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It’s been psychologically proven that it takes 21 to 30 days to form a habit, good or bad. The problem is that once the habit is formed, it still isn’t etched in your brain deep enough for you to realize the benefits (or the detrimental effects). The good or bad habit must be continually repeated until it’s automatic.
The 21 or 30 day theory would be great if it really worked. There would be no more obesity, after all, everyone could eat healthy for 21 days. Cigarettes would become extinct and no one would have an anger problem.
Unfortunately, the 21 or 30 days is only a beginning to changing or forming a habit. A commitment must be made strongly in your mind that will keep you repeating the newly hatched habit until it’s a natural reaction.
There’s more to forming good habits than depending on will power or the power of embedding it in your brain for a certain amount of time. If you’re trying to form some good habits in your life that will make you feel better, get more accomplished or become more successful, here are a few tips to consider:
- Change one habit at a time Trying to quit smoking and eating junk food at the same time is setting yourself up for failure. Any addictive habit you have is going to need all of your focus, so begin with one habit until it’s etched deeply in your brain and then begin another.
- Take baby steps Baby steps, rather than giant leaps can get you where you want to be faster and have more of an impact than trying to do it all at once. For example, make a commitment to write two pages of a book each day rather than attempting to finish a chapter all at once.
- Seek help if needed If you find that forming a good habit or ridding yourself of an old one is more than you can handle, seek help from a professional or a group of people who have the same problem. For example, a health care professional might be able to give you a prescription for use while going through the early days of quitting smoking.
- Don’t become discouraged Everyone is different, and it may take longer for you to form a good habit than others who seem to breeze through it. Reward yourself for sticking to the good habit and pick yourself up and continue when you have an occasional slip.
Try and gain some insight into why you have to deal with the same old bad habits over and over again. A bad habit may involve your relationships with others, a need to be comforted or a myriad of other reasons.
When you understand why the bad habit haunts you, you can more easily take steps to rectify it and create good habits.