Research shows that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. That’s 21 days of going to the gym every day or exercising in some way every day, 21 days to meditation, 21 days to eat healthily, 21 days doing, 21 days of anything. When you want to start a habit, don’t tell yourself you are doing it for life, tell yourself (your conscious brain) that you are going to try it for 21 days. For example if you want to start the habit of meditating tell your conscious self that you are trying it for 21 days. Now, when you have completed this for 21 days your conscious mind has the choice of stopping it or carrying on, or so it thinks. Your neural pathways have formed already and you will more than likely continue with your new habit, you will have seen the benefits along the way your unconscious will want to continue if it has been beneficial.
This can also work when trying to break a habit, however research has shown that the neural pathways to any habit could be lifelong and a cue or a trigger can cause us to start back up an old habit, like smoking.
This is not a bad thing; we just have to be aware of our thoughts when we have given up a habit such as smoking.
When starting or breaking any habit we tend to tell our conscious mind we are going to change and it’s for life. Your conscious mind will just say is that right? I’m in charge here, I’ll decide’ so there will be a battle between your two sides of your conscious mind.
If you tell your mind you want to try something for 21 days it won’t be so unwilling to co-operate. This might sound a little strange when I say talking to your conscious’ as it is your conscious talking to your conscious. We all know we have conversations with ourselves, should I go to the pub should I not, should I go to the gym should I not. There are a hundred conversations we have with ourselves everyday.
When we want to start something or give up something, smoking for example, you might normally say to yourself right that’s it I’m giving up for good’. Immediately your brain kicks in and says no smoking for life, and then it starts to think of all the situations it likes a good cigarette in; first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, going out for a drink at night, at work when you’re a bit stressed, just after sex etc. Your brain thinks ‘lack of’ instead of the benefits of. It can’t really think as clearly about the benefits because it hasn’t yet had the benefits of giving up smoking but it knows the supposed pleasures that smoking brings.
So what habits can we start for 21 days?
I have made a list for myself that I am in the middle of doing;
- Give up sweets for 21 days
- Meditate for 21 days
- Write in the blog every day for 21 days
- Get up before 6am every day (I’ve actually made this a habit now)
- Drink a vegetable juice for 21 days
This is just a small list of the things I am doing. Feel free to share you 21 day new habits.