SOPS V.2 - Incentivize
I have been thinking the last few days about my pipe smoking again. Here is a brief summary of what has been going on in my mind:
1. I have decided to become a Special Occasion Pipe Smoker (SOPS). This means that on certain pre-approved occasions I can have a pipe, or two or three. These would typically be at a visit with my elderly father-in-law (typically once a week or once every other week), or when attending a wedding reception or potentially a graduation party, etc.
2. In SOPS V.1 (version 1), I found I was fairly successful in not smoking my pipes when I deemed it not appropriate. In my calculation of that time, I was roughly 94% successful.
3. When I was successful, I was feeling motivated to do SOPS.
4. I have now gone back to smoking my pipe, albeit at roughly only 30% of my former rate.
5. The difference is that I simply do not feel the same motivation to do SOPS.
I am not sure why, however, what I am sure of is that I can tell you a variety of things about my experience going back to daily pipe smoking:
1. I can notice I do not feel as good as when I was practicing SOPS. Things I feel that I dislike include a return of the phlegmy feeling in my chest, my skin (especially my face and hands) feels exceptionally dry like it had before, I feel more tired, I feel more general aches and pains.
2. When I was practicing SOPS at the 94% rate, I felt I slept better, my skin felt far less dry, I lost the phlegmy feeling in my chest, and I jogged far more easily.
Now, it *may* be that *some* of the greater positives I felt during SOPS were due to the fact that they occurred between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Perhaps I was "giddy with holiday spirit". It is possible, but in reality I do not think the holiday spirit contributed to my positive feelings. I think they were REAL physical feelings that were positive.
So, why am I smoking my pipes (albeit at 30% of the former rate)? It all boils down to motivation, I believe. I somehow lost my motivation. It started with Christmas Eve and Day, and from that point, my motivation was rocky, if not absent ever since.
So, what to do?
I think I need to adopt SOPS Version 2. And, for V2 to work, I am going to try to (prepare for the horridly wretched, nearly pop cultural, almost Orwellian term) "incentivize" my efforts. I apparently was able to "incentivize" myself with walking, because (I just counted) today is the 1,586th day in a row where I walked OUTSIDE, for roughly 5 miles, regardless of weather, holiday, health, or anything. The walking effort has been so successful that I have expanded to jogging and regular weight training at the gym.
Why has walking been successful?
It was not because I felt better (I felt better with SOPS V1), it was not that I lost weight (I have not gained or lost weight during SOPS V1). I am firmly convinced that the reason why I have kept up with the walking for EVERY SINGLE DAMN DAY for 1,586 days is because of the NUMBER! I was motivated to keep the number going higher (instead of back to zero) even when I was sick, even when I did not want to walk, even when I forgot sometimes until 10 o'clock at night. The growing number MOTIVATED me.
So, today, I begin SOPS V2. My goals are the same.... to only smoke 1, 2, or 3 bowls of pipe tobacco ONLY during a predesignated special occasion. These would typically be at a visit with my elderly father-in-law (typically once a week or once every other week), or when attending a wedding reception or potentially a graduation party, etc.
I will keep a running tally of the number of days of my success in a row with SOPS V2 without screwing up. I remember when I started walking, I did not feel much in the way of "number motivation" until I hit 30 days in a row without missing a day. Then I started thinking that I just *MIGHT* be able to get to 50, then 100, etc until I am where I am now at 1586.
I am wondering if the number game would work for me in SOPS V2 as well? I cannot really state why the increasing number motivates me, but it does. So, I am going to give it a try.
I am starting today with SOPS V2. I am thinking about whether or not I should count as a success day, the days when I smoke my pipe on an approved day? At this time, I am thinking that I *should* count that day because I still did what I said I would do. But, on the other than, perhaps I should only count those days when I abstain, and give myself a pass on the days when I smoke my pipe ON AN APPROVED day? The pass would allow me to keep my number rising as an indication of success.
I am not sure which numbering system I shall adopt. But, I do know that today is day #1 of SOPS V.2.
Today's (Thursday's) Goal = 0 bowls
(the official start of SOPS V.2)
Wednesday's [1/23] Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Tuesday) = 5 bowls