How Long Does it Really Take to Build a Habit?

This is a cross-post from Girlsgone40.  Enjoy!

Girlsgone40 is a year-long challenge because our birthdays happened to fall about 10 months apart.  And while the main goal of the challenge is to run 40K of races, really, we’d just like to become healthier people.  We’d like to build better habits.

Turns out, we made a great choice in the timing of our challenge.

How long do you think it takes to build a habit? (by “build a habit ”, I mean it’s easier to do the action than not to  – – it feels odd not to do it.)

yellow cable

Is the number 21 days floating in the back of your mind?  Search “21 Days” on Amazon and you’ll find over 700,000 results promising things like a new body, a new mind, and even a new novel in 21 days!

Also, you can get a healthier mouth in 21 days. If Listerine says it, it must be true.

Or is it 30 days?  Maybe you’re thinking of Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days.

It doesn’t matter.  Both numbers fall a bit short for forming a true habit out of something that takes real effort in the beginning.

Scientific research into the topic tells us how long habits really take to form.

On average, it’s 66 days.

Depending on the difficulty of the habit, it might take more time (adding 50 sit-ups after morning coffee might take 84 days), it might take less (drinking a glass of water after breakfast only about 20 days). Some habits might take over 250 days.  There’s no magic number.  It really depends on how hard that particular change is for that individual to make.  Boo!  But missing a day here and there doesn’t seem to matter in the long run.

1 thing is 100% guaranteed.  If you don’t start, you’ll never change.


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