“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.