I remember that pressure. Almost as soon as the chimes died away, and the last bars of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ faded into the night, that fear. That utter fear. What if?
What if I could not keep my promise, to myself, and more importantly, to others? What if, like so many times before, I failed?
What if I could NEVER stop smoking?
Looking back, this was the cruellest deception of all. The worst con-trick (and there were many) perpetrated on my brain by our old enemy, the Nicotine Brigade.
Because stopping smoking isn’t scary at all. Not unless you are looking to be scared, or piling pressure on yourself by quitting on a specific date. And on which date do most smokers try to stop?
That’s right. Perhaps the worst day of the year to attempt it. New Years Day. A time for new beginnings, a time for a fresh start, and given all that, a time for another cigarette if ever there was one! The very thought of a bright new dawn was enough to make me want to light up and smoke myself hoarse. What would that brand new day be without a cigarette? Much more scary, who would I be? Where would I go, and what would I do, without my constant companion?
I now know, having studied the secret art of stopping, that the answer was simple. I would be exactly the same person as I was before. The only thing absent would be the cigarette. But the first lesson as I set out on this secret quest was simply this.
Never, ever pick a date to stop smoking.