CAREER DEVELOPMENT / OCT. 22, 2013
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Smoking Away Your Career?

It seems that while working in an office environment, quitting a nicotine habit is virtually impossible. You know who your fellow smokers are, and rarely ever would your boss forbid you from going for a cigarette- yet that does not mean they are not watching and acknowledging when you do so.

I’m not going to lie, I write from an entirely hypocritical basis. I’ve only stopped for STOPtober, and I’ve even then I’ve slipped up once: hi there, I’m not perfect. Yet here we are, 18 days in, and I’ve smoked a naughty drag- I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of how far I had come. I no longer feel overtly aware when entering the office that I smell of Marlborough while they smell of toast or nice things. My pockets no longer have crumbs of rolling tobacco in, my nails don’t smell of ciggies when I’m picking at finger food, and I’ve treated my coat and bag to a wash so that they smell of nice things instead of stale carcinogens (things that give you cancer!) 

Come on, you’ve heard it all before and that old record is tiresome, yet trust me, it feels great to have that extra note in my wallet, and keeping the money I earn for the wholesome things that I like- and to be that much up for taking the stairs to my top floor office. It's great fun greeting everyone at the top, knowing they waited for the overcrowded elevator.

Depending on the person, an average of up to 75% of your smoking habit is oral fixation. So you’re scared you’re going to snack instead of smoke and pile on the pounds? Don’t worry, you’ll subconsciously be fitter to walk that much further and willing to exercise as your lungs clean up. This is statistically proven, shocker. It’s routine thing too, right? Morning cigarette, after meal fag? Not to mention the unforgiving social smoking from which escape is an impossibility? Have a chat with colleagues who you would usually smoke with: challenge each other to stay indoors and share tips on ways to overcome this oral fixation- talking alone is halfway there! It takes approximately ten minutes for an oral craving to subside. 

Routine is a mentality. Work is a routine. On average, it takes 30 days to consciously adopt a routine, and up to three months for it to factor in intuitively or to alter it. Remove the routine of cigarettes on the way to and from work, replacing them with apples, gum or lollies. Focus on the physicality of the journey instead: distract yourself from your craving by observing your external surroundings (and attractive non-smokers!) Turning to cigarettes when frustrated or stressed with phenomenal workload, is a classic routine stumble. Thing is, I would inevitably feel a secret voice making me feel that much worse for it afterwards! Now I throw my hairbrush or vent conversationally about it. While screaming into a pillow is one of the most agonising old-time clichés, much of the pleasure from ritualistic smoking is the regulation of breathing. Next time you have a cigarette (hopefully not too soon, after having adopted these ideas), think about how you breathe. Slower? Of course. Note down a few ideas on post-its and stick them to your computer as a reminder to breathe when you see that deadline-demanding email. 

Give your cigarettes to a colleague and make them dispense them to you accordingly. Make sure it is a non-smoker who preferably sits far away from you, and tell them to be strict. You have to mean this. This is a great way to hinder you from smoking, because hopefully you'll want to avoid annoying them.

This is also a fantastic way to count how many cigarettes you smoke. Be stingy when buying packets of cigarettes and make sure that after adopting the prior techniques, you never smoke more cigarettes than you did yesterday. That’s your generous limit: decreasing by one a day is easier than you think.

You do not need to be surrounded by your smoking paraphernalia. Make lighters scarce and keep cigarettes out of sight, preferably narrowing your smoking locations down to one specific place. This makes it less a daily all round activity, and a notable activity. I noticed the frustrating inconvenience and lack of desire to casually keep asking for a lighter and grew out of the habit- it happens fast when approaching those who don't appreciate being regarded as fire-breathers. 

Walk past your boss when you want a cigarette, if you are truly determined! This ought to deter anyone from superfluous smoking. Of course, if you refuse to cut down, this is potential career-suicide, yet it will make you realise how many times your boss potentially notices you cutting hours. This does not go unnoticed when your annual pay rise is being considered. Change in location is ritualistic in smoking- so why not nip to make a cup of tea instead of head to the smoking area? Your colleagues would probably love you for making one too, the process will keep your hands busy, and the drinking will slowly soothe your craving. 

In isolating your smoking habits, spend time with fellow workers who want to help you quit. Let them know what they can do to help- this includes fellow quitters, so you can motivate each other, or non-smokers who will force their over-bearing lack of understanding onto you to make you see sense! Seriously, they would love to help, and here’s motivation if nothing else: cigarette breaks cost Britain £2.9 million a year. This was calculated by averaging the British wage and summing the number of minutes spent smoking in work hours. And there we were being categorised as tea-drinking time-wasters! 

Don’t expect too much: cold turkey can be unrealistic, and will lead to a sense of failure and binging, with a mentality that you will never be able to quit. A slip up is not the end of the world- if anything, it can be used as motivation to see where you fell loose, identify what caused it, and target it with one of these techniques next time. This isn’t to condone those fall-backs! You can cut down and stop smoking far more easily than you give yourself credit for. Tie this into positive changes at work for an all-round new optimism- discussing this will your peers will provide refreshing insight.  Keep your hands, mind, mouth and happiness busy, and make yourself mentally present in non-smoking circumstances: you’ll feel an active contentment for much longer for it.

There we go, not a nicotine patch in sight! Don’t be afraid of substitutes, they’re your friends and will support you through the rewarding journey of getting your lungs back in shape. Ask you colleagues which ones work best and buy different types so that you can share your experiences and swap accordingly. Now there's a productive alternative to top-trump cards!

Share these ideas with your peers and let us know how it goes. Never be afraid to ask for tips and advice so that the ride to ciggie-free doesn’t get lonely.

 

 

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