Habit Change is Not About a Number

How long does it take to form a new habit? 21 days? 30 days? Those are some of the most common responses to that question, with 21 being one of the most often cited numbers. As James Clear points out, the number is probably closer to 66 days, but could range anywhere from 18 to 254 days. 

The reality is, there isn’t a magic number, although we would probably like for there to be one. We want habit formation to be an event that we finish. It makes us feel better to think that it we can just eat those vegetables, read that book, and do that workout for 21 days, then magic! It will become a habit and we can just go on with the rest of our life. Wrong.

Habit change is about a lifestyle change. 

It’s not about eating vegetables for a month; it’s about deciding to eat healthy every day.

It’s not about reading a book; it’s about becoming a reader.

It’s not about working out for a few weeks, it’s about making exercise a priority every week.

Habit formation is about behavior change that begins with gradual and consistent steps implemented on a daily basis until the behavior becomes automatic.

With that in mind, eating vegetables for a month, reading a book, and working out for a few weeks are all great steps to take. However, that’s just the beginning — you have to take that progress and continue to build upon it.

So, how long does it take to form a new habit? As long as it takes to make the behavior automatic. 

Stop focusing on a magic number and start focusing on making the small, consistent daily changes that will eventually turn into a lifestyle and help you become the person you want to become.

Reference:

“How long does it take to actually form a new habit? (Backed by science)” by James Clear at https://jamesclear.com/new-habit

Habits, Personal Leadership ,

Written by Jeremy Couch

Dr. Jeremy Couch is a Leadership Architect who helps people accelerate their leadership performance. He is passionate about teaching, writing, consulting, coaching, and speaking on topics related to leadership development and organizational health. He is the owner of Couch Solutions, LLC and Insights for Leading.

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