"21 days!", "30 days!", "72 days!", "3 months!"
No doubt you've come across the wide variety of claims that "It takes __ days to form a habit."
Being the self improvement junkie that I am, I have time and again got myself excited that this time "It's going to stick because the latest research proves it actually takes __ days and if expert "x" claims it to be so, than it MUST be so!"
The reality is that I have failed many attempts at adopting habits that I know do wonders for me and my wonderful life. Why is that? The truth is that I'm human. Which means every time I vow to implement a great new habit into my life, I rush out of the starting gate & build the foundation for failure.
That is until I began considering these 3 steps. Of course I'm not perfect (Hello - I just mentioned that I'm human), so I do fall off the wagon occasionally, but thanks to the 3rd step especially, it's easier than ever to jump right back on!
Step to habit success #1 - Make it easy to stick to
When creating a new habit, all too often we go from zero to 100 & leave no room for error.
For example, let's say you wish to establish the habit of moving your body daily. Are you currently spending each day more sedentary than active? Then don't set the unrealistic expectation of hitting the gym for 1 hour a day, 7 days a week. You won't be able to maintain this schedule & will quickly become disheartened & give up moving altogether. Instead, commit to moving for just 30 minutes twice a week. Once that becomes manageable add a third day & so on, until you are moving everyday.
Step to habit success #2 - "Show them the money!"
Parting with your hard earned moolah can be a frightening & emotional challenge, and rightly so - you worked your bum off to earn it. This is exactly why paying for a service is an effective way to ensure you follow through. You have pre-committed to the activity you wish to participate in, so when the time comes for you to show up, you'll be less likely to come up with excuses for not going.
Step to habit success #3 - Acknowledge your human-ness
Why hello there, fellow Earthling! What's that? You had a hard time sticking to your new habit and you ate 1 square of chocolate? *Insert very loud, very audible gasp*
Honestly, the day that I realised I am not a robot, was the same day I chose to enjoy lying on the couch binge-watching "Grace & Frankie" whilst emptying a family sized bag of plain (Why do they ruin a great thing by adding fake tasting flavours? Yuck!) potato chips. By the time I got up, my belly was tenderly sore from laughter whilst simultaneously bloated with salt. But the real revelation? No guilt. No wallowing in self-hatred. No crying "Well I fell off the wagon. There's no point trying to be healthy now. I may as well just spend the rest of the week sitting in a screeny, salty coma."
Previously that's exactly how that scenario would have played out. I would have treated myself like dirt for being such a failure and used that as an excuse for not even trying anymore.
The difference between giving up altogether and trying again was simply acknowledgement of the fact that I am not perfect and I deserve to enjoy life.
If you take just one thing away from what I have shared here, let it be #3. Acknowledge that your life is meant to be lived in your most joyful imperfectly perfect way.