There are a lot of concepts that tout the success of 21-day challenges. Flat belly, Reset Your Body, Lose Weight, Cleanse. You name it. Most of them are related to diet and exercise.
What’s the significance of 21 days? Supposedly it takes just 21 days to change or create a new habit. Is this true? It depends on who you ask. My take is that the wording is part of a marketing strategy and 21 days sounds easier than 60 days. People are more likely to take the leap and commit to a shorter timeframe.
How easy or hard it is to form a habit really depends on the “achievability” of the habit and your personality. For those who like to plan ahead or are able to establish routines easily, creating habits come easier. Implementing habits are harder for those that are impulsive or are not used to having routines.
A new habit is easier to make than to break an old habit because there are signals in your environment that can trigger habits. And those who try to adapt and focus on one habit at time (think of it as small steps) will find it to be easier. Whatever habit you’re trying to accomplish or change, you have to consciously repeat the action everyday. The brain is very adaptive. Once a habit is formed, the action will become automatic and second-nature.
After a 21-day challenge you still might find it difficult to “stick” to a new habit. It isn’t because you don’t have willpower —it’s because the habit hasn’t had enough time to become ingrained in your brain yet. It actually takes 66 days on average to create habit, according to research by the University College London.
I want you to be successful in meeting your goals and to set realistic expectations. What is it that you want to change long-term? Understand that each person is unique and the outcome for each person will be different. Don’t compare yourself to others either.
If you like the idea of doing something for 21 days, then go for a 21-day challenge and try to make it fun. Here are some simple ideas:
- No complaining for 21 days
- Do yoga for 15 minutes (minimum) for 21 days
- Sketch or draw something in a notebook for 21 days (doesn’t matter if you can’t “draw”)
- Write down at the end of each day what you’re grateful about for 21 days
P.S. It’s important to share with others what you’re trying to achieve as this will make you more accountable. There are some habits I need to work on too. I got out of the habit of writing everyday and have set a new challenge for myself by working on my second book. This goal will take me more than 21 days though, but will get me back into the writing habit.
My first book was published last year and my second book is a segue from that. There I said it – it’s out there now. It’s public.
What change do you want to make?