Just like learning to ride a bike or sink a free throw, quitting smoking takes practice. For some, it takes more practice than for others. Some people give up smoking on their first try, but we can’t all be the MVP of the game. Some smokers relapse at some point along their quitting journey—and that’s ok.
Think about your previous tries to quit and use them as a learning experience. Repeat the stuff that helped you stay away from cigarettes and plan a different approach for the stuff that tripped you up. Study your opponent (that would be your addiction to cigarettes if you’re following the analogy!), learn your own weaknesses, and play smarter each time you hit the court.
Let the off-the-backboard shots, missed alley-oops, and innovative plays remind you that few succeed at accomplishing a goal without practice, practice, practice. Slipping up and having one or two cigarettes is ok - you can still get back on track. One mistake is likely not the be-all-end-all for the game. Players pick themselves up and continue the fight to win the game. Take this mindset with you as you travel through your quit. Don’t let a slip-up become an excuse to go back to smoking. Instead, consider the experience practice and make a plan for coping with specific temptations and urges in the future.
You always want to keep the end goal in mind: a smokefree life. If you’ve tried several times to quit, keep doing something if you know it’s helping but also try something new this time. Consult a healthcare professional to see what options are out there to help you quit. Support from a healthcare provider, which includes counseling and medication, can double your chances of quitting smoking successfully.
In an interview conducted by Time magazine, Dr. Michael Fiore, a professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin and founder of the school’s Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, recommended that quitters “anticipate challenges to the upcoming quit attempt. Smokers know what’s going to get them into trouble,” he said, “and if they practice coping strategies or plans before they quit, when they’re in withdrawal, they’re much more likely to implement those plans and make it through those dangerous situations.”
Smoking is a journey just like a complete sport season: by learning how to quit, through practice, quitters are more likely to make it to the championship and successfully quit smoking.