When people hear the word “habit,” they often think that they can just put a little effort into the process, and they’ll have formed a good habit. Similarly, when they want to break a bad habit, they think that if they just put a little time and effort into changing the habit, they’ll break it.
Unfortunately, there is a misconception over how much time it takes to actually form habits, and consequently, to break them. That is the basis around the number one myth of habit creation.
In Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics, he had said it takes a minimum of 21 days to adjust to a new situation, or similarly, to adapt to a new habit. Some admirers of his book leave out the “minimum” and quote it as taking just 21 days.
However, a 2010 University College London study tracked 96 people over 84 days (12 weeks) to see how long it took them to make a daily health/lifestyle change; the study noted that it took an average of 66 days (i.e. just over two months) to make a habit automatic.
In fact, the fastest person in that study did it in 18 days; the slowest person had NOT done it by the time the 84 days had passed and was estimated to not make the new habit automatic until 254 days (i.e. about 8.5 months) had passed.
In that study, it was also revealed that the amount of effort needed to create a new habit directly affected how much time it took to make the new habit automatic.
As a result, an action that requires very little effort (such as drinking an extra glass of water per day) will be easier and quicker to make into a habit than an action that requires more effort (such as exercising for one hour per day).
Therefore, many people have the misperception that forming a habit can be quick and that it is just as easy to break a habit. The truth is that it often takes months, even half a year, rather than just days or weeks to form a new habit.
Similarly, when you form a bad habit over a long period of time, you’re not going to break that habit overnight or in the span of a week or two.
Habits form from repeating an action or actions over and over again virtually automatically over a long period of time; therefore, to form one will take considerable time and effort on your part to achieve the habit or will take considerable time and effort on your part to break the habit.
According to Dictionary.com, habits are an “acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.” As a result, habits are actions that you repeatedly do until you almost consciously don’t know that you are doing them.
This quality can apply to both positive and negative actions; as a result, this means that you can form both good and bad habits. The only real difference between good and bad habits is that good habits involve good behaviors or actions you want to repeat, while bad habits involve bad behaviors or actions you want to avoid doing.
For good habits to take hold, you need to continue to do the positive action or behavior you want to do repeatedly. For instance, if you want to exercise early in the morning before you really start your day, then you need to take the necessary actions that will enable you to do this.
For example, you need to head to bed earlier to ensure you have time in the morning to work out. You also need to ensure you can fall asleep right away; this means that you can’t be getting anxious overwork or your family, and you certainly can’t be doing any strenuous activities right before you head to bed.
Taking such steps repeatedly will allow you to form the good habit of getting up early and working out before you start your day’s activities.
Bad habits are habits that you really want to break and not allow to take hold. In order to do that, you need to ensure that the actions that lead to those bad habits don’t happen. Referring to the earlier example, the equivalent bad habit would be not working out in the morning since that is really the only time you can make in your day to work out (and, therefore, won’t work out otherwise).
If you continue to go to bed late and/or you do activities right before bed that causes you to toss and turn and not get a good night’s sleep, chances are high that you will not want to wake up early and will not want to work out in the morning. Therefore, the actions of going to bed late and/or doing strenuous activities right before bed will lead to the bad habit of not working out in the morning.
Therefore, good and bad habits can be formed by taking the steps needed to repeatedly conduct the good or bad behavior over time. We want to repeat the good habits while stopping the bad ones; the key is recognizing what actions are needed to form the habits, then either repeating or stopping those actions to form the good or bad habit, respectively.
When it comes to daily habits, there are some things you need to realize and keep in mind. There are both good and bad habits; obviously, you want to repeat the good habits and stop the bad habits. Therefore, you have to recognize what makes up daily habits and know what to do and what not to do in order to form daily habits.
We will go over the do’s and don’ts of daily habits below.
When you want to create a daily habit, you want to get into a routine of doing the same thing day after day and week after week. You don’t want to deviate from doing that same thing. Granted, life and circumstances will sometimes cause you to alter your schedule, but as much as you can control, you need to attempt to do the same positive action every day.
For instance, if you are attempting to exercise every day, try to do it at about the same time each day. Whether that’s in the morning before you head to work and/or take the children to school, or if it’s late in the evening after you have finished the chores and/or put the children to bed, try to do it at about the same time each day to develop it into an ongoing habit.
