How motivated are you to stay smoke free? If the answer is very, that’s great. If it’s not, don’t worry. There’s a simple psychological trick you can use to boost your motivation and ensure you stay smoke free at the same time. Oh we love a win-win around here.
But first, let me explain why motivation is so important. If someone held a gun to your head and said they’d pull the trigger if you smoked the chances are you wouldn’t. Now obviously that’s not going to happen very often in real life1 (I’m British, we understate things) but what it demonstrates is that our desire to do or not do something plays a pivotal role in whether that thing happens. It’s not the only factor, but it is probably the most important one. If we don’t feel motivated we’re not going to do what’s difficult. But when we feel motivated enough we can conquer mountains.
Here’s the weird thing about behaviour: we have an amazing ability to find justification for almost anything we do. It’s called cognitive dissonance in psychology, which basically means that when we do something that doesn’t align with our attitudes or beliefs we are more likely to change our attitudes or beliefs than our behaviour. For example, if we smoke even when we know it’s not healthy we change our attitudes so that smoking becomes healthy for us (“it helps me relax”, “it de-stresses me”, “it makes me feel good”).
Here’s the trick. If we do something for our quit everyday our brain will say to itself “Hmmm, seems I’m really committed to this. Look at all the things I’m doing! I must be very motivated.” It sounds strange, I know. But it works. We can use cognitive dissonance to convince our brain into thinking that our behaviour means we really want to give up. And then very helpfully, our brain will increase its motivation to stay smoke free.
We don’t need to do big things every day, apart from resisting cravings of course. Even small things, done on a daily basis, will increase your motivation to quit. For example, you could set a timer and spend 10 minutes searching Google for the harms of smoking and benefits of quitting. You could go on a forum and share what’s going on for you or help others with what’s going on for them. You could complete the smoking diary on the app and record not just how many cravings you had, but how you felt that day, what struggles you had and what you did to overcome them.
If you’re struggling for ideas our missions will set you a short, task every day for the first month of your quit. And to be honest, I think the reason they almost doubled our users’ chances of quitting is not because they’re brilliant techniques (though of course they are) but simply because if you complete a mission each day you’ll end up thinking of yourself as the super motivated, cravings crushing, going-to-beat-this-thing person you can be.
1 The real life experience of a gun to your head for smokers is suffering a serious health issue. A 2017 study found that smokers admitted to intensive care were highly likely to quit smoking after they were discharged. Quit rates were even higher if people thought their illness was smoking-related (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29137583).