You finally did it. You made the decision to stop smoking. Listen up, having a stop smoking timeline can be very helpful as you explore a new life free of nicotine and cigarettes. In fact, this tool is an integral part of any successful plan. It simply helps to set expectations in a way that makes cravings manageable. How does this work?
A timeline helps to organize the sequence of events in your plan. For instance, the first step would be to find out what triggers your smoking response. So day one would be preparation. The next step might be to create a list of activities you can perform when the cravings hit. This helps to take your mind off cigarettes. So day two would be spent coming up with a list of distractions.
You can see how this idea works. They say a goal without a date is not a goal, but a pipe-dream. I would piggy-back onto that idea and say a smoking cessation plan without well thought out, day-by-day goals, is nothing more than a recipe for relapse. You should have the plan mapped out on a calendar - quit date, activities, support calls with phone numbers, goals, etc. The calendar timeine should be 12 months long. If you think you won't have any cravings in month 6 or 12 after you've quit, then you're fooling yourself.
Long Term View
You should have another 12 month calendar ready to go when the first year is up. The cravings are sneaky and can strike when you least expect it. However, this calendar may just ask the question, "Did you have any cravings today or this week?", "What did you do to overcome them?".
You may also want to start a benefit journal which details how you feel. Tracking your symptoms or lack of symptoms might be a good way to evaluate your progress. For example, you may notice changes in your heart rate, breathlessness or cough. All these symptoms follow a disease timeline as well, and should improve as you hit your goals and targets for cessation.
There are lots of items you can track, even the financial impact of no longer spending at least seven to ten bucks or more on a pack of cigarettes. Take the money you would be spending on tobacco and place it in a jar on the kitchen table. By the end of the first week, you could have a substantial amount of money which could then be used as a reward for following your plan so well!