66 days to greatness - How To Set New Habits
They say that it takes a minimum of 21 days to start getting used to a new habit. So you’re working out for the first time and you’re finding it hard? Or you started waking up at 5am to smash some goals? It takes 21 days to start getting used to a new routine. But where you’re being mislead is that those 21 days are just the START of creating good habits. See the article below to understand a little bit more about the point I’m trying to get to here.
When Dr. Maltz would perform an operation — like a nose job, for example — he found that it would take the patient about 21 days to get used to seeing their new face. Similarly, when a patient had an arm or a leg amputated, Maxwell Maltz noticed that the patient would sense a phantom limb for about 21 days before adjusting to the new situation. Maltz wrote about these experiences and said, “These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”
So how long does it actually take to instil a new habit? Is it 21 days, is it 2 months or is it 8 months?
A research was made with 96 people and each person chose one new habit for the 12 weeks and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior and how automatic the behavior felt.
Some people chose simple habits like “drinking a bottle of water with lunch.” Others chose more difficult tasks like “running for 15 minutes before dinner.” At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers analyzed the data to determine how long it took each person to go from starting a new behavior to automatically doing it.
On average it takes 2 months to set into a new behaviour and actually it’s more like 66 days. Of course behaviours and the length of time achieving these will vary from person to person.
I would like to give you some of my own personal examples where I’ve implemented this formula and it took me roughly 2 months for me to start enjoying the process.
1 - Going to the gym, I actually don't remember my first day at the gym but I know I was 16 and that’s all I remember. Years of training have meant that my behaviour was set for life and I will never stop going to the gym or find physical activities challenging. Trough this behaviour I find other challenges less challenging because I’ve already mastered the habit of walking into a gym almost daily.
2 - When I started my first business I used to wake up at 5am to work on it before I would then go to my other 2 jobs. I used to wake up super excited and motivated to continue building my brand and my website. So I found that having something to look forward to, makes it all much easier. For you “that something exciting” could be a side hustle, or it could be a cup of coffee from a place in the world you dream to travel to, or it could even be that really nice bowl of overnight oats you made last night. Make your challenges exciting by rewarding yourself with nice things (and I don’t mean go and buy yourself a ton of clothes every single day ha).
3 - I stopped waking up at 5 am for a few years until the beginning of this year when I had to prepare a kickstarter campaign which I knew would take me a few months to complete. I travel full time so my scenery would change massively but one of my challenges was to wake up at 5 am on the dark UK mornings and dedicate my first 2 hours of the morning just to my kickstarter project. I found it super hard, specially in the UK and in the fine month of January when it’s all grey and drizzly. I would make sure I got to bed by 10 pm and got my 7 hours of sleep, before I would wake up and make myself a cup of nice coffee (that was my something nice to look forward to). Then we went to Koh Samui (Thailand) where we hired an AirBnB apartment right on the beach. I would wake up at 5 am, make myself a coffee and go and sit outside on the balcony in the dark, working away while also really looking forward to the sunrise. I know you might not have a beach or an island to wake up to, but you can find things that excite you in order to make any challenge easier to manage and stick to.
You can use the 66 days to do anything you wish - a gym routine, a wake up routine, a project etc. And if you wish to dive in even deeper into the “66 day project” I would highly recommend reading a book that left me pretty speechless and I would even go to the extent of saying it changed my habits and life. It’s called the 5am club. I now wake up at 5am Mon-Sat, I do a 20 min HIIT session, followed by 20 minutes of gratitude journalling and vision setting, followed by 20 minutes of educating myself (reading, listening to a podcast, doing a course etc). If you are looking to set in a new routine which will maximise your mental and physical potential I highly recommend the book.
Some of the information I used in this blog have been extracted from this blog which I think would be a great read too. Give it a read and good luck with your 66 days to greatness.