Why EVERYONE needs a Quit Date


I don't think it's just because I am a doctor that I have heard the phrase "quit date" so many times. I think it has become part of our vernacular, mostly associated with a chosen date on which someone may attempt to give up, say smoking or sugar, whatever the vice may be. In medicine, we are also well versed in the fact that it takes an average of at least three times to quit smoking since we have the most literature on that. So by definition, a quit date is not necessarily final, it's an attempt, a "Lets see what happens." But without it, we have no accountability or way to really draw a line with ourselves. Well, I have started to use "Quit dates" with many of my patients with much more than smoking and I am here to tell you that I am betting you need one too. 

A Quit Date is more like a date with yourself. It's a date, anywhere in the near or far future, where you decide you are going to give up something. It's a call to action. I will offer you that I think we all need a quit date every now and then for self-pity or a way of being that doesn't serve us. A date when we commit to stop waxing negatively about something and reframe to gratitude. 

I have used this in many ways but I will give a couple of examples and I am guessing you will find a way to use it yourself. 

A Quit Date for complaining about your job....I am not saying your job may not be awful or an environment in which you cannot thrive. I am just saying that constantly complaining about it will do you no good. When our mind is full of toxic clutter, i.e. our complaints and negative thoughts, we cannot make change, we cannot find a solution. So what if you pick a Quit Date when you say instead of complaining about it, you will reframe to anything that helps you sweep out clutter. You can remain authentic. Maybe you reframe to "I am grateful this experience is waking me up to understanding what I really want." Do you see how this is still authentic but moves you forward instead of keeping you in stagnation? Or "I am grateful that I can see that I need a job that will help me be more of who I want to be." 

A Quit Date for Complaining about how Life has treated you unfairly....We all fall prey to this way of being either for short or longer spurts. Venting turns to complaining until it is hard to hear the positive come out of our mouths. Those of you who know that I am a big fan of honoring your emotions may think this sounds like putting a smiling face on even when life feels unfair. That's not it at all. What I am saying is that there are ways to acknowledge the hardships of life without letting them control you. Maybe it's "I am grateful that I am awake to my life and can see both challenges and joy." You actually will have more wisdom about what to say, I can't possibly know what's right for you. But reframe to something, anything that doesn't bog you down in the quicksand of negativity.

A Quit Date for complaining about how busy you are! See, now I have probably struck a chord with most people out there. Do you notice how much we walk around saying things like "Things are so crazy right now." Or someone asks how we are and we say, "So busy!" I feel like this is one of the simple ones I fall into the most often. And it's a sneaky, sneaky one because it's not outwardly negative but it's so burdensome to always be complaining about how busy I am when a) I am the only one who can change that and b) I am busy because my life is so blessed with beautiful friends, family and work. Do you see what I am saying? All blessings can be contorted when we are not mindful or aware. I remember when I would walk around with my three young children under the age of 5 and someone would open the door and say, "Wow, your hands are full." I am not sure what is meant by that statement but it always felt like a backhanded sort of that-looks-so-not-fun comment. I would always answer, "Better full than empty," to remind them and MYSELF that this is a blessing. 

So, we can all pick a Quit Date today. A Quit Date for something we are carrying around that is not serving us. A way of being, a way of seeing something, a way of carrying our life.  We can Quit that way and pick up a new way, a way of Gratitude. A way of awareness.

What Quit Date can you choose today? 

It doesn't matter when it is, just pick one, near or far.

Quit what does not serve you and choose Gratitude instead.

Remember a Quit Date is an attempt and sometimes we slip back into our old ways, I know I do. And so, we pick a new Quit Date and start again. This is the human way. We try, we do, we retry and redo. That's why we call it a Practice, my friends.

Live (and Quit) well,


Tanmeet SethiComment