Mohit Kuvadia, founder of eco-friendly brand VOLOQ, says that the challenges of his entrepreneurial life helped him quit smoking
Mohit Kuvadia wanted to be a pilot but settled for an IT engineering degree from Mumbai. After over six years of handling digital marketing and sales for some of the biggest consumer products brands in India, Mohit claims his entrepreneurially-inclined Gujju genes kicked in. Putting the lesson of ‘dhandho’ which he learnt from his grandfather to task, Mohit bootstrapped VOLOQ from a tiny rented office space exactly opposite his engineering college. His idea behind VOLOQ was to give India and the world options other than leather and polyester lifestyle brands through intelligently designed yet stylish & affordable eco-friendly products. VOLOQ products designed for millennials & gen-X are made entirely in India and delivered across the world.
College and the first puffs
Mohit began smoking in engineering college, largely due to peer pressure, media influence, and the need to fit-in and appear mature and ‘cool’. His consumption averaged at four cigarettes a day – with a set pattern: before college, after lunch, after evening snacks and before leaving for home. Weekend night-outs would push the rate of consumption to a packet.
‘Officially’ a habit
Mohit reveals that the real amplification of the habit happened during his professional work years. Smoking, for him, was now more of a psychological need to distract himself from the monotony of work life, reinforced by the sutta-break ‘discussions’ that were a fixture at the office. His pattern of three cigarettes a day: one each for morning office tea, post-lunch and while leaving office, eventually grew to accommodate additional cigarette break slots between morning office tea & lunch and even a cigarette break between lunch and evening tea. Surprisingly, the habit stayed confined to the office and his life outside home. Weekends spent at home were often entirely cigarette-free.
What led him to quit smoking
After starting out on his own, there was a major shift in social activity for Mohit. Entrepreneurial life was very different from the MNC work culture. He was now on his own and free of the peer influence and established work patterns. Like most entrepreneurs, his mind was also set on making his business idea succeed and giving it his all to make it work.
“Once, after finishing work around midnight, I lit my habitual post-work cigarette despite needing to reach home in a hurry,” says Mohit, describing what triggered the need to quit. “I felt helpless, about how my mind was not in control or in sync with my body and it was a reality check because I didn’t need or enjoy the cigarette and yet I was not able to avoid it and move on.”
Looking at quitting smoking from an entrepreneurial perspective
Knowing that this psychological pattern had to be broken. Mohit decided to approach it with an entrepreneurial analogy. Business is done on the basis of profitable deals, and he looked at smoking as a business deal. Smoking was harmful, and yet he was facilitating a purchase of it, despite the fact that it would eventually harm his own health. “It just made sense to me that before going out and conquering the world through my entrepreneurial journey, I needed to realign my mind, body and common sense parameters,” he adds.
The toughest moments in his quitting journey
Mohit had the toughest challenge in rewiring his mind, particularly because nothing around him had changed even minutely, from his habits to his friends or his routines.
“When you are up against your own mind, having that will power to stand against it, and keep it in check is the toughest.” He says. “I approached it with the one-day-at-a-time mentality. And of course, there were days where my will power was low and the triggers would kick-in harder than usual.”
To tackle this, Mohit embarked on a 21-day smoke-free challenge to fight the urge. He noticed that the period between the 4th and 15th day would usually be the zone where he caved in the most. And when he did, he would reset the counter and begin all over again. Having a record of his failures gave him insight into his caving-in patterns and helped him eventually conquer them.
With a little help from his friends
Mohit began his journey to kick the butt by telling as many people about his plans to quit. He felt it would deliver a subconscious message to his mind if it was out in the open. He also purposely went through the same routines with his friends and colleagues -- only smoke-free this time. He would have tea at the same stall, hold an unlit cigarette and even crush it in the bin before going. He would also hang around with friends in the smoking-room to be consistent with his patterns.
Friends, Mohit believes, always appreciate it if you are doing something good, even if it’s for yourself. “We all were in the same situation, where many of us wanted to quit but were not able to. Some of my friends even look up to me, and it has helped as a motivation to continue,” he adds.
Mohit’s hacks for quitting
Mohit feels that when it comes to quitting, approaching it, one habit at a time worked best for him. Going all self-righteous and trying to eliminate all bad habits at once just wouldn’t work for him. Mohit focussed his energies singularly on quitting smoking even though he was tempted to give up junk food etc. Here’s what worked for him:
1. Starting up
Being an entrepreneur helped a lot, as every day was a new day. A non-monotonous life helped, and there was work satisfaction at the end of the day. This helped in controlling the urge.
2. Challenging his mind
Mohit challenged his mind to choose between his larger life goals and smoking, and obviously it chose the former. He used to place smoking with another alternative where smoking always came out as dispensable. The more he did this, the more it reinforced the message to his mind.
3. Disintegrating the cycle
By holding an unlit cigarette during work, Mohit could feel it and smell it, yet not have it. This helped a lot in breaking his mind cycle. Once the cycle was disintegrated, it helped a lot in setting up a new cigarette-free one.
Mohit’s advice to someone who wants to quit
It’s been over four years of Mohit not having had even a single drag of either cigarettes or hookah. He is now 100 percent involved with running VOLOQ and is in the process of quitting junk food and getting into a regular fitness routine too.
Mohit believes that only he and no one else could have convinced himself to quit. “It had to come from within. The mind is where the matter is,” he says. “Be conscious about the self and treat your body as your own prized possession like any other machine. You are the captain of the body and obviously you would want to treat it well.”
Nicotex brings you inspiring stories on quitting
Nicotex, a brand committed to helping people give up smoking is partnering with YourStory to bring out a series of inspiring articles. Visit them at www.nicotex.in and create your own quit journey.