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Forming a habit

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Habits change in to character.

Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon in the 1950s when he began noticing a strange pattern among his patients.

Dr. Maltz discovered in the late 1950's that when he performed surgery, especially nose jobs, that it took patients about 21 days to recognize their new nose. Over time, this played out many times for him, and he realized that when he tried to form a habit, it took about the same about of time. His observation was: "These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell."

In 1960, Maltz, published that quote and thoughts on behavior change in his book called "Psycho-Cybernetics". His book has sold over 30 million copies.

Since then, MANY noted "self-help" professionals, as well as writers and speakers, used this 21-day rule as the absolute as to the time it takes to form a habit. They were, and are, wrong. In a recent study published by the European Journal of Social Psychology, Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, decided to figure out how long it actually takes to form a habit.

The study examined habits of 96 people over a 12-week period. Each person chose a new habit for the 12 weeks and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior and how automatic the behavior felt.

According to the study, it takes 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic and a new habit took between 18 and 254 days to fully form.

The reason this is important, is because this original quote from Maltz was basically mis-quoted. He said that it took AT LEAST 21 days to form a habit, and this was only his own observations. He had no study, just his reflections. We have taken his opinion and made it fact.

Forming a habit, whether it is drinking water when you get up, or sitting down when you eat, or even better, checking every single label before you buy something, is not something that is done in 21 days. It is done on each of our own timetables, and it is important that we all understand that and take the time to develop our own good habits.

I'm still working on a few....

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm still 'working' on this too! I will for the rest of my life! Everyday, every moment, step by step!

    emoticon 5-20-16 Happy Friday! Flash Mob, tomorrow, should be fun! emoticon Have a GREAT weekend, everyone! emoticon

    1794 days ago
  • no profile photo JEANNETTE59
    Very interesting, thanks for sharing. emoticon
    1802 days ago
    I found what you wrote extremely interesting. I have found that a lot of times I forget to read the label on a package at the store. Sometimes it works out correctly and other times not. This is one habit that I must concur for my own good. Thanks for the blog.
    1803 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
    great share..................
    1803 days ago
    Very interesting! Looking back at my own experiment of one, it took me a year of daily streak tracking before being a non-soda drinker became second nature. I stopped celebrating the anniversary of my last diet coke at about 5 years.

    On the other hand, the dental hygiene thing? Took far less time as I was far more motivated to "get it right, for the rest of my life" in the shadow of the ordeal of planing and root scaling.

    I shall have to ponder this further! emoticon
    1803 days ago
    I appreciate the information you've shared!
    1803 days ago
  • MITCHSTA1232
    Yes, new habits take time. We can do it!
    1803 days ago
    Interesting! I'll just have to try it, and see when the "automatic" kicks in, for myself.... I suspect that it varies with the behavior...
    1803 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13354694
    emoticon emoticon
    1803 days ago
    Awesome...very interesting study! And encouraging in many ways! Thanks for sharing!
    1803 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/11/2016 12:13:02 PM
  • no profile photo CHAYOR73
    Very interesting information, I guess it does take time to get into a habit.
    1804 days ago
    as Minnie said, it's amazing how quick we can break a habit.

    I'm on a morning exercise streak. Today is day 12. That is a habit I really need to keep. It gets my day off to a good start.

    1804 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    emoticon emoticon
    1804 days ago
    That is really good news for me! I figured I was just unable to change a habit - now I know I just need to keep working at it for awhile longer! Thanks for sharing.
    1804 days ago
    The kundalini yoga tradition says it takes 40 days to change a habit, 90 days to confirm the new habit, 120 days to become the habit, and 1000 days to master the habit! Fun stuff but I think you are right, people are individual and each habit is individual. One thing I've learned is that good habits can be slipped out of very quickly, so it's important to stick with them as faithfully as you can!
    1804 days ago
    I'm still working on a few too! There needs to be that motivation to keep doing the thing unhabitually (is that a word???) until you don't need the motivation anymore. Do you brush your teeth every day? How many times did your parent have to tell you to do it before you started doing it on your own? (Don't ask me. I was too young to remember. LOL)

    What's important is to adopt healthy behaviors because you want to - or need to - and then keep doing them every day until they become automatic and easy. I'm so grateful that I've learned to love physical activity so much that I actually recognize how my body feels when I don't do it, and then yearn for it! Kind of like that film on your teeth when you haven't brushed! YUK!

    Have a great rest of the week. I will definitely say hi to SD for you. I wish you were still there so we could meet up for a hug.


    P.S. Yay! First to comment!!!!!
    1804 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/11/2016 10:13:48 AM
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