I used to smoke. I don’t mean I’ve had one or two cigarettes and cutely didn’t inhale. I mean, I smoked for 13 years.

It started like any bad habit – a combination of peer pressure and boredom behind a small-town bowling alley.

I spent years trying to quit with no success:

  • First I cut out the “given” smokes – the ones after meals, while driving, or while having a coffee break.
  • Then I switched to a brand with no additives to lessen the addiction.
  • Then I only let myself smoke with certain friends and only if they had cigarettes.

But I still smoked. One day after digging through my neighbors ashtray trying to find the remains of a butt long enough to light, I realized enough was enough.

I wanted to quit.

At the time I was getting into self-development and reading Jack Canfield’s tome The Success Principles (aff. link). Being a self-help junkie, most of the ideas in his book weren’t new to me, until I read Principle 35.

Principle 35 is simply this – “99% is a bitch; 100% is a breeze”. 

He explains “once you make a 100% commitment to something, there are no exceptions”.

That means you don’t waste energy deciding every day if you’re going to work out or not. You don’t spend time debating if you’re going to cheat or be monogamous. You don’t wonder if you’re going to do what you said you would. You just do it.

It wasn’t like a lightbulb went off in my head – it was like the entire DC electrical grid light up in my brain.

For years I had tortured myself with cyclical questions and reasoning. Should I smoke today? Do I want to? If I don’t want to, should I have one to prove I don’t want one? Should I bum one from that guy? Maybe so-and-so has some…

Being 99% committed was exhausting.  

Energy I could’ve been using to write more, volunteer, read, cook, learn to knit – anything – I wasted continually debating the same old decision. I wasn’t fully committed.

The day I read Principle 35, I quit smoking for good.

In the years since, I’ve had a one or two with friends, but I don’t worry about it anymore. I’m not perfect, but I don’t waste energy on it. I don’t seek it out, I don’t wonder about it, and I don’t beat myself up about it if I do. I’m no longer a smoker and that’s that.

Is there something in your life you’re that waffling about right now? If so, ask yourself – are you 99.9% committed or are you 100% committed?

Because if you’re 100% committed, then just do it. 

Stop texting him, skip the wine with dinner, start writing your book, get up earlier to run, launch your business, schedule 15-mins to meditate. Just do it.

You are the only person who can change you.

You’re the only one who can create the life you want.

Be free. Be brave. Be YOU.