Building new habits
I've recently read an article by James Clear where he writes about the time it takes to build a new habit. The article can be found here.
It's talks about how it's a common knowledge it takes you around 21 days to build a new habit.
Did you know that this is actually not completely correct? It got generally accepted and spread because the time frame was short enough for people actually liking the idea of managing to change their lives in 3 weeks.
But 21 day is actually the minimum that it takes for a new habit to become a part of your life.
On average, for a new habit to become automatic to you, it takes more than 2 months or precisely 66 days (study by Phillipa Lally for European Journal of Social Psychology in 2010).
We are all big on new year's resolutions. We wait for the 1st because it's magical to have a brand new year to start with new things. We make plans that we will start leading healthier lives, that we will move more, that we will start with new hobbies..but how much of us actually starts with something and can say in a year time that they've truly made it a part of their life?
Developing a habit does not come easy. It takes discipline and commitment every day.
21 days is a great way to start, but in order not to become disappointed after 3 weeks are gone, because you are still dreading going to the gym and exercising, or cooking healthy meals for yourself instead of ordering food, or whatever was your resolution, set your expectations correctly.
1) Start with promising yourself that you will not quit. Shift your mindset to believing that you can do it.
That means you will show up today. That means you will show up tomorrow. That means you will show up the day after that and every single day after that.
You will show up when you don't feel like it. You will show up when you can think of 100 excuses not to. And the most important thing is that you will show up because you've said you would.
If this is something you care about and want to improve, give yourself a real chance and apply yourself every day for at least two months.
2) Connect the new thing you want to implement as a new habit to the things that are already automatic to you. All your current habits, whether they are good or bad, are a product of repetition over time. So chaining that new habit to an existing one will make it easier for you to continue with it.
3) Find an accountability partner, someone who can do it with you. Make an agreement that you will check in daily as a reminder, and that you will check in after you've done the task. Seeing your accountability partner finishing their task will give you motivation to complete yours too.
4) Focus on one thing.
Don't overwhelm yourself with implementing more than one habit at a time. Focus on a single one. Schedule when you will do it the night before. Focusing on one habit at a time instead of spreading yourself thin on multiple ones, will multiply your chances of sticking to it.
5) Reward yourself. Whether in a form of congratulating yourself each time you finish your task, or you reward yourself with something you wanted for a longer period of time when you reach your first milestone (for example the first 21 days), this will create desire to continue doing the thing that makes us feel good.
6) Don't break promises you've made to yourself. If you promised that you will do something for a person you care about, you would do it right? So treat yourself as that person. Don't break promises you've made to yourself.
Every time you say you will do something and actually follow through, you are building your personal integrity. Every time you keep on showing up, you are building discipline.
Not only you'll be on a right path of making a new habit part of your life, but you will also learn that it's not a one time process. The lasting change is a product of daily habits. The lasting change is a product of showing up every day. There is no shortcuts.
This life of yours is entirely up to you.
So make it a journey of bettering your life.