Last month I talked about the importance of breaking down whatever new habit you want to create into bite sized chunks. Creating (lots of) TINY habits is so much more achievable (and therefore more likely to be long lasting) than focusing on a completely new diet (just add or take away 1 thing!) or fitness regime (just spend 1-5min every day on an activity that makes you feel like you’re the kind of person who works out). Lots of people ask how long it takes to establish a new habit and the honest answer is that it’s only a habit as long as you do it, so forever really….yikes! However, it does get easier once it’s becomes automatic and you stop having to make a conscious decision to engage in whatever it is you want to do.
21 days, 30 days, 60 days!? Research shows that habit formation is so personal that there’s no way of knowing how long it takes to form a habit. But, anywhere between 18-254 days is considered “normal”. It really depends on the resistance you have towards the new behaviour. They do not have to be consecutive days, if you miss a day you’re NOT starting from scratch, you just move on the next day.
So that brings me on to the crucial part that I didn’t mention last month, the importance of rewarding yourself. To remove the resistance you’ve got to make sure you reward yourself every step of the way. Being critical of yourself (hello ‘inner critic’!) ultimately leads to learned helplessness. You don’t know what to do (not to get “told off”) so you do nothing. Be kind to yourself, it’s an ESSENTIAL part of habit formation. You’ve got to feel good about what you’re doing to engage in the behaviour. Personally I love a good ‘tick’ so I have a chart/habit tracker on my fridge with a list of healthy habits I want to engage in. Every time I do something on the list I get a tick which is a bit like a visual “high five!”. Once I have X amount of ticks I get to treat myself to something nice (make sure the treat fits with the type of person you’re trying to become, i.e. if you want to be a healthy eater don’t treat yourself with junk food).
So if there’s one habit to engage in it’s to be nicer to yourself. Try it for a week and see for yourself. Be kind, supportive, encouraging (just like you would be to your best friend or child) and see how much more motivating it is!
Good luck! x