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  • Writer's picturePersonal Development Books Online

It Takes 21 Days to Build or Break a Habit

We’ve all had habits, good ones and bad ones. We know which habits are supportive of our growth and those that are not.

There’s some habits that constantly bug us. We know they’re poor choices but we still do them because we’re in a pattern that keeps drawing us back in – tempting us.

We’ve tried many times to quit a lot of bad things – maybe smoking or eating poorly, yet we cave in after a week or so of hard work. The same can be said for trying to do good things, maybe we start exercising weekly yet fall off the path after just a couple of weeks – we seem to lose motivation.

So how can we be better at dropping poor habits and building positive ones?

Science says that it take 21 days to dissolve an old mental image and to develop a new one. It’s all well and good to try and aim for that, and we should, but it can be hard to remain so consistent.

There’s a couple of things we need to weave in to this attempt.

  • One is to reward yourself when you get things right. For example, you finish writing a page of your book so you get to have a coffee each time (it doesn’t have to be something extravagant, something simple will suffice, but make sure you reward yourself every single time). This gives the brain an opportunity to look forward to something and work hard towards a finished result.

  • The next main thing is to be gradual in your attempt. It’s important not to race too fast and burn yourself out. We need to respect that all good things take time and we must learn to be patient. There's countless stories of people who eat so well and clean for a couple of weeks, then when they finally have a ‘cheat day’ they binge all out and ruin their hard work.

Being gradual doesn’t mean you’re further behind, because most of those who race ahead and try to finish first from the get go will fall behind. You will overtake them in time if you are consistent in your efforts.

Don’t expect results overnight.

Making change doesn’t mean you have to struggle until you can’t breathe – don’t fall into that belief. However, it does mean that the changes may cause you some mental and physical strain, but you’ll get better at coping with that over time.

The more you see results from your lifestyle changes, the more you will be inspired to continue changing – to push the limits of yourself – mentally, physically, spiritually and in any other pursuit you desire.

Try and stick out that 21 days with these extra little tips and you will see the value of effort, discipline and consistency.


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