a good old fashioned teenage strop, saying I hated the subject and couldn’t care less if I didn’t pass, and what did the stupid teacher know anyway? But Mum claims he knew exactly which buttons to press to achieve the desired result.
A few short months later I sailed through the exam and picked up a B grade. Mum claims it was because I couldn’t bear for him to be right.
As much as I hate for her to be right, there is an element of that within me. I hate for people to tell me what I can and can’t do/say/achieve/go/wear etc.
For several years now, I think deep down I have known that smoking has taken on a “sticking my middle finger up” defiance of everyone who kept telling me I should give up.
I obviously know the health risks of smoking, and my smoker’s cough and sometimes nasty chest infections bore out the message that smoking is not good for you, to say the least.
But in my own stubborn way I refused to bend over and let those people who liked to lecture on the harm I was doing myself “win”.
Of course, I want to be around to see my children grow up. Naturally, I don’t want to die a slow and painful death from lung cancer or one of those other nasties associated with smoking, but just who do you think you are telling me what’s best for me and what I should do?
Of course, rationally I knew that weren’t lecturing me for the good of their health. They were doing it because they cared. But that didn’t mean they could tell me what to do, right?
Of course not. Like any addiction, I guess, the decision has to be yours to finally do whatever it takes to quit.
So finally at Christmas I reached that point. I realised that although those who have nagged me over and over about quitting might be “winning” if I finally heed their advice and ditch the fags, I win too. In a major way.
Hopefully it means I will be around to see my girls grow up, maybe get married and have children of their own.
I won’t smell of smoke all the time and I’ll be saving a couple of hundred pounds every month too. Those reasons alone are not to be sniffed at.
And hopefully it means I will be fit enough to achieve everything I have set out to achieve in my new business venture. Coughing and spluttering my way into work stinking of cigarettes is perhaps (OK, definitely) not the way to be the inspirational business woman I aspire to be.
This year I have set out a big goal for myself – to make Rant Media a financial success.
It seems smoking no longer fits into the life I want.
It’s time to re-evaluate and weed out those things that are no longer serving a purpose and holding me back from realising my ambition.
Some, like the smoking, will die hard. For years, smoking a cigarette has been the “punctuation” of my day – get up, cigarette, coffee, cigarette, drive to work, cigarette, hour’s work, cigarette etc.
Although the patches are dealing with the nicotine cravings quite well, quitting a pattern of behaviour so deeply ingrained in what it means to be me, will take longer and a fair amount of willpower.
But as with everything I do, I am determined and just stubborn enough to refuse to fail at quitting.
All those people who doubt I can do it – you won’t win, I won’t let you be right!
Now it’s time to embrace new habits and ways of thinking and doing things.
An addiction to dried fruit and nuts has already snuck in – I guess it could be worse, although my waif-like waistline is already seeing the effects. Some would say, that won’t hurt either.
So, it this aspect it appears I am indeed a quitter – and proud to be.
It’s a difficult journey and one I’m only just beginning. But I’m truly hopeful that by succeeding to quit, I will lay the foundations to never give up on succeeding.