I am sure that many of us are familiar with the idea that it takes approx. 21-28 days to make or break a habit.
I know I have heard it from MANY coaches in all fields. I guess that is why we see so many “21 days to get fit” or “28 days to a slender waist” etc.
Well, it seems that time frame has been busted…the time to actually change a habit is (on average) 66 days!!
Where did the 21 days come from?
Apparently, one Dr. Maxwell Maltz, wrote a book in 1960 in which he made observations that in his practice he saw that it took a MINIMUM of 21 days for a new habit to form in the brain.
As Dr Maltz’s book became more and more popular (it has sold over 30 million copies) it became a reference book for many in the growing self-help arena. As more and more of the self-help gurus became influence by Dr Maltz’s book, a series of chinese whispers managed to drop the concept of a MINIMUM of 21 days and so the myth of 21 (or 28) days to change a habit became accepted a fact.
So…How long DOES it take?
According to a 2009 European study is takes between 18 to 254 days to form a new habit and a 2012 British study dove into the psychology of forming a habit.
What these studies have determined that is takes an AVERAGE of 66 days… which is approx. DOUBLE that old myth.
What comes next?
Firstly, write down the habit you want to change. Why do you want to change it? What will your life look like when this change happens?
Now you can begin to focus on the HOW and concentrate on that for the next 66 days.
For the first 7-14 days, announce your intention to change that habit. Often this is enough to “guilt” you into doing it. (Think of you will feel if you fail 😀)
Keep in mind that you should keep your changes simple and achievable. Eg: You might want to change the habit of snacking on junk food at night. It almost a foregone conclusion that you will fail if you try and deprive yourself of all the snacks in your house. Try limiting yourself to those junk snacks just 3 days a week and replace the other 4 with something healthier.
Whatever you do, go slow and make it YOUR new normal. This way you move in baby steps toward your ideal 10/10 life without the bad habits that annoy you.