Changing Behaviors - Essay Sample

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Sewanee University of the South
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The behavior I want to change is smoking. I started smoking when I was a teenager which has affected my health, appetite, and enthusiasm for various activities I once loved. My need to change the behavior is because in the recent past I have stopped engaging in sports due to fatigue. Sports activities defined my character in high school. In addition, the behavior could lead to lung cancer, impotence, and dental problems (Herrick, Herrick, & Mitchell, 2010)


Among the causes for this behavior include rough experiences during childhood and an equally dramatic teenage life. Smoking was a way of expressing my defiance to the state of helplessness and stressing conditions which I consistently found myself. After a few weeks of smoking, I became an addict which doubled my urge to smoke. According to Goldsmith and Reiter (2015), emotional triggers (stressful, anxious, bored, and lonely) remind victims how they felt when they smoked to enhance their moods or escape an undesirable situation.

Reinforcement and Behavioral Change

Reinforcements could be defined as an effect that will improve the future behavior of an organism in scenarios where appropriate antecedent stimulus precede that behavior (Mayor, 2016). In my situation, I plan on adopting a critical approach toward my behavior, its effects on my health, methods of eradicating it, and appreciating the little milestones that I achieve. For instance, when I spend a day without smoking, I will be viewing this as a significant achievement in my quest. Moreover, I shall ensure to celebrate positive progress by rewarding myself (Mayor, 2016). For example, after avoiding smokes for a week, I could go out for dinner in my favorite restaurant. Other rewards include a trip to an exotic locale that I have been eyeing for a while now.

Schedule and Timeline for Positive Reinforcement

The magnitude and extent of rewards will depend on the progress I make towards sobriety. However, every day spent without nicotine will be appreciated by a good meal and self-assurance that am on the right path. Importantly, I plan on buying a souvenir to celebrate one year anniversary after quitting. The gift will be a constant reminder of the wrong path I had earlier followed and its potential detriments as well as the advantages of choosing to cling on to good health.

After gaining a deeper understanding of nicotine addiction and its effects, it is paramount that I quit. In the beginning, I will avoid smokes at intervals I feel I can manage. I understand this will be an uphill task hence the need to set realistic milestones. The first milestone will be one day, the second will be two days, the third milestone will be four days, the fourth milestone will be one week, and the fifth milestone will be two weeks. After achieving each milestone, I will keenly observe my body reactions and decide on the mechanisms to help me progress. It is expected that the first three milestones will be marked by constant withdrawal symptoms that could be stressful. Brizer & Overdrive Inc. (2011) demonstrate that after the first week, my blood pressure and heart rate will go down. By the end of the second week, the carbon dioxide levels will return to normal as well as the blood circulation. Wheezing and coughing will stop after several weeks. Managing other withdrawal symptoms will entail discipline and controlling the environmental pressures.

In about a month, my nerve endings shall have regenerated, and I will have my sense of smell and taste back. I also anticipate that anger and irritability levels will have declined to tolerable levels. Then, the body will gradually break down nicotine into its metabolites which will be excreted through urine. Also, I expect lung tubes to relax making breathing more comfortable within the first three months. At this point, I will increase my physical activity, renew my gym membership and set new athletic goals. Working out will not only help me relax but also play a vital role in the detoxification process.


Punishment will be used because the things I plan on denying myself are the situations that trigger my behavior (Goldsmith & Reiter, 2015). They include the much-deserved company of my friends, the weekend outs, and alcohol. These activities increase my urge for smoking hence the need to avoid them. Hard as it may be, quitting smoking will mean changing the level of external influence. Punishment would only be effective if there is sufficient will to bear its consequences (Goldsmith & Reiter, 2015). In this regard, I have resolved that if my recreational activities will interfere with my resolutions, they will be scrapped off from my schedule immediately.

Also, my physician recommended that I engage the services of a gym instructor. However, I plan on working outside the constraints of his regular schedule each time I feel that am not realizing my goals. This punishment will mean an additional mile on top of the usual jogging distance, extra weights to lift, more sit-ups, and other intensive exercises.

In conclusion, smoking is dangerous to the human body both in short-term and in the long run. I am well-informed that the behavior is difficult to stop considering that I started early in my life. However, I have summoned unmatched will, determination, enthusiasm, and courage to handle the conditions of the difficult path of quitting. In the end, it will result in significant behavioral change and improvement of health. Also, I plan to embark on a campaign to help other recovering smokers to understand how they can achieve their objectives.


Brizer, D., & Overdrive Inc. (2011). Quitting smoking for dummies. S.I.: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Goldsmith, M., & Reiter, M. (2015). Triggers: Creating behavior change that lasts becoming the person you want to be. New York: Crown Business, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.

Herrick, C. R., Herrick, C. A., & Mitchell, M. (2010). 100 questions & answers about how to quit smoking. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Mayor, S. (2016). Fewer people are quitting smoking, say NHS stop smoking services. BMJ, i4598. doi:10.1136/bmj.i4598

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