Updated: 7 days ago
Forming a habit happens when an action that is part of a routine of behavior is repeated regularly, over and over. This usually tends to occur subconsciously and automatically like brushing your teeth, making your bed or that coffee in the morning. It is just something you automatically do. Interestingly, it can take you anywhere from 21 to 250 days to form new habits depending on how drive you are in setting and achieving goals. For most motivated people it takes on average 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.
The 'Creating New Habits' 7 Day Challenge
New here? Welcome to the Blog Challenge series, where we challenge ourselves once a month to improve our health or lifestyle in some way. If you are new to following my Blog Challenge series, it's super easy peasy to participate. Just tune into the blog each day through the website or my app and follow along. Read the challenge post with a journal or pretty notebook handy. Write down any "ah-ha moments", ideas or inspiration and follow the prompts to complete the challenge. I highly recommend using a pretty journal for this.
How Long Does It Take To Create A New Habit?
Welcome back to the 'Creating New Habits' challenge! In this month's challenge we are pushing ourselves to create some new healthy habits. Yesterday you would have spent few minutes thinking about what needs changing in your life and decided on a habit to create. We also discussed ways break it down into a 3-step process to follow. A routine wrapped around your new habit will help you until you've internalised the new behavior and made automatically part of your every day.
They say it takes a minimum of 21 days to create a new habit. That’s kind of a weird idea though, isn’t it? It doesn’t take that long to form a bad habit like that evening snacking in front of the tellie or nibbling as you cook. And sometimes no matter how hard we try, it takes us a lot longer to form a good new habit like meal prep, daily walks, or the gym. Why is that?.
Well, the answer is that it depends on your mindset and on how big of a change it is from what you are doing now. If the new habit of yours is to eat a bowl of ice cream at night, and you switch from regular ice cream to a low-sugar frozen yogurt version, it’s probably not going to take you very long to make that new habit. Its relatively easy. Giving up ice cream altogether though, might take you a lot longer. Its harder.
The Easier The New Habit, The Faster
How long it takes you to form a new habit really comes down to how long you have to tough it out before it gets easier. For instance, swapping ice cream for low-sugar frozen yogurt is pretty painless. Making your own ice cream with a healthy recipe, now takes a lot more effort, and chances are, your homemade version won't taste the same with little or no sugar. This change is a bit more painful and uncomfortable, and usually the reason why people struggle to stick to new changes. Do you really want to wait for homemade ice cream when you can just buy and consume it instantly off the grocer's shelf?
TASK: how can you make your desired new habit easier to achieve? Write a few ideas down to help bulletproof your efforts.
New Habits Form Best When Commitment Is High
If there is a light at the end of the tunnel you can see, where you don’t have to try so hard anymore, it is far more easy to stay on course. When you can see the new behavior becoming automatic, it makes it far more achievable to keep going even if its a big effort.
In cases of losing weight, or attaining a longer term goal that takes time and a continuous effort to acheive, it can be much harder to maintain your mojo. Your desire to form the new habit can (and will) ebb and flow depending on your mood, circumstances and the energy you have to expel to achieve it.
TASK: Motivation levels vary from one person to the next, and can even from one habit to the next. What can you do to ensure that your motivation remains high while you work to form your desired habit? Write your ideas down to reflect on when you notice you are struggling to stay motivated.
Make It Stick With A Routine
We touched on this yesterday. Habits will form faster if you stick to a routine such as the same time and environment each day. Instead of going for a walk whenever, keep your Nikes next to the door and schedule your walk every day at 6pm, right after dinner for example. Make meal prep part of your nightly cooking routine and just chop extra or double the recipes. Routines are 100% the secret sauce to forming and maninting new habits!
Easier To Make New Habits Than Old
It is far easier to form a brand new habit, than it is to get rid of an old one. Be prepared to work a lot harder to give up checking facebook every 2 minutes or snacking on potato chips late at night. Whenever possible, try to replace an old habit with a new one.
For example if you’re wanting to give up coffee, brew a tea pot of herbal tea in the morning and sip throughout the day when you would usually reach for your cup of Joe. Make lemon infused water and leave it on the bench with a post-it note to "drink me". Sometimes forming new habits can help you overcome old, poor ones.
Visual Reminders Are Powerful
A constant reminder of why you’re trying to change your behavior is so powerful and helpful. Remind yourself every day that you’re exercising so your body stays strong and you can go play with the kids or grandkids in the yard. Post a picture of you at your ideal weight.
Keep your reason why you’re changing front and centre and then be prepared to stick it out. Yes it will take some time to make new habits and replace old ones. But it will be well worth it in the end.
Here's today's recap: Understand habits take time to form and are dependent on your motivation level. Stick with a routine with visual reminders, and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.
Tune in tomorrow for Day 3 where we'll explore six simple habit hacks to help you totally own this challenge and be a habit forming beast. See you then!
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