The Millennial Smoker: a story of unintended professional self-sabotage

In Professional Advice, Self-Development by Andrew GabelicLeave a Comment

I am not going to lecture you on your lungs, your health, or second-hand smoke. I just want to tell you something I wish someone had told me back when I was a pack-a-day-smoker: you are flushing professional opportunities down the toilet.

In the past twelve months, I went on a solo trip to Argentina, produced three plays in New York City, and built this entire website with my own money. It has been a wild adventure that continues to this day, which has allowed me to connect with incredibly meaningful people and colored my life in immeasurable ways.

It just recently dawned on me: I would not have been able to do any of that had I not quit smoking five years ago. I wouldn’t have noticed the difference either – I’d just be walking to the store every day and getting my pack. That version of me wouldn’t know what he was missing out on.

What are you missing out on? Have you ever thought about the opportunity cost of smoking?

I used to spend about $150 dollars a month on cigarettes. The five year tab comes out to an infuriating $39,000 dollars. I can’t calculate that amount without screaming into a pillow.

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Throughout those 5 years, I could have lived the exact same life (drank all I drank, travel all I traveled, bought all I bought, and had as much fun as I had) while depositing $39,000 into my savings account.  It would not have taken any major skills or new habits. I would have lived the same life with $39,000 ready to support my entrepreneurial endeavors.

Instead of saving and investing, I smoked. That was an interesting choice to make, and I could not tell you why I made it.

To die faster? To get a buzz I couldn’t even feel after I became addicted? To depend on a substance for peace of mind? To have to go out every thirty minutes to take a break? To smell awful?

The poison’s grip on my brain was so powerful that it made me rationalize such indefensible choices. I was literally paying someone to limit my freedom and screw up my body.

I smoked to protect my present quality of life, while making irreparable damage to my future quality of life. It was as much about my future financial position as it was about my future health.

What could you be doing with that money instead?

You could finance your company, first album, film, play, or personal project. You could travel the world. You could build a fat investment portfolio. You could enrich your life in a million other ways. And remember: you wouldn’t have to do anything that you’re not currently doing (other than quitting and saving the money instead).

Napoleon Hill (one of the most respected authors in the history of success literature) repeatedly made the argument that needless spending is the antithesis of professional attainment. He filled his seminal work “The Laws of Success” with examples of individuals who formed the habit of spending and were able to deploy their small “rainy day funds” when a major opportunity unexpectedly dropped from the sky.

These moments are as rare (and common) as earthquakes and car accidents, which is why we often forget their ability to fundamentally transform our lives. You never know when someone will come to you with a once in a lifetime investment opportunity or cross paths with a powerful investor who wants to see a sample of your work. You never know when you will emerge from the shower with a billion dollar project idea.

With a small rainy day fund at your disposal (maybe $5,000 to $10,000) you will be able to grab that opportunity and make something incredible with it. Without one, you will have to walk away and wonder what might have been.

Isn’t it funny? I used to feel FREE as a smoker, and all I was doing was permanently limiting my freedom. Now I’m writing this in hopes that you will realize the same thing: one day you will punch yourself in the face for throwing away all that cash. You will punch yourself even harder when you think about what you got in return for it.

Life being the ultimate test in freedom, the decision is now up to you (and I fully respect it). But make no mistake: your smoking habits bring a powerful opportunity cost with them. You may not want to think about it, but that will not change the fact that different choices could bring incredibly interesting and profitable outcomes.

If you are ready to quit, you don’t need patches or gum. I made it through the awful withdrawal period with the incredible help of this 100% free website: whyquit.com. The first two weeks are the hardest. When the cravings come, go to their site and read an article. You have my word: the cravings will go away.

I find it hard to beleive that you are any more addicted than I was. If I could do it, you can too.

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Andrew Gabelic is the CEO & Founder of Teledipity, a free pocket life coach with an eerie ability to send you the right self-improvement content at the right time (based on your personality and life stage). Check out what it says about you!