How Long Will it Take to Create a New Habit?

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HowLongToCreateHabit

“How long does it take to create a new habit?” This is a question I get asked all the time.

21 days? 33 days? How long does it take?

And I can always hear the underlying desperation in their voice that’s really asking me, “How long do I have to endure this before it feels less horrible?”

 

The truth is that I think it’s the wrong question.

Creating a new habit that sticks does NOT require:

  • A certain number of days
  • Extra willpower
  • Impressive discipline
  • Moving to a new city
  • A life-changing epiphany
  • Grandiose commitments

All of these old assumptions flow from an old approach. An old approach that was about sticking with a new behavior you hate long enough for repetition to make it a habit.

How has that been working for us?

It might work for a few days or even a few weeks, but eventually your willpower gives out and you go right back to your old ways.

Relying on repetition along over a certain number of days to instil a new habit is a challenging – and usually painful – approach. One that often doesn’t even end up working at all.

 

What long-term behavior change actually requires is DELIGHT.

If you want to anything consistently, it has to feel good.

Our human brains are not wired to do things consistently unless we enjoy them. We’re wired for pleasure. It’s just who we are. Let’s stop trying to fight it.

 

So, the question isn’t, “How long will it take to create a new habit?” but rather, “How can I make this new behavior FEEL BETTER?”

How can I make this fun?

How can I make this something I look forward to?

How can I make this into something I feel really good about?

 

That’s a much more important question to be asking.

Posted in

Sara Best

7 Comments

  1. Mary on February 23, 2021 at 7:35 am

    I think of it as making better choices to live longer and move better.

  2. Irene on February 23, 2021 at 9:24 am

    Lovely! Such an inspiring thought and approach! Thanks Sara!

    • Louise Fletcher on February 23, 2021 at 9:52 pm

      Bring it on !
      I’m ready for the fun 😊

  3. Lesley on February 23, 2021 at 11:19 pm

    Such a simple idea. Why isn”t this the way we are advised to see habit changes by coaches, bloggers, media, society … or have I just missed it because I subconsciously believe if it’s not difficult/painful it’s not working ?

  4. Jessica on February 24, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Yes! My habit of continuing to eat after dinner is broken by going into a room by myself to read right after dinner for 20-30 min. A luxury! I look forward to this time, and family know to leave me alone lol.

  5. Jane Jenner on February 24, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    I like the idea of keeping things that bring delight as a goal. I have found this has been very helpful in food choices. I look forward to my meals and snacks and make sure to have the food I enjoy; berries, oranges, apples, mango, veggies and hummus, salad with fixings etc. I do not even crave other the unhealthy snacks.
    I did plan for a treat for Valentine’s Day for 1 scoop of my favourite ice cream at Baskin Robins (and one for my husband), I thoroughly enjoyed it!
    Now to think of things that will bring delight in exercising.
    Thank you Sara, I am really like your approach of changing our brain.
    Jane 🌸

  6. Vicki on February 27, 2021 at 11:03 am

    I love this Sara! Hugs

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