When I started the Conquer List, smoking was an obvious charter member.  As I write, I’m 5+ weeks since the last cigarette and the cravings are gone. How’d that happen?

The Conquer List is all about methodology; hunkering down and building out a holistic plan for killing the enemies of my goals. But smoking didn’t get conquered that way at all. Most habits take time to kill, like a slow strangulation. I had expected this for quitting something I’ve done pretty regularly since working a bar in Grand Rapids near the end of 2011. But it did not happen that way.

What makes the Conquer List so effective is that everything on it has a direct correlation to my top-level goals. Let’s look at two of them: becoming a Divemaster, and winning a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition. Being a Divemaster requires time, money, and health. BJJ requires the same. What’s something I can conquer that would give back more time, more money, and better health? Exactly.

So there I was at BJJ class, after about two weeks. This class was special because it was the first time I’d done an actual “roll”, which is a free-form sparring session. You’re essentially fighting a guy for 5 straight minutes.  This absolutely murdered me, and made me realize just how poor my conditioning had become. In fact, it reminded me of Day 1 at police academy which was difficult even as a 25-year old who didn’t smoke.

Walking out after class into the warm summer air, still gasping, I realized that I’d never get anywhere in this sport if the smoking continued. And so it stopped. The crazy thing is it was really just that simple. By the time I had walked the five minutes home, my mind had decided that BJJ was more important. Since that moment back in August I have had two cigarettes in total.

I understand that this isn’t going to work for everybody. I also went through the traditional remedies; spent lots of money on expensive gums and vaporizers. Phone apps with pictures of my crush du jour to motivate me to quit. Everybody is different and I expect that different things will work or not work. I do believe though that the mind can decide that there’s something important that it wants to do, and suddenly anything that doesn’t fit gets written over with something that actually helps get it what it wants.

Where the mind goes, the body will follow. -Arnold Schwarzenegger



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