In less than a month, the ball will drop in New York City's Times Square as we ring in the new year. Wouldn't it be great to do something to improve your life before then?
Instead of joining the masses who make New Year's resolutions that often fail, I propose that you mix things up and make an end-of-year resolution instead.
CREATING A NEW HABIT
I am often asked "How long does it take to create a new habit?" I read a few articles about 10 years ago that claimed it takes 21-days to create a habit. To be clear, I do not think this is based on scientific research. It did, however work for me. I initially tested the 21-day theory with flossing and, I'm happy to report I've been flossing daily ever since (and my gums are now super-healthy).
This 2010 report on habit formation, describes an experiment with 96 volunteers who took anywhere from 18 to 254 days to create a new habit. The average was 66 days (which you may have seen cited in various publications). I don't find this article particularly compelling given the small sample size and wide range of test results. Most importantly, I think the time it takes to create a habit will depend on the magnitude of the habit change and your drive.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Putting research and statistics aside for a moment, let's talk about what makes sense for you. To create a new habit that will last, you need motivation, determination, and practicality. Don't look for radical change in 21 days. Build small but meaningful changes, one at a time, into your daily routine. Over time, these small changes can have a profound impact.
Because the 21-day system worked for me, I continue to use it. Over time, I have created a morning routine that includes a 90-second plank, pilates 100s, stretching, and meditation. But I only introduced one thing at a time.
Start with one small change. Having trouble thinking of something? Here are a few ideas:
2. Two 30 second planks.
3. 5 push-ups.
4. Make 3 entries in a gratitude journal.
5. Write down one thing you have done for someone else.
6. Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
7. Meditate for 2 minutes.
8. Avoid drinking soda.
9. Compliment someone.
10. Don't sleep with your phone next to your bed.
To help you with the 21-day challenge, print out this calendar. Each day you participate in the new habit, put a large X in the box. After a few days, you will notice a chain of X's. Try not to break the chain, but if you do, don't give up! Get back on track and try not to miss two days in a row.
Let me know how it goes!
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