Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking! There are several groups, websites, and hotlines that offer help with tobacco use cessation. The American Lung Association offers their Freedom From Smoking program. This is an effective program that you can access on their website's Freedom From Smoking page. You can also find a local organization that administers the program.
Review the 'Benefits of Quitting' on the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) website. The ALA also lists Reasons to Quit on it's website. After reviewing the benefits of quitting, consider your personal reasons. Write them down and post them somewhere you will see them frequently. Are you ready?
Simply put, it’s what gets you to take action. Motivation can be allusive; it’s there one minute and gone the next. It’s most allusive when trying to overcome a challenge or needing to do something that you don’t want or aren’t quite ready to do. Quitting tobacco use is one of those things. When you choose to quit using tobacco, you are setting a goal. The goal is to be tobacco free. You also craft a plan of action. You even choose rewards for yourself as you reach milestones along your journey. What you don’t choose is what motivates you. What pulls or pushes from where you are and what will keep you actively pursuing your mission. You will want to identify what motivates you.
WHAT WILL MOTIVATE YOU TO QUIT?
Let’s say that your doctor has suggested that you stop using tobacco for several years. You’ve heard all of the health warnings. You say, “I feel fine, I’ll worry about it when I start to feel sick.” Fast forward, you are sick. Your doctor now tells you that you have to quit. Motivated? If knowing about the dangers of tobacco didn’t motivate you to quit but experiencing them prompted you to take action, what happens when you no longer feel the effects? What will keep you on your journey? Many quit smoking programs suggest that you identify rewards.
REWARDS AS MOTIVATORS
Every challenge comes with the promise of reward. Sometimes the reward is simply being done with whatever the challenge is. Most quit plans include determining how you will reward yourself for reaching certain milestones. Rewards can provide some motivation; however, please keep in mind that your self-determined reward may not be your strongest motivator. Don’t get me wrong, rewards are helpful and provide positive reinforcement. Be cautious about using only rewards as motivators; especially those accessible to you even if you continue to use tobacco. What this does, is removes the impact of a strong motivator from your quit plan.
You will want a strong motivator for difficult change. Motivator strength is reciprocal to the importance or value that you place on the consequences of your action or inaction. For instance, if I don’t pay my utility bills, my utilities will be disconnected. I am motivated to pay them because I value electricity, running hot water, and my reputation and credit. Quick story. I was facilitating a smoking cessation program and one of my participants smoked only 2 cigarettes a day, one on her drive to work and one on her way home. She had tried quitting in the past but was unsuccessful. This frustrated her because she felt that "it" dictated her behavior. She wasn’t concerned about her health but she was concerned that she wasn't in control. She said, "I have control over my life except this”. She valued self-reliance and autonomy. Her motivation was gaining control. It was the strength of it that helped her to quit.
I hope that this article will help you identify and classify your motivators. They must be singly or collectively stronger than your challenge.