I want major changes in my life. I know creating new habits are necessary in order for the desired change to last. But how long until this behavior becomes a habit. You know something I just do without thinking. How long do I have to keep motivating myself to do this new behavior until it sticks? How long?! It has been many days since the 21st day and there are no new habits formed.
One of my anticipated benefits of doing this #100daychallenge, is the expected formation of lasting habits in support of my desired transformation. Now I am at day 66 and I must admit this challenge has been work! Why?! What was my problem?! Why haven’t I created any new habits?!
According to James Clear’s post, “How Long Does It Takes to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science)” it takes at least 66 days to create a new habit. Yes you read correctly, 66 days! He read the study that examined when a person creates a new habit. Phillippa Lally, the lead researcher, and her investigative research team found from the analyzed data they collected of their subjects that on average it takes more than 2 months, or specifically 66 days, for people to create a new habit. Before you start the negative self talk about how long that is, let me caution you that on average does not mean that is the time table. The real time frame is more likely to be two to eight months and the length of time is dependent on the new habit. The simpler the habit, the shorter the timeframe and visa versa. Sigh of relief, I am not slacking.
But why did I think after 21 days my bad habits would have been replaced by new habits and therefore transformed my life? Where did the 21 days myth originate? Well let me tell ya. Dr. Maxwell Maltz recognized that his patients were responding to the results of surgery around 21 days. In addition, he observed that for himself, he would create a new habit in a minimum of 21 days. So in the 1960’s Maltz published his observations and thoughts on behavior change and indicated that a minimum of 21 days is to be expected for a new habit to form. Then came along the “self help” gurus. They paraphrased Maltz’s writings. They stated 21 days as fact. They created the 21 day myth. Today you would be hard pressed to find someone out there not touting the myth of 21 days to create a new habit as gospel.
First, it is ok if you slip up here and there you wont have to start over. Missing the mark one day does not negate the formation process.
Second, commit to the system for creating the new habit. Accept that it will take longer than expected. Internalize that “new habits is process and not an event” (Clear). It is all about the small steady strides. Think tortious and not the hare.