October 8, 2011

3 Weeks To Form A Habit

Experts agree it takes 21 days to break a bad habit and form a new one.

Bad habits are easy to make, but extremely hard to end. Good habits, on the other hand, tend to take more time to make. Luckily, scientists agree that the average person needs at least 3 weeks to form a good habit.

If you're trying to start a good habit, then you probably had a bad habit to begin with. If so,
empty your house and work space of the thing you're trying to quit, or any item that may make you want to end the habit-making process. If you want to quit smoking, get rid of cigarettes. If you want to eat healthier, get rid of most unhealthy foods in you pantry etc.

There are so many things we do in our daily lives that have become a "habit". Brushing our teeth is habit. How you answer the phone is a habit. The way you sit in the car when your driving is a habit. Have you ever tried to change the way you do something, after you've done it one certain way for so long. It's easy to do as long as your thinking about it. The minute your mind drifts to something else, you go right back to the old way of doing things. What is a "habit" anyway? It's a way of doing things that has become routine or commonplace. To change an existing habit or form a new one, can be a tedious task.

Fatigue, boredom, depression, stress can all make it difficult to stick with your program. But having a relapse isn't as important as how you deal with the relapse. If you are so devastated by failure that you call your good intentions into question, that will make habit change harder for you. But, if you allow for an occasional relapse and treat it as nothing more than a slight misstep that teaches you something, then you're on the right track.

The following are some suggestions to follow each day in order to sustain motivation and determination:

1.  Review your list of reasons for quitting or changing.

2.  Create mental pictures of yourself as having already succeeded with your habit change.

3.  Make affirmations, positive self-statements about your habit change. For example, "I am filled with so much health and vitality now that I exercise four times a week."

4.  Reward yourself. Make up a list of self-rewards. Reward yourself verbally.

Remember to take one day at a time. If you do backslide, don't label yourself as having failed. Get out your list or reasons for quitting or changing and begin again.



Mitch said...

You know, I hate to beat this one up, but it turns out not to be true. It might help, but it's not definitive.

Last year I started working out at the gym. The two months I went almost every single day, some days twice, and had 65 visits out of 60 days. Then I started slowing down until eventually I was going to the gym 3 times a week, which still wasn't bad.

Now I'm back to the point where I might go one or two times a week, at best. Now, if the habit I formed is that I am still going to the gym, then it worked fine. But if the habit was that I would go at a rate consistent with the pace I set, then I failed miserably.

I guess the results can be read either way. lol

Unknown said...

There always are those exceptions to the rule, Mitch. I defintely understand how this could be one of those. Obviously some habits are going to be harder to stick with than others. I have also been trying to get back in the habit of exercising again, and have not been successful yet.
I have found it to be true for other habits, such as completing a list of must do tasks everyday and scheduling.
I believe your mindset and commitment to starting or stopping a habit is most important.
But glad to see that you are at least still going to the gym. I still consider that an accomplishment and move in the right direction. Good luck, Mitch.

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