Why You Should Track Your Progress While Quitting
– To hold myself accountable, I printed out a full-year quit smoking calendar to track my progress. My goal was to track the days where I slipped up and smoked and to also take notes of what happened on those days so that I could prevent myself from making those mistakes again. I kept that calendar at my desk so that I would see it every single day.
I printed out a very basic full-year calendar with enough space on the page to leave notes. That worked for me but there are lots of other types of calendar printouts you can use. Here are a few good free calendars I’ve found:
- Free-printable-calendar.com – These are super basic calendars, like what I printed out for myself. You can print out a month at a time or you can print a full year.
- Monthly Goals Calendars – If you want something a little fancier, these are great calendars. These calendars are also designed with goal tracking in mind so there’s plenty of space for taking notes and tracking progress.
There’s a lot of research, such as this study, that shows the benefits of keeping a calendar or journal to track goals. Sharing your progress publicly increases success even more. Tracking helps you learn from your mistakes but also makes it easy to see your progress too. Seeing your wins can be just as powerful as seeing your mistakes, so I highly recommend doing something like this if you’re trying to quit smoking too.
My Smoking Habits
To give you a little background on my smoking habits and what I was up against, in 2010 (and all the years before it and even a couple after) I would hang out with my friends every single weekend and drink. I loved to party and I very rarely missed a weekend out with my crew.
It was on those weekends where you see the red highlights on my calendar because, like most smokers, I loved to smoke when I would drink. I would usually go through about a pack of cigarettes in a night. I was a very light smoker on weekdays though, so I would smoke maybe 2 or 3 cigarettes per day. Because of how little I smoked during the week, reducing how often I smoked was a lot easier for me to manage and I never slipped up once on those days.
My Two Month Journey To Quitting Smoking
This was my first day using my electronic cigarette. I think I actually got my e-cig in the mail a couple of days earlier, but this was the day I decided I would stop smoking entirely.
I was at my friend’s house drinking as usual. I hadn’t smoked or vaped at all during that week, so I figured the battery would be fully charged since I charged it the previous Sunday. Well, it turns out that even when not in use, those little cig-a-likes use up a little power. The battery died near the beginning of the night and I smoked a TON of cigarettes.
I slipped up and smoked again. I had a fully charged battery this time, but both me and my friend were vaping on it heavily so it died pretty quick. After the battery died, I only smoked 2-3 cigarettes, which was still a ton of progress for me. I usually went through a full pack of cigarettes during the course of a night drinking, so only smoking 2-3 was really good.
My electronic cigarette kept me from smoking any cigarettes that day, but it didn’t keep me away from smoking a cigar. I didn’t feel too bad about it though. Cigars never really satisfied my nicotine cravings like cigarettes did, so it didn’t feel like a major slip-up to me.
This was a little over 30 days out from my first day of trying to quit. I highlighted this day on the calendar because it was a huge win for me. I hung out with friends and didn’t smoke even one cigarette. My electronic cigarette was fully charged and it lasted me all day and night.
Now nearly 60 days in and I hadn’t smoked a cigarette in over a month, minus the one cigar I had last month. September 18 was the real test. This was the day of the Great American Beer Festival. This is one of the biggest beer festivals in the world. Even if you try to go light on the beer, you still end up drunk. Knowing this from attending in previous years, I went into this day thinking I was probably going to get too drunk to care if I smoked. And halfway through the session, my electronic cigarette ran out of charge and I smoked a few cigarettes. I didn’t keep track of how many I had smoked, but I was aware enough of my progress in quitting to keep my smoking to a minimum. If I had to guess, I had maybe 5-6 cigarettes.
And that was it! That was the last time I smoked. I officially quit smoking on September 19th, 2010 and I never smoked again! With a lot of willpower and the aid of vaping, I was able to quit in only 56 days!