Thursday, February 23, 2017

How long does it take to create a habit?

Good habits start early.
You've no doubt read that if you don't floss you will eventually die. Same is true for people who don't eat eggplant: they eventually die.

So you need to work some good habits into your pathetic life. How long will that take, you ask. Well, I'm going to tell you.

I get this information from Dr. Jeremy Dean, a British psychologist and author who has a PhD in psychology from University College London. That's pretty impressive. Also, he's written a book, Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick. That's quite a mouthful. I think he should get in the habit of brevity.

Okay, bottom line: it can take from 21 to 254 days to develop a habit, depending on what it is. You have to read an entire book to learn this. I'm pretty sure it's worth it. You can get a free chapter here. They're giving it way free, because I don't know why.

So, the doctor gets his information from a study of 96 people. Are you thinking what I'm thinking: why not 100? Maybe there were four who couldn't form the participation habit.

Here are some results.
People who resolved to drink a glass of water after breakfast were up to maximum automaticity after about 20 days, while those trying to eat a piece of fruit with lunch took at least twice as long to turn it into a habit. The exercise habit proved most tricky with '50 sit-ups after morning coffee,' still not a habit after 84 days for one par­ticipant. 'Walking for 10 minutes after breakfast,' though, was turned into a habit after 50 days for another participant. By extrapolating the curves, it turned out that some of the habits could have taken around 254 days to form -- the better part of a year!
So that's pretty helpful.

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