Change is not easy. This applies to living and eating habits as well as behavior.
To really make something your own, you have to repeat it, stay aware, and stick to it.
And I believe that the motivation really should come from you and not because someone else wants it, or society expect it from you.
The 'twenty one days' myth
It is often said that it takes 21 days for something to become a new habit. However, research has shown that it probably takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days, so with an average of 66 days. This number is quite different from 21 days.
So it may be that you need less than 3 weeks to change something, but it may just as well take months to change. Maybe these numbers are reassuring for you and it takes a little bit of pressure off if you want to change something in your life and it takes a little longer than you hoped.
In a study by Phillippa Lally, Health Psychology researcher at University College London, 96 people were studied over a 12-week period. She found that it can take 2 to 8 months for a new behavior to become a habit.
How long a process takes can therefore vary greatly, depending on the behavior, the person himself and the circumstances.
What is also interesting is that the study found that if people had moments when they “missed moments to put the habit into practice,” there was no substantial influence of it on the overall formation process of this newly desired habit. In other words; it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes every now and then. Learning new good habits and an adjusted lifestyle is not an ‘all-or-nothing’ process.
5 steps to change habits
With the above data from surveys in mind, where are you going to start getting better habits?
Step 1. Be convinced.
The first step is actually very simple: Knowing that you need changes in your life.
Step 2: Make choices
Identify what you want to change. It is advisable to actually write down these choices, so that it becomes visible to yourself and becomes reality.
If you have a lot of things written down, try to choose up to 3 things.
Step 3: Clear motivation
State why you want to change the habit. What is the core of this wish or perhaps there is a need. And why do you want the change now and not later.
Step 4: Prioritize
Decide what you would like to tackle first. If you want to change 5 things at once, chances are that it will be a tough task and a greater chance of not succeeding.
Step 5: Be concrete.
In the last step you will see what exactly you want to change. If you have written a general description in step 2, try now to be more precise and how you will approach this per point.
Then all those big steps and smaller steps will come of the change process.
This process is different for everyone.
In this process you will also look and charting what goes easy and what proves to be a challenge, what is the mental effect and if applicable what the physical changes are. How do you deal with setbacks and do you celebrate your results? These and more questions you can ask yourself or with the help of another person.
Loving kindness towards yourself
Don’t judge yourself for having habits you want to change.
Give yourself time and rest during your process
Motivate yourself but do not exert too much pressure.
And finally, I think it is important not to be too hard on yourself when things sometimes don’t go as you wished. Instead, just try to be aware of it, stay kind to yourself and start over. As emerged from above mentioned research, it doesn’t really matter so much if sometimes it doesn’t go the way you had in mind.
The process of letting go of an old habit can sometimes be just as difficult, or even more difficult, as learning a new habit.
If you want to know more about lifestyle, what it means and what lifestyle-related disorders are, take a look at the blog “what is a healthy lifestyle?”
I am Jolinda Cath, massage and Reiki therapist and yoga instructor.
In a holistic way I treat and inspire people to improve their well-being and to increase the overall feelings of happiness.
With my inspiration blogs I hope to give you ideas and handouts.