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  • Writer's pictureJeff Teresi

New Habit, How Long!?

How long does it take for a new habit to stick? Here’s a hint, it’s not 21days like most people think.

Instilling a new habit can be frustrating! Especially after you've been doing it for a while and it doesn't seem to get much easier. Well, today I'm going to briefly explain how long you can expect a new habit to take shape, how to move it from feeling unbearable to you feeling unstoppable, you know, how to keep it going strong…and I'll do it in the form of a song! Just kidding, I have been banned from singing by my wife. I wish that were a joke (Lol.)

Now last week we talked about the mother of all great habits - the habit of evaluating your habits. If you missed it, be sure to read that article after this one. It's foundational for holding onto healthy habits.

Let's begin with a little background info on how long new habits take to form. Then, what you can expect the first 10, 20, and 30 days of taking on a new habit? Let's dive in.

By the way, if you haven't read The One Thing or The Miracle Morning yet, those are two of my favorite books. Definitely check them out.

In Gary Keller and Jay Papasan's bestseller: The ONE Thing, they mention how habits don't necessarily conform to the mythical magical number of 21 days. So those seeking a quick simple answer may be disappointed, because it's more complicated than that. There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to habit formation and integration. Same with breaking a bad habit. It all depends on the habit and the person. Some habits may take less than 21 days, and many may take much longer, ranging from 18-254 days. But on average, for a habit to become almost ingrained and require the least amount of effort to sustain is 66 days. This is empowering information, especially when you reach that 21 day mark and wonder why it still seems difficult for you. So plan for at least 21-30 days to get the ball rolling, but also acknowledge that it will probably be closer to 66 days, and may even be longer.

The key is to take it one day at a time.

The First 30 Days

Now when it comes to what to expect those first 30 days, here's a good rule of thumb. I love what Hal Elrod has to say in his book The Miracle Morning. He breaks those first 30 days into three 10-day progressive phases. He calls it moving from Unbearable to Unstoppable.

When replacing a bad habit with a healthy one, the first 10 days is phase one, it's more than likely going to feel unbearable. For example, if you're used to pressing the snooze button when your alarm goes off in the morning, not being able to press the snooze button is going to be quite difficult. But if you push through to phase 2, the second 10-day period, it will start to feel less unbearable and more uncomfortable. That's the second phase, moving from unbearable to uncomfortable. And the final phase, the third 10-day period, days 21-30 you hopefully move from uncomfortable to unstoppable. This is when you feel you've hit your stride and you're on a roll. You've gained some serious momentum and it begins to feel more and more comfortable to you. That's when you've moved from uncomfortable to unstoppable.

Just don’t get too comfortable, because if you become lazy or complacent, the odds of slipping go way up. So never slip into thinking it's going to be smooth sailing from here on out. Remember, it may take up to 66 days or even longer for the new habit to stick and for it to truly click. So be patient and stay persistent. It's true that it will be easier over time, but to maintain any healthy habit requires persistent intentionality. Take flossing your teeth for example. You don't necessarily have to think much about the habit once you're doing it, but you have to intentionally choose to do it each day.

All you have to do is Pay Attention. What do I mean by that. Give your attention, which happens to be your most valuable resource, to making this change and instilling new skills, whatever it may be. That's what it's going to cost you: your undivided attention. It's not cheap, but I know you can do it! Just hang in there and let me know how it goes in the comments below.

Stay tuned next week when I'll be showing you how to be driven by your dreams.

Remember, You're not alone, you are loved, and whatever you do, believe in yourself!

-Jeff Teresi

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