Imagine for a moment that you had complete self control. You can do anything you set your mind to, and all you needed to do is simply think about it. This, in fact, is reality. But the big difference is that humans are creatures of habit, and habits steer your self control back to what is perceived as comfortable and familiar.
Stick with us, and we will show you the best ways to trick your habits to work for you, and how to create new, better ones instead!
Back in the 1950s and 60s, plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz theorized that it must take only 21 days for somebody to form a new habit. He came to this conclusion when he noticed his patients who received a nose job only got used to seeing their new nose 21 days after surgery. His finding would echo through history, and many self-help entrepreneurs can be heard touting this line all over their social media, self-help books, and other products.
The issue is, this was broad speculation performed by a doctor, but was never tested or backed by science. Also, a change in body parts does not constitute a new habit, rather something new to get used to. It may take the human body 21 days to get used to a drastic change, but what about actual habits?
How Long Does It Take Then?
With modern science at the helm of discovery, we actually now can give a more accurate number for forming new habits. 66 days, or about two months, can settle a new habit into your life. This means that you have to perform your wanted habit for two months before it truly will become second nature to you.
Keep in mind that this an average number, meaning it was the average time found. Depending on your lifestyle and choices, it could take even longer to truly form a new habit, up to a year even. But don’t let that discourage you from trying; everyone is different after all.
Staying Motivated To Change
The hardest part about changing habits is that it does take a long amount of time. You may make mistakes along the way, and this should not stop you from trying. Mistakes are the natural occurrence of trying to change, you’ll almost always run into. Here are some great tips you can try to stay on course:
30 Day / 1 Month Challenge
One basic way to stay motivated is to try a 30 day challenge. Challenge yourself to 30 days, 1 month, of the habit you want and see if you can stick with it for 30 days. A great tactic for keeping with this is to stage a reward for yourself for each week you complete. It can be anything you want, your favorite meal, a good movie, or maybe a cheat day.
With some positive reinforcement, you can make the change easier to cope with. Your body and mind will tell you at times that you cannot do this, and you may feel impulses to go back to what is normal and comfortable. Find ways to subvert your own mind. Pick up motivational books, listen to motivational speakers and podcasts, and tell yourself that ‘you can do this’.
As mentioned above, having rewards set up for your journey can be a very good way to inject positive reinforcement into your goal. It helps you not veer off the patch you want to go down. Remember that the only way to get what you want is the dedication to say no to your old habits, and in the process open up room for new, better habits instead.
Find Your Trigger
Especially for bad habits, you will start to notice that there is always something that triggers the routine. For those who try to stop smoking cigarettes, common triggers are things like waking up in the morning, if you have an alcoholic drink, or even a break at work all make you want to light up a smoke. If you can become aware of your triggers, you can also find a way to subvert them.
Correct The Underlying Problem
It’s quite possible that you have a bad habit for compensation of something else. We have all heard of stress eating, when you become stressed from everyday life, you may indulge in bad food to stop thinking about that stress, even if it’s only for a moment. It’s natural for us to find coping mechanisms, but rarely are they constructive unless we put in the extra effort.
Changing a habit is something that requires a lot of effort and hard work. The worst part is that it is not a one or two day process. It takes months to years to change anything, and its easy for us to fall back into our routine.
The best piece of advice we can give you is to also cut yourself some slack. Since change is so hard, you may fail multiple times. But change was never supposed to be easy. If you manage to succeed, the victory is all the better. Not only that, but you will feel a productive surge of happiness, and it may just give you the motivation and strength to change other things in your life as well.
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