It's been a long running misconception that it takes 21 days to break a habit. That concept was set in place by the books Psycho-Cybernetics in 1960 by a plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz, who observed the length of time that people feel phantom limbs after amputation.
How Long Until a New Habit is Formed?
The fact is, it takes more than 2 months on average before a new behavior is automatic. (Read this study performed by Phillippa Lally at University College London). And actually, it depends upon how hard coded that habit is in your lifestyle. For instance, if you've had coffee every day for 40 years, that's a pretty ingrained habit. Alternatively, if you run 3 miles 4 times a week and want to increase it to 6 days a week, you might have an easier time of it even though it is something that actually takes more work.
A couple of the guru's that I mentioned in my first blog have something to say about habits, as well. In particular, my inspiration for this challenge, John Assaraf, has a lot to say about changing your habits, and he suggests aiming for AT LEAST 66 days, and better yet, 100 days.
"You can retrain your brain
to develop different neuropathways
and daily habits for success."
John says that the brain has much to do about the "habit loop" that I might be in. Apparently, my basal ganglia needs to be reprogrammed! Who knew? So, my neural pathway super highway of behavior is going to be very tempting and appealing, however, I will be choosing that dirt path. That has weeds. And logs. And probably some boulders. Yikes!
I love John's tip about replacing habits. Basically, I'll identify the triggers for the opposite behavior of my new habits. I'll decide upon alternative behaviors for the TRIGGER, and anytime I am triggered, I'll repeat the alternative behavior, which will start to clear that dirt road. By day 66 to 100, that road will be my new super highway!
My Habits, Triggers and Replaced Behavior
Here are the habits I am going to pave for my goals and their triggers and replaced behavior:
HEALTH: I am happy to wear a swimsuit in public! I look amazing.
Old habit: eating wheat, sugar and drinking alcohol and exercising irregularly. What I notice: when I drink, I'm less likely to get up in the morning and exercise. Not feeling healthy cascades into a lower resistance to breads, which snowballs into needing a pick-me-up in the afternoon, like CHOCOLATE. (pause here to salivate...)
New habit: Starts with not drinking. Then I'll get up in the am. Because I am energetic, I'll bop over to the gym. Feeling good gets me eating healthy and then why would I ruin that all with sleepytime gluten and sugar? Who knows! Increasing my raw greens significantly and going on a high raw, low animal, no sugar diet, with yoga, exercise and weekly fasting is my plan so far.
Alternative behaviors: When I'm craving a drink: Kombucha in a wine glass. When I'm craving chocolate: raw unsweetened cacao (yes, I do love it and it's remarkably satisfying! :-) When I don't want to go to the gym: get up and do some sun salutations outside.
WEALTH: I am free of personal debt.
Yikes, this is a hard one.
Old habit: not balancing my wealth spreadsheet regularly. Not looking at my goals. Not working on my coaching business everyday.
New habit: Keep my wealth spreadsheet up to date weekly. Spend a little time working on my business every week. Like this blog!
Alternative behavior when I'm in avoidance: Look at my vision board with Paris and my Family, Skiing and my Family, and my new Tesla in my cobblestone driveway.
BUSINESS: I am inspired by the record sales at KJD with net income at 20%.
Old habit: getting unfocused about what to work on, and working in the business rather than ON the business.
New habit: looking at my goals everyday. Having an organized list of strategies, prioritized by most impactful. Taking action every day to move them forward.
Alternative behavior when I get caught in a work loop: punch myself in the gut. Just kidding, actually look at the 401k plans for the staff.
SPIRITUALITY/CONTRIBUTION: I am inspiring others by writing or speaking in 100 blogs or vlogs.
Old habit: avoiding writing. Letting other things become a priority.
New habit: Non negotiable writing every night.
Alternative behavior: Nails in the bed until I'm done. Nah, but WRITE ANYTHING! Look at my 100 day goals!
RELATIONSHIP: I am being with those I love by going on 25 dates with my family and friends.
Old habit: making myself the most important person all the time.
New habit: plan dates.
Alternative behavior: schedule it in google calendar in advance!
What I did today
1) Worked out in AM
2) Guided 6 phase meditation (my favorite visioning meditation) with Vishen Lakhiani of Mindvalley
3) Completed a 1 day water fast (wow did I start to feel like shit by the end of the day!)
4) Watched my son's volleyball game with my husband (I don't think that was a date, but maybe I could get half a point?)
5) Wrote this blog
Wow, that doesn't sound like much, does it? There's something about running a business with 20 employees and having 3 kids that sucks up my time. This day was mostly about detoxing. I could really feel the toxins swimming around in my blood by the end of the day. Lots of water and early sleep.