Habit Forming?

As I went to bed last night, this was the thought that flicked in my brain, “How long does it take to form a habit?”. This was in correlation to my new running lifestyle. It is something that I would like to see becoming part of my regular routine.  So, today I’m researching it a bit, and I found some interesting information here. If you don’t want to go read the article, this is the bottom line: the harder the habit, the longer it takes to form.

For example, if your goal habit it to eat one piece of fruit a day, then most people were able to achieve that in about 21 days. However, if your goal was to do 50 sit-ups everyday before breakfast, they found that most people took on average about 66 DAYS, and some even longer than that. Here’s a summary quote from the article:

“What this study reveals is that when we want to develop a relatively simple habit like eating a piece of fruit each day or taking a 10 minute walk, it could take us over two months of daily repetitions before the behaviour becomes a habit. And, while this research suggests that skipping single days isn’t detrimental in the long-term, it’s those early repetitions that give us the greatest boost in automaticity.

Unfortunately it seems there’s no such thing as small change: the much-repeated 21 days to form a habit is a considerable underestimation unless your only goal in life is drinking glasses of water.”

This actually helps me set realistic goals. I would like to make running a habit…but I can cut myself some slack if it doesn’t happen in a month. This is good to know! I’m not a failure… I’m just normal (ok… well maybe not normal, but you get the idea).

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4 responses »

  1. Interesting article. In my experience, making a “good” habit takes much longer than breaking a “good” habit. Conversely, breaking a “bad” habit takes much longer than making one! Maybe I’m one of those habit-resistant people in that sub-group!

    Seriously, it IS reassuring to know that it does take longer than 4 weeks to change my behavior — and that a momentary lapse doesn’t have to spell disaster!

  2. I was just thinking about this very thing the other day and feeling the “FAIL” – but Eric reminded me of this very information! Thanks for the reinforcement!

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