Changing a Habit

Now that the new year is here everyone is all about a new start.  Usually having a new start means changing something you already do for the better.  But what does it take to change? What is the right amount of time you should give yourself to change?

We live in a world where everything should happen immediately.  We get frustrated when our internet page doesn’t pop up right away or a medication doesn’t cure us instantly.  What we are forgetting is our human nature does not allow us to change instantly, we are not chameleons.

Today me and a customer were talking about changing habits and how long it takes.   He was mentioning how some addiction programs are now shortened to only 15 days and we were questioning whether someone would be able to even change a habit in 15 days.  Then I mentioned how I had heard it takes at least 21 days to change a habit so if you stick to a 21 day strategy it should work.  But it turns out that is not the case.  After looking into the 21 days as a habit change rule it turns out studies have proven it to be false.  It takes a lot more time to change a habit on average at least 66 days, but it all depends on what the habit is and what the intent is.  I recently started to pick up a habit of making my boyfriends bed.  I had never made my bed in the past so this was a new concept to me.  After about a week, making the bed felt more like a routine but I find it is still easy for me to forget to make it.  Because making a bed is still not a habit that has been repeated numerous times for me so it doesn’t  feel as natural.  Now looking at this situation I had never had a desire to make a bed before in my life.  It was nothing that was enforced in my childhood therefore it was a new concept to me.  What made me change the thought process in my mind to now start making the bed was the fact that I knew how happy it would make my boyfriend.  I knew that he had grown up making a bed and therefore would be a little thrown off if he came home to sheets still looking slept in and pillows on the floor.

The mind is powerful thing at it especially important when it comes to changing a habit.  When your mind is making a decision it is using cognitive thinking and weighing the pros and cons of the decision.  So in order to change a habit you will already have to have your mind set on that goal, so then your brain will have more pros on its side to continue the change.  For example if we are changing our exercise habits so that we start going to the gym more we will need make that decision a goal.  That way we will have a lot of pros in mind so that when we are lying in bed at 6am wondering if we should sleep for another hour or go the gym it will be a “no brainer”, meaning our mind already knows what the decision is.

The point is that you have to be the one to make the decision to change and to see the good in the change you are choosing to make.  When you start your journey of change you need to know that it will not happen over night and you need to give yourself time to change.  Taking steps in the right direction everyday will eventually make your new change as natural as taking steps.  Remember once upon a time you couldn’t even take steps to walk and now look at where you have come.

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