Today we are talking about the amount of time it really takes to change a habit.
Over the years I’ve seen many articles that proclaim it only takes 28 days to change a habit. I know its taken me over 7 years, and counting, to change some of my bad habits, and I’m still working on changing other bad habits that have been lingering around.
Am I that different, difficult, and weird than the average American? I would reply Yes to all of these questions, but whats next?
How long does it really take
to change a habit?
Where did this 28 day nonsence come from.
Keep reading and you will find out.
Who decided it takes 28 days to
change a habit?
A plastic Surgeon named Maxwell Maltz, whose claim to fame is being the author of a 60s best seller called “Psyco-Cybernetics” claimed to have observed amputees that took an average of 21 days to adjust to the lost of their limb. So he decided the same must be true for all big changes. Maybe… or maybe not.
This entire thesis seems silly to me. It took amputees an average of 21 days to adjust to their lost limb? I’m suprised it took an average of 28 days. There is no comparison to amputees and the average American addicted to fatty foods and not working out. Amputees lost a limb, they no longer have a leg, arm, etc. The average American has access to whatever food they desire, almost 24 hours a day. Its impossible to compair the two subjects.
New Studies Say…
A new study by the University College London psychologist Phillippa Lally and her colleagues learned – on average, her subjects, that were trying to learn new habits like eating fruit daily or going jogging took 66 days before reporting that the behavior had become automatic.
That sounds about right, it took me about 3-6 months to make small changes to my mind set about food, exercise, and myself. As I stated before, it’s been a long journey for me. It took me about 7 years to acutally appreciate, enjoy, and crave salads.
There was actually a wide range of results in Phillippa Lally’s study. On average her subjects ranged from 18 days to change a habit, while it took others 245 days. Some habits are harder than other to make stick.
** Another myth underminded by the study is the idea that when forming a new habit you can’t miss a day or all is lost. Missing one day made no difference, actually beleiving its all or nothing was activly unhelpful, making it harder to restart once you fell off the wagon physically and mentally.
Why hold on to this old outdated guideline?
Self-help culture lives by the 28 days to change rule, mostly because it makes the challenge of changing seems plausible and almost easy.
How to process this new information & attack change with the correct mindset.
The first issue is to come to terms that changing habits are hard. Our brains are designed to take shortcuts, rendering as many behaviours as possible automatic. “What would be the point of having a habits that didn’t free up your mind to crunch on more pressing matters?” Psychologist Ian Newby-Clark
Habits are ment to be difficult to change
“The chains of habits are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken” Dr. Kim Johnson “But maybe by looking a the problem differently we can still slip out of them.”
What does this have to do with you?
* There is no basis for the claim that it takes a certain number of days to from a new habit
* Repetition is very important
* Waste basket exampe – if you’ve ever moved a wastebasket from one side of your dest to the other, you probably threw paper into the floor where the waste basket used to be and kept doing it for some time. But after a while it became automatic to toss your trash into the newly located waste bin, and now it would seem odd to go back to the old habit.
* Researchers have proven there is no specfic amount of days – it depends on the subject, it depends on YOU.
* Some habits take a few weeks, others take much longer
* When its easier to do the habit then not is how you know that the habit has taken hold, when it feels weird to not do it.
* The time varies depending on how complexed the behavior is, how difficult it is, and how important the habit change is to YOU.
* The more motivated you are the more quickly that habit is likely to feel automatic
* Do not become discourage if the desired behavior doesn’t become automatic right away. It takes time to train the brain
* The occasional slip up is not fatal
* Consistent daily repetition gives the shortest time to the place where the behavior becomes automatic.
* The first days seem to make the biggest difference so its worth trying to be diligent at the beginning of the attempted habit
My personal Experince with changing and forming new habits
It’s possible. It’s hard. It’s a long journy. You can do it.
I never set out to become an inspiration to others but thats how my cookie crumbled.
One day I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t like the person staring back at me. From that day I started changing habits. I always support and suggest starting with small changes. My first habit change at the very beginning of my journey was to stop calling myself fat. It was mental for me, my first step was mental.
Whenever negative thoughts creeped into my mind I made myself repeat to myself that I was not fat, I was beautiful and I was worthy of change. Silent positive affirmations. It took about 3 weeks for those negative thoughts to stop invading my mind so often, then I moved onto not thinking about food 24 hours of the day, while still making sure not to call myself fat. My habit changing started to overlap and that worked for me. Within 6 months I was able to have healthy positive thoughts about myself, and stop fantasying about food.
Take it slow, don’t beat yourself up, and never give up. You can evolve into the person you want to become, the person you were born to be.
Thats it today Friends