Articles From the Team

How to quit smoking

I had my first cigarette when I was 15 years old. I was at school, stood behind the bike shed at the end of the day when there was a minimal teacher presence. I remember it very well, choking on the first drag and feeling a bit sick, then taking a second drag and inhaling properly to get a slight head rush. It was a beautiful moment. Here I am 15 years later and I have mostly managed to quit smoking, although I have actually only replaced it with vaping, the utter nonsense that it is, and I occasionally (after a beer or three) cave in to my own lack of self-discipline and light up a Marlboro.

For years I was quite a heavy smoker, unknowingly smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day, and I really enjoyed it! Somebody once asked me why I was a smoker and I thought about how I would answer this at the age of 15 when I first started; I wanted to be like my Dad. My Dad is my hero, someone I have always looked up to and continue to look up to, and he was a smoker. I also wanted to fit in and most of my friends at school had started smoking, so like many teenagers I gave in to peer pressure. Fast forward 10 years, the 25 year old me would have said something a little more tongue in cheek when asked why I smoke; because I’m really good at it! I don’t think you can really consider smoking to be a skill, although I can still blow double smoke rings which you have to admit looks really cool. Here I am at the age of 30 and I am trying desperately not to smoke, arguing that I have, for the time being, replaced it with the lesser of two evils because in all reality, I am an addict. I feel like I need nicotine, in one form or another. Whenever you speak to people about quitting smoking you’re told it’s just a matter of choice and will power but you have to also consider circumstance and influence.

How would this story be different if the title was ‘How to quit your job’?

For the sake of the story let’s say you’re a qualified solicitor approaching a few years PQE, you work for a Legal 500 ranked practice and you have a strong academic background. You’re married with children and you are quite seriously involved with a local rugby club. You’re not desperately unhappy in your job but still, something isn’t quite right. Four out of five days you enjoy coming to work, and when it’s good it’s really good, but when it’s bad it’s awful. You mostly get on well with your colleagues and the hours aren’t too bad although sometimes you get late coming home and miss putting the kids to bed and once or twice you’ve had to put in time at the weekend so you’ve missed out on Rugby and spending time with your family. This is just part of your job though, you know that and you’re ok with it, but still something doesn’t feel quite right. Your appraisals are always very positive, the partners like you and appreciate the work you do, you always take it upon yourself to go the extra mile and you know you’re valued but still, something isn’t quite right.

Let’s break this down a little further. Why did you take this job in the first place? Why this firm, why this team, what was it about these people (when you met them) that made you think you would be happy to work for them? Was anything different at the time; had you already had children and were certain promises made about the work/life balance? What about the money, did they offer you a higher basic salary than other firms that has since stagnated? Do you get paid a bonus? Are you really enjoying the quality of the work you’re undertaking or are you simply going through the motions to put money in the bank and bread on the table? How does your wife or husband feel about your job and the hours you work? Have you even asked them?

The conclusion we can draw from this is that you’re probably very good at your job and you work in a mostly positive environment; you enjoy what you do but the reality is the entire scenario could be better. That could mean a smaller firm, it could mean relocation, it could mean more money, and it could mean shifting to a part-time or flexible hours arrangement. Whether you decide to leave and seek the solutions elsewhere, or stay and have a conversation about these changes with the powers that be, either way, that’s a difficult conversation to have.

I found it really hard to quit smoking because I really enjoyed smoking and many of my friends were also smokers so I subconsciously considered it to be socially acceptable and the norm. But I knew it was bad for me, I knew it was causing problems for my health in the long term, and of course my clothes utterly stank. Without digressing too far from the point; even though you know that it is bad for you, even though it is something you have commonality in with friends and colleagues, when you enjoy something or when you’re comfortable in a situation, it is hard to give it up.

There are a plethora of reasons to start searching for a new job; money, work/life balance, career progression, environment, personal enjoyment etc. The list goes on and on and while it may or may not be eventually exhaustive, we often convince ourselves to stick it out because it’s easier than moving on. It is hard to quit, it is hard to take a leap of faith, it is hard to leave behind an environment and an atmosphere that you are used to. Ultimately the decision you make needs to be in your best interests and to the betterment of your career. This is something that BCL Legal can assist you with, from start to finish, through the application process and interview preparation all the way to consulting with you to have the difficult resignation conversation, we’re here to help. We can’t help you quit smoking, but we can help you change your life for the better with a career move.

For more information contact Gishan Abeyratne at BCL Legal.

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