Habits. We’ve all got bad ones and want new ones. Weather you want to stop chewing your nails or sleeping till noon, or you want to start jogging in the morning or making time for ten minutes of meditation, habits are pretty important. Lets take a look at what habits are and how we can make or break them.
Habits are not created in a day
You’ve probably read that it only takes twenty one days to make or break a habit. If it was that simple, we’d all be shiny, walking, talking, doing, examples of our ideal selves. Unfortunately the twenty one day thing is false.
Habits take different times to form for different people. The time it takes to form a habit also depends on the difficulty of what you’re setting out to do. Are you trying to write 10 pages of your novel every day, or read a chapter of a book?
It will be easier to get into the habit of reading a chapter of a book every night than writing ten pages because it is an easier, less time consuming thing to do. Both are equally do-able. It’s just that one takes more energy and dedication than the other.
It’s possible the twenty one day rule would work for some daily reading but it won’t solidify heavy duty tasks like putting in an hour at the gym or parking yourself long enough to write ten pages a day.
Two to eight months
Studies have that it usually takes anywhere between two and eight whole months for new, full habits to form.
That might be kind of hard to swallow, but it should also be a bit of a relief. A lot of people get to that twenty one day mark and feel like failures for not coasting automatically with their shiny new habit after that – not realizing the timeline was unrealistic.
Forming habits is all about little changes that build up over time if you keep at it. If your new habit formed quickly and easily, it probably doesn’t have much staying power. Most things that take twenty one days kind of fizzle pretty fast.
The moral of the story is, if you’re trying to improve yourself, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have miraculous new habits in less than a month. Keep working at it. There’s no magic number of days when you’ll have a new habit, but at one point you will realize, you’re automatically doing that thing you wanted to be doing because you’ve formed a new habit.
You can congratulate yourself then.