How to personally improve your habits

Every person’s life is filled with habits. I, myself, have some good habits and of course a few bad ones. I am always late because I am a bad planner, I eat a lot of sweets during the day and I tend to communicate badly to everyone around be about when I will be where. Changing these negative habits into good ones cost time and effort. How to change them and how to create new ones? Read this facts and figures about forming habits:

Let me start with an example: I want to exercise every day right after breakfast and in this exercise I will do 20 push-ups and 50 sit-ups.
For exercise to be effective, repetition is necessary. So I need to make it a habit!

Habit formation is the process by which new behaviours become automatic

There are three important questions you can ask yourself when forming a new habit:
– The Why; the why of a habit formation is the source of motivation and dedication. Why do I want to exercise? Do I want to lose weight? Do I like to become more muscular? Do I do it for myself or do I do it for others? How far am I willing to go for my “why?”
– The How; the how decides the amount of effort and time needed to create a habit. Do I need to change my entire life to create this habit? Do I need tools or help from others? Can I do it while studying or working or do I hand in some spare time?
– The What; the what is the transformation of the above into realistic steps. What do I need to do exactly to create this habit? Do I need 20 or 30 repetitions? Do I need a 30 minute walk next to my exercises?

When using my example I get the following answers:
Why: Because I want to feel more energetic and healthy and because I want to make myself stronger and create a better looking body.
How: By doing a physical exercise daily.
What: Every morning after my breakfast I do 20 push-ups and 50 sit-ups.

There, I created a planning to form a habit. Now the hardest part: holding on to this planning.

The human mind and habits
There have been multiple researches about how we humans create habits.

Following plastic surgery it takes about 21 days for the average patient to get used to his new face.

When an arm or leg is amputated the “phantom limb” persists for about 21 days.

People must live in a new house for about three weeks before it begins to “feel like home”.

So concerning a personal image of oneself it takes 21 days to change. (Psycho-Cybernetics, 1960, by Maxwell Maltz )
Though this gives a fair idea of how long it takes to change a mental aspect of oneself, it does not focus on habit formation.

Later research shows that it takes a lot longer to create a habit.
When researchers examined different habits, many of the participants in the research showed a curved relationship between practice and automaticity similar to the solid line below. On average a “plateau” in automaticity was reached after 66 days. In human language this means that  it had become as much of a habit as it was ever going to become.

As you can see it takes less time learn to drink a glass of water daily than to do 50 sit-ups.

So, the average time needed to create a habit appears to be 66 days! Luckily research shows that missing a day of repetition in your habit formation is not a big deal. It does not reduce the effect of forming a habit.

Also every person is different, don’t pinpoint yourself to 66 days. Persistence is key to creating new habits, don’t give up!

How to fight off a bad habit?
“Bad habits die hard,” it costs a lot of effort to change a habit.
However when you want change in your life, you can’t avoid the change of a bad habit.
To fight of a bad habit, you need to create a new habit that somehow counters this bad habit.
If I want to stop watching TV between 7 and 10 p.m. I need to create a different occupation for that time.
Be creative, you will be able to think of something else to do! Need some help? Mail me.

Good luck creating new habits and enjoy life,

PS. Need a easy action plan to start creating a new habit? Click here