Ever since I started helping people break habits and reach goals, I have heard countless myths about how long it takes to break a habit. Here is the whole truth:
Maybe you already heard:
- It takes 21 days to break a habit
- It takes 28 days to change a habit
- It takes 7 weeks to get a new habit
Some years ago, even one of Denmark’s leading health gurus delivered a classic example of misinformation, when he claimed in an article in Berlingske Tidende, that it can take as much as 254 days to create a new habit. OUCH!... is all I have to say!
Well, what is the truth?
1. The truth is that most people have a heck of a time breaking their habits
2. The truth is that some people can break their habits in a few days
3. The truth is that other people can break their habits in a matter of weeks
4. The truth is that there are people who manage to break their habits within minutes
It’s not the number of days that matters. It’s the circumstances in your life, your attitudes about what is possible, and whether you believe in the things you have learned in life up to this point that determine how long it takes for you to break a habit.
If you think it’s difficult (because that’s your experience), part of your mind will subconsciously look for things to confirm your assumption that it will be hard. You will talk to people who share your experience, you will be half-hearted in your attempt to break your habits, because in your heart of hearts, you know that it’s difficult... and in that way, you fall victim to your own self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you dare believe that it’s easy (regardless what your experience is), and if you trust that it will be easy, you will do the same. Your mind will subconsciously look for things to confirm for you how easy it is. You will talk to people who easily changed their habits, and you will make a whole-hearted decision to break your habits, because you already know that it will happen... and in that way, you fall “victim” to your own self-fulfilling prophecy.
The next big question is, how do you break a habit quickly?
There is a great number of tools that make breaking your habits child’s play. Just ask my clients. Over the past few weeks, it has taken me just 15 to 20 minutes to change habits like:
- I get nervous before an exam
- I don’t remember what to say when I present my projects
- I have no self-discipline
- I don’t get the data entered into our internal CMS system
- I never reach the goals I have
Most people don’t break their habits because they don’t think it’s possible. They lack the tools, or else they don’t make themselves enough of a priority to spend money on it. Instead they spend money on things like vacations, clothes, concerts, and theater tickets, which can make them forget for a little while the undesirable habits they want to break... and that in and of itself may just be a habit (?)