How long does it take to form a habit?

Research has revealed a relationship between practice and the automation of behavior. You want to create a new habit like exercising more, eating healthier, or blogging daily; How many times does the action have to be repeated for it to become a habit (which habit does not require conscious control?) Obviously it will depend on the type of habit you are trying to form. your dedication and commitment in pursuing your goals.

But are there general guidelines for how long it will take before your behaviors become automated?

When you google it, you will find numbers like 21 and 28 days. The truth is that there is no solid evidence for those numbers. The number 21 days may come from a book published in 1960 by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. He noticed that people with amputees, on average, need about 21 days to adjust to the loss of a limb, and Dr. Maxwell says it takes 21 days for people to adjust to some important changes. in life.

Since then, people have been whispering about a legend that it takes 21 days to form a new habit (or 30 or some magic number). Gradually, this became an obvious fact. If many people talk about something over and over again, then everyone will believe it and consider it the truth.

It’s also easy to understand. The “21-day” timeframe is short enough for people to get inspired but long enough to make people believe. Who doesn’t love the idea of changing their life in just 3 weeks?

But the problem here is that Maltz simply observes what is going on around him, but not enough to consider it to be true. More than that, he is also certain when saying that this is the minimum time to embrace the new change.

How long does it take to form a habit?

There is some research on this issue in an article published in the European journal of social psychology . Phillippa Lally and her colleagues from University College London recruited 96 people interested in forming a new habit, such as eating a serving of fruit with lunch or doing a 15-minute run a day. Participants were asked daily how they felt the degree of automation of the behavior ?

On average, automation behavior reaches a steady state after about 66 days.

Although the average time it takes for a behavior to become automatic is 66 days , the researchers also noted time differences in habit formation ranging from 18 days to 254 days.

For example, the habit of drinking 1 glass of water becomes automatic very quickly, but doing the type of exercise (lay down – sit up 50 times) before breakfast requires more work. The researchers also found the following:

What the research reveals, is that when we want to develop a habit, such as eating fruit every day or going for a 10-minute walk every day, it can take more than 2 months of repeating the action. before it becomes a habit.

While research has shown that skipping a day of no action doesn’t hurt long-term results, what’s repeated over and over again boosts automation dramatically. of behaviour.

And unfortunately there’s no such thing as quick change, it only takes 21 days to form a new habit, unless your only goal in life is to drink lots of water each day.

Don’t get discouraged by the above research, because:

Understanding the above from the start helps you manage your expectations, commit to making small improvements, rather than pressure yourself to do it all at once.

It doesn’t really matter how long it takes to form a habit . Even if it takes 50 or 500 days, you still have to start from day 1 to make it to day 500. So forget the number and focus on the work.