If you asked people how long it takes to create a new habit, you will often hear that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. That’s kind of a weird idea though, isn’t it? It doesn’t take that long to form a bad habit. And sometimes no matter how hard you try it takes you a lot longer to form a new habit.

So how long does it really take to create a new habit?

The answer is that it depends. It depends on your mindset and it depends on how big of a change it is from what you are doing now. If it is your habit to eat a bowl of ice cream at night and you switch from regular ice cream to a low sugar frozen yogurt version, it’s probably not going to take you very long to make that new habit. Giving up ice cream altogether though or cutting out all sugar on the other hand might take a lot longer.

When you ask that question, what you really want to know is how long do you have to tough it out before it gets easier. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel where you don’t have to try so hard anymore? In other words, when will this new behavior become automatic?

While it will be different from one person to the next and even from one habit to the next, there are a few things to keep in mind.

It’s easier to make a new habit than get rid of an old one. Be prepared to work a lot harder to give up checking your email every 2 minutes or snacking late at night. Whenever possible, try to replace an old habit with a new one. For example, if you’re wanting to give up coffee, brew a cup of herbal tea in the morning and throughout the day when you would usually reach for your cup of Joe.

Habits will form faster if you stick to the same time and environment each day. Instead of going for a walk whenever, keep your sneakers next to the door and schedule your walk every day at 6 pm, right after dinner for example.

A constant reminder of why you’re trying to change your behavior is also helpful. Remind yourself every day that you’re exercising so your body stays strong and you can go play with the kids or grandkids in the yard. Or put up a picture to remind you that you’re making frugal habits so you can one day purchase your dream home. Keep your reason why you’re changing front and center and then be prepared to stick it out. Yes, it will take some time to make new habits and replace old ones. But it will be well worth it in the end.

Petra Monaco

Petra Monaco

The Rebels Den

Petra Monaco is a published author, coach, mom and breaks the status quo for fun. As a foster kid, she knows the challenges and excuses people make as she rewrote her own story and then worked her way through to become a Master's level therapist. However, after watching her son fight for his life due to a rare genetic disorder and three liver transplants, she now coaches creatives and multi-passionates to stop waiting for “one day” and the “perfect moments’. Petra helps you dive deeply into the heart of things in order to discover your next steps, inspires you to set up your own personal framework so you can break free from fear, doubt, and overwhelm so you can start creating the life you want now. Petra uses her personal story to inspire and motivate people into doing the work they need to do to create change because she believes that your excuses are just avoidance. You can have the cake and eat it too if you're willing to show up for it!
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