What’s motivating you to quit? 

Finding out what’s behind your drive to stop smoking can be crucial in making sure you hit your goal and become smoke free for good.

We all have different reasons for giving up smoking, it’s important to spend some time really thinking about why this is for you. Two people might want to quit cigarettes for completely different reasons. One might want to be able to achieve their lifelong goal of running a marathon, which they can’t do breathless and smoking. One might want to do it so they can boost their health and stamina to spend more time with their grandkids. Whatever your reason, or reasons, keeping in mind your ‘why’, or what motivates you, can help ensure you succeed. 

The 2 types of motivation 

Extrinsic motivation 

Sometimes outside factors motivating you, like your GP telling you that you need to quit for your health. This is known as extrinsic motivation. Nothing wrong with having extrinsic motivations at play, but you don’t want them to be your only motivation. They rely on external factors, outside of your control and chances are if you succeed in quitting using extrinsic motivation any joy you feel will be fleeting and you could be tempting to return to smoking.  

Intrinsic motivation  

Intrinsic motivation is engaging in something for your own internal reasons. Wanting to quit for yourself and to improve your health is an example of intrinsic motivation at play. This type of motivation should provide you with feelings of achievement or success each step of the way. Plus you’ll be much more likely to stick with change if you’re doing something you like or want to do for yourself. 

‘Towards’ or ‘away’ motivation? 

As well as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, your motivation also falls into two other categories, Towards and Away. 

Towards motivation is where you work to achieve something because of what you’ll gain when you get there. If your motivation is ‘Towards’ you’ll be looking for the positives and focused on what you like and what you want, as well as solutions. You’ll be excited about where you want to be. 

Away motivation is the opposite, doing something because you want to avoid or move away from where you’re at. You’ll be thinking about what you don’t like and don’t want, as well as what the risks or ‘problems’ are. Away motivation can often sound more like a complaint. 

‘Towards’ motivations are much longer lasting. Once you achieve your ambition, you’ll notice the benefits you’ve gained so are more likely to continue what got you there. Away motivations are often short lived, once you are away from what you were avoiding you’re less likely to continue the behaviour because the threat or fear will have disappeared. 

Discovering what motivates you and keeping in mind ‘towards’ and ‘away’ motivation has the power to really supercharge your chances of quitting smoking for good. 


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