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How Much Time To Change A Habit?

Sunday, January 05, 2014

This week's Brainpickings email suggests that though we've been told it takes 21 days to change a habit, this is only generally true for habits like "Drink a glass of water after breakfast." To add a habit such as walking and have it come internally, effortlessly and automatically, we might need up to a year of conscious persistence. For someone externally motivated like myself, that means I might benefit from up to a year of reminders as I set the new behavior pattern into place.

But it's funny how some reminders spark resistance and only a few are fruitful. I need to take note of which are which. When my husband reminds me to exercise, I immediately resist. But when someone or something neutral reminds me, though the reminder is less powerful, it also sparks less resistance. I need to walk the line between a weak reminder which I can ignore, and a strong reminder which I immediately rebel against.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SATTVA 7/6/2014 12:31AM

    I would love to hear more from you. Your writing is inspirational.
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PAPAMIKIE 1/6/2014 4:51AM

    My other comment is on the 21 days to a habit comes from Maxwell Maltz's Psycho-Cybernetics published in 1960. He states this habit time as a brute fact, he offers no support or source other than his say so to support this. It has been quote and requoted over time to where it is generally accepted to be a fact. I have never found any research that actually supports it.

I have seen habits changed in the twinkleling of an eye and I have seen them not changed over many years. I do not think the questions of habit control or adaption is as simple as a fixed time or a fixed set of steps. Often, it is the case that a particular set of interventions is needed to result in a change. It is also the case that having the correct set of steps in the correct order and with the correct timing will result in change and that changing the sequence will result in not having the change.

It is rarely the case that a simplistic repeating of a different behaviour will result in a meaningful and lasting change.

Just my two cents worth.

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PAPAMIKIE 1/6/2014 4:42AM

    Gramie Leanna once asked me, "How come you can tell me what to do?"

I had just asked her, "Are you aware you are eating those cookies?"

I noted that I did not tell her what to do, I simple asked if she was aware; and that was all I was doing. Her mom often asked, "Should you be doing that?"

However, it was not really a question, it was more an command to stop, and with statement about the action being wrong.

These two nudges were and are very different. One assume Leanna many be working outside of her conscious awareness and needs to make a personal and deliberate choice; the other is a correction and is telling her what she can or should be doing.


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FLAMENM 1/5/2014 9:07PM

    I never thought of the difference between the nudge I need and the nudge I resent. Thanks for giving me an idea to think about.

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