Want to Change?
Have you ever thought to yourself before going to sleep tomorrow is the day I’ll change. Tomorrow is the day I’ll get up early in the morning. I will have a healthy breakfast, go for a morning jog and breathe fresh air. Tomorrow is the day I want to change to who I really want to be. The best version of my self.
Needs of Change
While change doesn’t come easy. You have to incorporate certain habits in your life that’ll eventually lead to you becoming the best version of your self. You’ll also have to eliminate certain habits that are hindering your path. Well how long will it take you to form a new habit or get rid of an old one?
21 Days Myth
Most people will tell you it takes exactly 21 days for a person to form a habit or get rid of an old one. I remember once in high school. One of my teachers told me it takes exactly 21days for me to form a new habit. I thought this is my chance to become a bed maker. Firstly I thought that for the next 21 days instead of getting up every day and yelling mom please don’t forget to make my bed today. Secondly I thought I’d do it my self day by day. Early in the morning 6 A.M even on days I was running late. I got up every morning and I made my bed and hated every second of it.
By day 22 I opened my eyes and the first thing I did was say mom please don’t forget to make my bed today. I quit and of course that was expected. First thought was, Okay.! May be I’m just gonna be a little bit worse at life than bed makers. Whatever I do not exaggerate. If I say that this 21 day theory is the most famous myth in the world of self-development.
21 Days Change Theory, A Postmortem
let’s dive a little into our theory to understand! Where the number 21 came from and the reasons for its spread in self-developmental books and courses. Dr. Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon in the 1950s. When he began noticing a strange pattern among his patients. For example in a nose job he saw that the patient took exactly 21 days to get used to start seeing his or her new nose.
He also noticed that if a patient had an armor leg amputated. The patient would acknowledge the feeling of their new limb for exactly 21 days before starting to get used to their new condition. Dr. Maltz published his theory in a book that went very famous in that era and sold over 30 million copies.
Here the conflict started brewing and people and it made sense. Why people were starting to believe his theory? why number one the number 21 is considered a source a short period of time? That’s also considered a source of temptation which means something you can do. Number two the number 21 is also long enough to be believable.
Change as a Challenge
A difficult challenge but not impossible. I mean who wouldn’t love to change their whole life within just 21 days. Wouldn’t you love to start waking up early in the morning every day? Or wouldn’t you love to start cooking healthy recipes, start drinking weird smoothies and all within less than one month.
We’d go for it in a heart beat. So is it true can we really change our lives within 21days? I know that sounds very exciting. But there are actually a few factors you’d have to consider to be able to estimate the time. It’ll take you to form a new habit or get rid of an old toxic one.
First is the complexity of your goal. If I decide to start eating fruit daily which is considered a simple habit. I’d probably take less time than if I want to acquire a complex athletic skill like a tennis serve. Second is behavior consistency affects the speed of acquisition. Me repeating a certain behavior for three minutes a day is different than my friend repeating the same behavior for 30minutes a day.
So we want to clear things up. How long will it take us to form a new habit or get rid of an old one and is there a reliable study that we can depend on. The answer is yes. There is a famous study by the psychologist Philippa Lally “how are habits formed”. The study followed 96 people over a period of 12 weeks.
Each person chose a new 12-week habit to work on or change. Such as drinking 3 cups of water before lunch or running for 15 minutes after dinner. After 12 weeks the data was analyzed to determine the time needed to move from the old habit to start subconsciously carrying out the new one. So after 12 weeks we found that it took approximately two to eight months in order for the task to become a habit. 66 days to be exact the difference in time. It took to form a habit was largely due to the task it self.
The person and their circumstances as some were able to form the habit within 18 days while others took 254 days. So according to psychologist Lali, if you want to know the time required to form a new habit or get rid of an old one the truth is that you may need two to eight months and not just 21 days.
Committed enough to Change!
Whether it’s two months three months a year two years. It doesn’t actually matter how long it takes. As much as it matters that you have to begin with today. Once you begin, make sure to maintain your new habit.
Make it part of your schedule set reminders, create a supportive environment and most importantly you don’t have to be perfect. Making a mistake once or twice has no lasting effects on your behavior actually. That’ll give you time not to rush yourself into things. You have to give yourself time and not just rush yourself into becoming a better version.
If I want to become a better person I’ll have to commit to the system and embrace the process. That way I’ll commit to making tiny improvements rather than rushing myself too hard into things.
Change is not always easy and it’s not always simple but with enough dedication we can reshape any habit. So if you really want it becoming the best version of your self get up today and start working on it. i promise you’ll get there thank you