Attainable Goal Setting Strategies

Setting Goals to Stay Smoke-free


Use goals to help you stay motivated throughout your quit.


People who create goals often accomplish significantly more than those who do not identify goals. This is because goals help you to clearly define what you want to achieve, give you focus and motivation to stay on track, and raise your self-confidence when you successfully reach a goal. Your larger, overall goal is to quit smoking, but creating smaller goals that are more manageable stepping stones can help you achieve that ultimate goal.

Here are 5 steps to help you create goals that will help you quit and stay quit.

1. Identify a few clear, concrete goals that are time-bound.

First of all, you should not overextend yourself by setting too many goals and then losing focus. Keep your goals to a minimum so that they are easy to remember. When you accomplish them, then you can add more. Secondly, your goals should be realistic, actionable, and focused on activities that can help you stay smoke-free. Lastly, give each goal a time frame for when you plan to finish it by.

2. Write your goals down.

Having a goal written down with a set date for accomplishment gives you something to plan and work towards. It’s setting your intentions in motion.

3. Tell someone your goals.

By telling your quit buddy, roommate, colleague, or someone else you trust who sees you often, it can lead to encouragement throughout your quit process and support to help you stay on track. Just make sure the person/people you tell your goals to are supportive of your quit.

4. Don’t punish yourself if you don’t meet a goal.

Goal setting is about improvement and NOT perfection. If you slip up, re-evaluate your goals. Perhaps you set expectations a bit too high and need to make them more realistic. Regardless, take some time to regroup and then get back on track the following Monday! And remember, often the best things for us take work to get.

For some people, adding a consequence can be a helpful motivator if you don’t meet goal. If you think this may be a useful tactic for you, then consider a consequence that is also positive in nature. For example, if you miss a goal, do 100 push ups every day for a week or donate $100 to the American Lung Association.

5. Reward yourself for meeting a goal!

Rewards – no matter if they are free or paid, small or big – are great acknowledgements of your successes in your quit and will help you stay motivated as you move onto your next goal. Go on a picnic with friends or use that money you saved not buying cigarettes on a luxurious spa day.

Now that you’re armed with these tips, decide what your goals will be! Need some ideas? Here are a few:

  • Goal: Get rid of all ash trays, cigarettes, and other smoking triggers within the next three days.

    • Reward: Ice cream!

  • Goal: By a week from now, reach out to a friend who has quit smoking and ask him/her to be my quit buddy to offer support throughout my quit.

    • Reward: Take out myself and my quit buddy to the new Thai place I’ve been eyeing.

  • Goal: Sign up for portrait drawing classes by two weeks from now.[I can use this new creative skill to help distract me when I’m craving a cigarette by keeping my hands busy and my mind on something else].

    • Reward: Buy some art work from my favorite local artist


Quitting smoking is a difficult process, but, with the help of goals, you can soon be on your way to living a tobacco-free life.

1. What goals can you set for yourself, and how would you reward yourself for meeting those goals?

2. Who would you share your goals with?

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©2019 by Christopher Thompson.