Back in the 1950s, Dr. Maxwell Maltz noticed his patients need at least 21 days to get used to seeing their new face after cosmetic surgery.
“These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”
With his new found observations, he wrote a book on forming new habits (Psycho-Cybernetics), and it became a bestseller paving the way for most of today’s personal empowerment heavyweights including Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, and Brian Tracy.
Just 21 Days for new habits to stick?
But forming a new habit CAN take longer than 3 weeks.
Dr. Maxwell was talking about 21 days as the minimum period needed for a new habit to stick.
So, how long does it take?
Another study was done, and the results are it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic – 66 days to be exact.
And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.
From that study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.
Here’s what you can take heart from the study:
1. In the study, missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.
Therefore, don’t put yourself down for missing that run yesterday. Learn from your mistakes and get back on track quickly.
2. Don’t worry if you’re finding it difficult to form a new habit after 21 days. It can take longer than that if you have no help.
3. Set a long term goal. If you want to quit smoking, commit to a 365-day-no-smoking period and stick to it RELENTLESSLY.
Forming a new habit starts from you taking the first action. So, no matter how long it takes for the new habit to stick, it begins with DAY 1.
Have you started your DAY 1?
“We become what we repeatedly do.” – Sean Covey.