12th September 2014

Does it really take 21 days to form a new habit?

Most of us have habits that we are trying to break or healthier ones that we are trying to establish. It’s led me to think about this ‘habit thing’ and how long it might take for an action to become part of one’s daily routine. Ok, so im not new to the practice of meditation but I am at a point where I am wanting to commit to a daily meditation practice.

The established wisdom of ’21 days’ to embed a habit is nowadays open to question (read the huffington post article sharing research on this by James Clear) and it’s clear from research that it may take a while longer; somewhere between two and eight months. One reassuring  aspect of the research is that missing the odd opportunity to undertake a new habit doesn’t affect the habit forming process. This is reassuring news.

Apart from how long it takes to form a new habit the other question that has arisen in my mind is the pressure that one should put oneself under to be disciplined in undertaking any given new habit. Gunilla Norris writes clearly on this in her book Inviting Silence. She suggests that nourishing habits such as quiet sitting are best born out of a willingness that springs from our hearts desire rather than a harsh act of disciplined willpower.

The other aspect that has become clearer to me in recent months is the importance of support from those around us who are practiced in the same habit. It’s strange but true that sitting in a room with others doing a quiet meditation has a power to it that greatly enhances ones own solitary sitting.

So there you have it; when seeking to embed a new habit…..take it slowly, take it easy if you slip up, don’t be too harsh and disciplined on yourself, and, if possible, join with others in your new venture. Who knows I might even make a habit of updating this blog regularly some time soon.

4 Comments on “Does it really take 21 days to form a new habit?

13th September 2014 at 3:23 pm

Reblogged this on Nudge Village and commented:
Habit forming stems more from motivation than a number of days, right?

Martin Summerfield
13th September 2014 at 7:59 pm

My take is that motivation is key – but I’m also aware that when this is combined with steady daily practice there is a great basis for embedding a habit 😉

14th September 2014 at 2:22 pm

Agreed! It’s the combination of the motivation and tiny daily steps. It’s taken me years to figure this out! I always wanted to take huge leaps and not do the day-to-day. But, had to get a breaking point in various parts of life to get truly motivated. Amazing how quickly things change when we focus on habits! Thanks for your article.

Martin Summerfield
14th September 2014 at 7:41 pm

It’s amazing how we sometimes need to get into a sticky situation to realise that we really need to change things…and you are so right about the tiny steps too. I sometimes look back and find it amazing how long its taken to figure all of this out – and how much more smoothly life might have gone had I had some of this insight a few decades ago!


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