How long does it take to form a habit?
It has been widely stated that it takes 21 days to form a habit. However, the length of time really depends on a number of factors such as your mindset and how big a change the habit is from what you are currently doing.
Creating a habit is often easier said than done. It doesn’t seem to take any effort to acquire bad habits but quite often forming a good habit can be much more challenging. The following tips can help you to succeed in keeping your habit goals.
How to create a habit
1. Be specific
You will have more chance of being successful if you quantify your habit. For example instead of telling yourself –
- eat 3 pieces of fruit
- walk 30 minutes
- drink 8 glasses of water
You won’t be able to put a figure on every habit but if you can, you should.
2. Choose the frequency
A lot of habits will be daily, such as drink 8 glasses of water. However, some habits, such as go to the gym could have a frequency of 3 times a week or if you like the idea of regularly having some me time by creating a pamper habit, this could have a frequency of once a week for 30 minutes.
Whichever frequency you choose, it’s important to be consistent. So if you have a daily habit, complete it at the same time each day, if this isn’t possible try to connect your new habit with another established habit you have such as before/after breakfast, immediately after work, after you drop off the children from school, before your bedtime routine etc.
3. Have a reminder
This is where a habit tracker can really help you. At the beginning of creating a habit you’re bound to be very enthusiastic and determined but then life can sometimes get in the way and your good intentions can fade into the background.
Use your habit tracker to remind yourself of the task(s) that you need to complete.
If you like to use a planner to organise your time, you can find a weekly planner which includes a small habit tracker area HERE.
What should I do if I break my new habit?
Firstly, don’t be too hard on yourself. You can slip up, this doesn’t mean you have failed. Sometimes the hardest thing about creating a habit is starting. So if you’ve slipped up, remind yourself that you have already taken the biggest step with starting and a slip up doesn’t have to mean failure.
Try to identify why you slipped. Is the habit you’re trying to create unrealistic? For example, if your new habit is to walk 10,000 steps every day but you are not an active person and haven’t done any form of exercise for a long time, you might want to make this a final target habit and start with a smaller goal for a certain length of time and gradually lead up to your final target habit.
Making a change to your habit may be more beneficial in the long run as you will have a better chance of being successful in the long run rather than trying to achieve an unrealistic goal.
If you believe that your habit is realistic, take a moment to reflect on how many times you have already completed the habit on your habit tracker, pause and congratulate yourself for the work you have already done. Then keep on reminding yourself that you’ve done it in the past so can do it in the future, in time the habit will become second nature to you.
Just remember, you can fall but it’s up to you whether you want to stay down or if you will get back up.
To help you form your habit, download this habit tracker.
Scroll down and click the relevant link below to download a copy.
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