Contributed by Amanda Albiar
There’s a lot of misinformation floating around about how habits are formed and how long it takes. Right now, the big idea is that it takes 21 days to make a new habit. Many diets, behavioral change plans and budgeted agendas are sold as 21-day processes. There is some truth to that, but breaking a habit takes a little bit longer. Usually, when you are forming a new habit, you’re also breaking an old one.
A habit is behavioral, rooted in the psyche and driven by the routine chemical reactions your brain has been accustomed to. When you eat the same thing for breakfast every day, you condition your brain’s receptors to anticipate that item. If you don’t get that same item for breakfast, you will have to get that item eventually, because not only will you crave it, but you are more aware of the feeling it gives you when you do have it. This occurrence is you forming a chemical addiction that perpetuates a habit.
It can take less than 21 days or up to a year for a new habit to feel natural. It comes down to self-control and perseverance for both kicking or creating a habit. Those first 21 days have a big learning curve, and the gains after that seems to diminish. You should expect difficulty for the first few weeks as you learn to navigate thru the change, and then for it to become more difficult as you maintain it. Therefore, you must continually do.