How long does it take to create a new Habit?

Creating a new habit, no matter how big or small isn’t easy, if it was, we would all be creating new healthy habits skipping through life. Of course, we have good intentions, maybe we want to cut down our alcohol or sugar intake, or eat more healthily, or join the 5 am club, whatever we consciously believe will have a positive impact on our lives, but life gets in the way. But is it life getting in the way, or is it our subconscious mind?

For us to change or create a new lasting habit, the neural pathways in our brain needs to change direction, reorganise and grow, this is known as neuroplasticity. Our existing habits were created with repetition until that pathway became so familiar that it became a habit, so new habits are to be created in the exact same way, with repetition.

How many days then? I’m sure you’ve heard that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. I like to go one step further and say it takes 40 days to create a new habit but before writing this blog I read on Forbes magazine it takes 66 days! So, let’s go with it takes a minimum of 21 days to create a new habit.

However, I think it needs to be more about your mindset rather than counting down days for something to solidify in your brain. There are two tools I teach my Cleopatra Effect clients when creating new habits:

  1. When you’re falling into the temptation of that extra drink or getting a takeaway instead of cooking a healthy meal, or watching another episode of a boxset, your familiar brain will try and convince you, there’s no harm in doing so. This is when you must take control of your thinking and getting into a reward mindset and imagine how good you will feel tomorrow or later by not falling into temptation. Visualise yourself feeling great. Remember the one emotion we all feel when we don’t stick to something is shame, so imagine and feel the shame you will feel by disappointing yourself.
  2. If, however you do fail and have a little blip, this too is ok, it’s just one day, there’s always tomorrow to start again. And when I say tomorrow, I mean tomorrow, not next week or next month, the time is now! With the emotion of shame, comes the action of defeat, you had a bad day, so what. Imagine looking at a beautiful vase of flowers and whilst looking closely you notice one dead flower, you would never throw away the whole bunch, you just throw away the one dead flower, so treat the relapse day as one dead flower, and go back to appreciating the rest of the journey. The best bit is, the further in the journey you get, the easier the path.

Nisha x