Firstly, how long it takes to create a new habit depends entirely on the nature of the behavior. 21 days has been thrown around but that is really just an arbitrary figure. Some habits are complex and are made up of any factors, things we do, things we think and situations we are in. A good thing to keep in mind is the very reason for changing the habit. Never lose sight of “why” you wish to change and what the positive outcomes could be. Research has shown that this kind of “big dreaming” can help make the new behaviour stick.
At the other end of the scale is the step by step approach. Depending on how big the change is, start very small with a day by day “quota” of small steps. This removes the feeling of overwhelm and gives us chance to succeed. Think big, act small isn’t a bad way of looking at it.
Avoiding throwing in the towel – many times when we are struggling to create new routine or way of being in the world, we are tempted to simply give up at the first sign of a frustration. The way round this is to think ahead to what precedes that feeling and come up with a simple action to make the change as structured as possible and eliminate the opportunity for too many options! Choice is good, too much choice leads to confusion. Eg “When I come home from work I will go out for a walk for 30 minutes” is better than when I come home from work I will try and do something active”.
One final warning. We want our lives to be full of productive, satisfying routines that are automatic and do not require too many decisions. But we need to be flexible so that we don’t turn into robots who find change impossible because we are used to doing things a certain way!
Click here to read more – “The Science of Building Good Habits” Gregory Ciotti,