If you want to establish a daily habit, do not make excuses on why you can’t do it. If you have extra work due to your business or occupation and need to squeeze extra time for that, don’t just remove your exercise routine just because you need extra time in your day for the work.
If you start making excuses on why you can’t do a daily positive habit regularly, the only habit you will form is a negative one that involves making excuses to get out of things or tasks you know you should be doing, but really don’t want to do and will make virtually any excuse to get out of doing it.
Therefore, when you want to establish a daily habit, you need to do everything possible to do that same task day after day, week after week, at about the same time each day. This will help to reinforce this action so that it becomes almost involuntary, just as habits are.
Similarly, you need to ensure you don’t make excuses on why you can’t do a positive habit or you will not form a habit of doing a positive action, but rather form a negative habit of making excuses out of doing things or tasks you know you should be doing, but would prefer to not do them and find virtually any way to get out from doing those things or tasks.
Everyone has accomplishments that he/she wants to achieve; in other words, people have goals that they want to reach. What many of us struggle with is that we often don’t achieve the accomplishments we want to achieve and fall short in the goals that we want to reach.
When we don’t achieve goals we want to reach, we feel disappointed and even dejected over falling short. What we need to do is to consistently turn those goals into reality in order to boost our self-esteem and our self-confidence in achieving the goals we set for ourselves. Learn how to turn more of your goals into reality below.
When you are attempting to turn more of your goals into reality, you need to think and start small. In other words, don’t set these lofty goals that you have no way of reaching. If you are obese and want to lose 100 pounds, you’re NOT going to achieve that in one week or even one month, even if you exercise several hours a day and cut your food intake to one to two meals per day.
Yet, if you set your goal to losing all of that weight within one week or even one month, you’re going to fall short and be down on yourself because you fell short.
Instead, set more manageable and attainable goals so that you can turn more of them into reality. If you’re obese and want to lose 100 pounds, start off by aiming to lose 5 pounds by the end of the month. Most dietitians and physicians recommend losing about 1 pound per week; therefore, you would be attempting to lose just over 1 pound per week.
If you set a more realistic goal of losing 5 pounds per month, you are likelier to achieve it through good weight management (i.e. less food, more exercise, etc.). This will boost your self-esteem and self-confidence in your ability to lose your overall goal of 100 pounds.
Plus, you could lose even more than five pounds per month, which can boost your self-esteem and self-confidence even more so that you achieve your long-term goal of 100 pounds quicker than you expect (i.e. in 20 months, as 5 pounds times 20 months equals 100 pounds).
Therefore, the shortcut of turning your goals into reality is setting more manageable, attainable goals and achieving them. This will boost your self-esteem and self-confidence to where you can more easily achieve your long-term, overall goals while achieving short-term goal after short-term goal immediately.
There are two main types of goals that you can strive to achieve- short-term goals and long-term goals. Short-term goals are those goals that usually involve relatively easy to moderate tasks and that can be completed within a relatively short period of time – usually from within a few minutes to maybe a few weeks at most.
Long-term goals are those goals that usually involve either harder tasks and/or a much higher number of relatively easy to moderate tasks that take longer to complete- usually from one or more weeks to several months or even a year or more. We will go over more of the differences between short-term and long-term goals below.
Short-term goals are those goals that usually can be accomplished within a few minutes to maybe a few weeks at most. For instance, if you are a student and have a test at the end of the upcoming week, you will need to review the material and prepare for the test.
Doing well on that test can be considered a short-term goal. If you are an entrepreneur and plan to promote someone else’s product, creating a few email marketing campaigns and a few social media posts could be considered a short-term goal, since completing such campaigns and posts should only take a few hours at most to complete.
Long-term goals are those goals that usually need a few weeks to even a few years to accomplish. For instance, if you are a student, doing well on your final exam for a course could be considered a long-term goal, since you have to review all of the course material from the past several weeks in order to do well on that exam.
Graduating from high school or college can also be considered a long-term goal, as it often takes four years (or sometimes more in the case of college) to get your diploma or degree. If you are an entrepreneur, preparing for your own product launch and recruiting affiliates to promote your launch can be considered a long-term goal, since it will usually take several months to successfully launch a product and benefit from it.
Usually, such a product launch can be vital to your business’ profitability and success, which is another reason why it’s a long-term goal- it’s very important to do it well, which means that much-focused effort over a long period of time has to be given to it in order to reach that long-term goal.