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smoking-feature

“If my public announcements can help others, then my choices do matter.” – Bruce McIntyre, Choices Do Matter

I was a smoker.

Back in the day, nearly everyone smoked. We smoked in airplane cabins, restaurants, doctors offices (along with our doc). We smoked when and where we wanted and nobody made us go outside, in the rain, to do it. Besides, the tobacco industry said, “It’s good for your health” so we pretended to believe them, and kept on smoking.

My daughter showing off anti-smoking posters at school. She was always quite persuasive.

My daughter showing off anti-smoking posters at school. She was always quite persuasive.

But then the teachers at our children’s school started telling the students how smoking was NOT good for people. They were saying that it was actually bad, even for others in the room!

They had the children make posters about the dangers of tobacco and the serious effects it would have on everyone. They were scaring my kids, but they were RIGHT.

In those days, I always had several cigarettes in the pack next to the alarm clock, ready for the morning. One evening, in the Fall of 1974, I found I didn’t have any more cigarettes in my pack. I went to the kitchen junk drawer in search of a few more for my morning routine. All I found was junk.

NO CIGARETTES!

My son used to love to blow bubbles in the style of a smoker. It was about this time that he also started hiding my stash.

My son used to love to blow bubbles in the style of a smoker. It was about this time that he also started hiding my stash.

My son had done it again. I hurried to his bedroom, grabbed him by both shoulders and demanded to know where he had hidden the cigarettes!

Waking my not yet four year old son from a sound sleep and speaking to him in an angry voice was not good parenting. It was not a good choice. I knew that I needed to make some changes!

My changes needed to be quick, and I wanted them to be lasting. I needed to come up with a plan that would make this change last a lifetime.

The best way I knew to do it was to bet everyone for the next two months that when they saw me in 1975 I would no longer be a SMOKER. After they stopped laughing, I explained the wager.

“I will quit smoking on the first day of 1975. From then on, if you catch me smoking I will pay you $20. The bet goes forever, so even if you catch me in 20 years, I still pay you $20. There is no risk to you, but a big risk (and cost) to me if I ever smoke again.”

People were encouraging. They wanted to see me quit smoking more than they needed my $20. I made this one sided bet with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. All the names were on one piece of paper. I don’t have the list anymore, but if I smoke again and you tell me you were on my list, I owe you $20.

Dunhill Lighter

This is a Dunhill lighter, the zenith of smoking class and sophistication in the 1960s and 70s. I threw it in the fire.

At midnight, on December 31, 1974 I ceremoniously pitched all my cigarettes, along with my gold Dunhill lighter, into the roaring fire in our family room.

That holiday weekend was murder. I stayed in my pajamas, spending most of the time in bed. I knew if I got dressed I was off to the nearest store.

Work wasn’t any better, they were all on the list. “How’s it going?” “You doin’ okay?”

They were not concerned about my health; they had their hand out for the $20.

Sure, I could have stopped on the way home from the office and bought a pack at a gas station to smoke in secret. But that was never the plan. I was quitting, once and for all.

That was over 41 years ago. Never once – not even a puff – in all those years. My public plan worked.

It is not about saying, “I will do it someday.” I needed to write it down, put dates on it, and make it public.

That is why I made my Unifying Principles public so long ago. Also why I made my New Year’s Resolution of not buying any new clothes in 2016 public.

Of course, I could just do these things and that would be fine. But by going public two things happen. First, I put pressure on myself to comply. Second, others learn of my choice and may be moved to make similar choices for themselves. That gives my choice a ripple effect that matters more and for longer, I hope.

What about you? Do you make public announcements or do you keep quite about your plans? Will you give me some examples?

Do you agree with mixing your personal goals with any of your professional goals? Is this a good practice or bad? Again, share some examples with me, please.

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran

Epilogue

Raffy Ballesil has some similar beliefs. He is all about, “Connecting People, Changing Minds, Changing Lives.”

Ballesil says, “SUCCESS IS SO SWEET IF YOU BRING OTHERS WITH YOU.”

See if you agree: