Change Your World in 66 Days

source source url go It turns out that the old maxim of forming a new habit in 30 days was wrong all along. It takes twice as long.  And some habits can take 8 times as long to change!


At a recent National Speaker’s Association meeting in Atlanta, I enjoyed a chat with John B. Molidor, PhD, a member of the board of directors. He is also the President and CEO of Michigan State University’s Flint Area Medical Education. Dressed in a bright Hawaiian shirt -and with a personality to match – John explained to me that the genesis of the original myth is found in a book called Psycho-Cybernetics, published back in 1960. Suffice it to say that the study referenced there was mis-applied to the theory of habit formation.

In truth, he said, the average time it takes to form a new habit is 66 days. Some can take as many as 254 days, depending on the complexity of the habit. That really stinks, because 30 days was do-able. Now, finding that the average is really 66 days, I’ll have to take up something that will really be worth the effort, like drinking, smoking or some form of illicit drug use. (He’s kidding, right?)

Here’s the point: if you want to change a habit, repetition is key. If the habit is easy, like eating 2 more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the time necessary for the habit to take hold is shorter. Something more complex like developing an exercise habit takes one and one-half times as long.

But we’re missing the point in looking at the number of days. The drive to create a new good habit shouldn’t depend on the number of days it takes for it to become “automatic.” The drive should come from a real desire for change, period. Whether it takes 30, 66 or 254 days for the action or activity to occur without conscious effort is meaningless. If it’s worth creating the habit, it’s worth acting upon until it becomes automatic.

So here’s your call to action. What new good habit would you like to conquer? Here’s my challenge – and my commitment – to you:

  1. Think about a new habit you’d like to incorporate into your life
  2. Send me an email or call me to let me know your plan
  3. Mark your calendar for 66 days from today
  4. On day 66, I’ll contact you to see how you’re doing

Sound reasonable? Great. Then let’s get on this and make something happen for the good. For your good!

Additional source: European Journal of Social Psychology, 40(6), 998-1009
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