Making or breaking a habit can feel more impossible than trying to make sense of the Baby Shark phenomenon. Whether you're trying to commit to eating cleaner, or reducing your carbon footprint, or working out more often, there are many things that can get in the way of your trying to live a happier, healthier life.
One of the biggest set-backs to making or breaking habits is a piece of widely-spread and factually inaccurate information. Namely, the myth that it takes 21-days to make or break a habit.
The Myth: It Takes 21-Days to Make or Break a Habit
The truth is making or breaking a habit takes as long as it takes. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology revealed that, for most people, changing habits took anywhere between 18 days and 254 days.
(Thank you to BodyRocker @thecodycore on IG for this pic!)
The exact length of time will depend on a myriad of factors including your commitment, how deeply entrenched the habit has become in your life, and your support system. What it does not depend on is a 21 days timeframe.
So how did the 21-day myth start?
It's widely held that the myth began with simple misinterpretation. In 1960, plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz published a popular book, Psycho-Cybernetics, in which he said that it took patients 21 days to become accustomed to their new faces. Over time, this finding morphed and took on it a life of its own, becoming the amount of time it took to adjust to anything new.
So, this new year, whether you have an official resolution or are just continuing on in your efforts to be healthier and happier, remember that as long as you're staying committed to making or breaking a habit (and one doesn't usually happen without the other), it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get there. Just keep moving forward.
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