Does your New Year always begin with the same promise to yourself to quit smoking? One of the hardest habits to kick, the best way of increasing your chances of success is to start putting in the groundwork now, not on the 1st of January. E-cigarettes may this week have been deemed to be relatively risk-free and "95% less harmful than cigarettes" by Public Health England , but still, nothing beats the power of the mind when it comes to bowing out of the smoker's corner and overcoming your dependancy. We consulted an expert on how to let go of lighting up altogether.
“What’s important is to create fertile soil,” says inspirational Get The Gloss Expert Andrew Wallas , aka ‘The Modern Day Wizard.’ “Farmers know how important it is to prepare the soil first in order to get a bountiful crop and a lot of us get into ‘magical thinking’ on the 1st of January - we say we’ll do this and that and then of course it doesn’t take.”
So what small steps can we take now to prepare both body and mind ? We asked Andrew for his 3-point action plan to make 2015 your most successful attempt yet for putting down the cigarettes for good...
Step 1: Find out how much you really want to change
You want to stop smoking and that’s great news - but to make the change stick, you need to be completely honest with yourself regarding how much you actually want it. Your mind may be saying one thing, but your actions another. Identifying what and how strong your intentions are now is what will facilitate change long-term. “The opposite of ‘magical thinking’ is ‘reflective intention’ - this is critically important because nothing in the universe is created without intention,” says Andrew.
So what can we do to focus our mind? “A practical thing you can do is take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Create two lists - on the left hand-side, write down all of the reasons you want to make the change and on the right, write down the reasons you don’t,” recommends Andrew. “This is important because it’s all linked to how we consciously say we’re committed to stopping something.”
An eye-opening way is to look at it like this: “If you’re a smoker, at least 51% of you doesn’t want to quit, as would have already done so already if not. Therefore 49% of you does. We’re not being completely honest with ourselves as the part of us that wants to continue is stronger than the other. It’s not as simple as we think. Once you’ve written it down, you can look at the situation more effectively.”
Step 2: Affirm that change
Once you’ve identified the part of your intention that needs to worked on, you can then move on to increasing that 49% with some visual reinforcement. “Spend 1-2 minutes last thing at night and first thing in the morning everyday creating an image or vision of the list of things you want to change so that you can start to strengthen that side of the equation,” suggests Andrew. “Imagine yourself as a non-smoker in addition to whatever you also want to change too.”
The key lies in recognising that there are two parts of you that want different things, “An important part of the process is not to completely eliminate the opposite as often we think we can get rid of it and it comes back stronger. It’s all about acknowledging both sides,” says Andrew.
Step 3: Motivation builds momentum
“Thirdly, most of us think that we can come from a lonely time and decide to change and change. It is very difficult though so what we need to do is create the space to change first,” explains Andrew.
This is an approach that you can take into other aspects of your life too. “The same goes for people who I meet who want to work less. They need to create the intention to work less, make the space for it and then what they’re looking for turns up.”
“All of these things interact because we like to underestimate the part of us that doesn’t want to change,” says Andrew.
The bottom line? “Recognising the part of us that wants to change is the smaller part. It’s about shifting it in the other direction to start the change process. Intention builds motivation - everyday that we don’t smoke builds more momentum for that intention and then you start to see yourself more as a non-smoker. It’s about building up that picture.”