Behavior Change: How long does it take to form a new habit?
Behavior Change: How Long?
Behavior Change: Every once in a while someone emails me and asks something like, “I sit on the couch too much. I’m trying to be more active. How many days will it take before my new exercise routine becomes a habit? My friends tell me it will take about thirty days, but I think it will only take 25. What do you think?”
After I get such a question, I walk across my oak-paneled office, open a hidden door, and follow the steps down to my secret lair. Among my five billion volumes, I find the book with questioner’s name inscribed upon it. I consult a few tables and do some calculations. I have to factor in the person’s age at the time she queried me, the particular habit she wants to acquire, and a few (thousand) other variables. Aha! 23.638 days! I rush back up to my computer . . .
On the other hand, it might have been easier to dash into my time machine to find out how long it took my questioner. I could then report back to her . . .
Of course, that kind of messing with laws of physics would create a temporal paradox that only a good Hollywood writer could ignore.
The foregoing was not meant to mock anyone in particular, except perhaps psychologists. I understand. You want to replace a bad habit with a new good habit and you want to know how long it will take. I’m sorry that I don’t have a hard and fast answer for you.
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