Are you ever ready for change? In 2002 I gave up smoking. I’m not ashamed to say that up until the point that it wasn’t anymore, it had been one of my favourite things in the world. I started on my 16th birthday, boldly walking into the local newsagent and saying to the lady serving “well you know I’m 16 today, you have to serve me. I smoked a lot, even had a reputation for being a heavy smoker & it was something I owned proudly. Such was the state of my self esteem then.
But, I decided to quit, money being the motivator. I went cold turkey, i don’t even remember if nicotine patches had arrived in our world at that point.
I lasted 10 hours, before I thought I was going to lose the plot. I felt completely naked without my trusty packet of Sovereign, I was hysterical. Turns out, money wasn’t a big enough motivator for me to stop after all.
A couple of months later my then boyfriend took me to hospital because of chest pains that were spreading down my left arm. I was hooked up to monitors, but remember asking a nurse if I could nip out for a fag.
After what felt like an eternal wait, some blood tests and a chest X-ray, the Doctor came & sat down on my bed.
“Your heart is fine, you’ve actually torn a muscle in your chest” were his words. I breathed a painful sigh of relief. His next words weren’t so reassuring though “but, if you keep smoking 20 a day, you will be back here. I promise you that”. With that he got up and walked away leaving me with a huge dose of reality to swallow.
I quit the next day. Something that still doesn’t have a name had changed in my head. It was time to act.
What was the difference between success & failure? It certainly wasn’t being “ready”. It was about the truth that I knew I was responsible for saving myself, for making a tough choice, for giving up something that I genuinely loved for my own wellbeing.
In all likelihood you’ll never be completely ready for change. I’m not sure that it even exists. But the time to act comes when you wake up to what you need to do for you. When you get a warning that can’t be ignored , when you understand the short term effort is worth the long term gain. It’s not sexy, it’s not other worldly. But doing the right thing for yourself even when it’s hard, that’s pretty damn special.