I have been given a lot of advice in my life. Look both ways before you cross the street; don’t wait til the last-minute to finish a project; if he doesn’t answer the phone the first time, he’s not going to answer the fifth time. (I’M KIDDING. I would only call three times.) Hi, my name is Ashley, otherwise known as Ashalah and I blog over at Ashalah.com.You know what the one piece of advice that stuck out the most over the course of the past five years has been? My coworker and friend once told me over one of our daily lunch discussions at my old job that:
It takes only 21 days to create a new habit.
I passed this piece of advice on to Katherine when we first started talking about this 12 changes in 12 months business. She asked me to research it a little and while I cannot trace this back to the original advice-giver, it is featured prominently in several psychological journals. The days vary from 21-28 days but when you add that all up: within a month, if done every day, a habit can be formed. Of course there are those who disagree but it’s a very interesting theory, one I’d like to see if we can prove! Considering we are trying to do one change every month, we may be able to do just that. If we implement that change every day for a month, we should be able to create a habit right?
I’m reminded of a few years ago when I decided to take up running in Central Park. I used to hate it. Would dread it and for a couple of weeks, it took me quite a bit of effort to come home from work, put on my running shoes and walk out the front door and not just plop down on the sofa like I really wanted to. But sometime after I began to want to put on my running shoes. I craved hitting the pavement and having those couple hours of alone time running in the rain, in the snow, in the sun.
I developed a habit and I bet you it took me around a month to get there. Any of the goals that we want to accomplish this year can be thought of in this same way. Want to lose weight/eat healthier? Start adding vegetables and eliminating something like candy or soda every day and while it may be hard at first, pretty soon you’ll be craving those veggies instead of the sugar and you won’t need that soda to get the energy to get through the day. Want to save money? Start bringing your lunch every day or making your own coffee (I got an $8 tiny coffee pot. It isn’t fancy, doesn’t have any buttons other than on and off but it makes coffee). Soon, you’ll be brown paper bagging it as if you’ve always been doing it. Want to be on time more? Setting your alarm fifteen minutes earlier will suck but soon, your body will get used to it.
21 days, people. 21 days. Not that long when you think of it! And When turned around, you get 12.
Somewhere, in some world, that makes sense. Happy goal-setting and goal reaching!