Habits – Creating new ones, getting rid of old ones

January 15th, 2007 by Sit up a Tree

We all have habits that we’d like to be able to install.  At the same time, we have habits that we’d like to get rid of.

The trick with habits is giving them enough time to install, or allowing enough time to pass that the old habit has been uninstalled. As a general rule of thumb, you need 21 days to both install a new habit and get rid of an old one.  For example, let’s say that you want to install the habit of exercising every day.  Most people think that after a couple of days of exercising daily that the habit is installed and they can take their eye off the ball.

Not true!

No matter what habit you are trying to install, you are looking at an uphill slog for at least the first 14 days and taking your eye off the ball for this period is a mistake.  It is at this early stage that you want to be have schemes to remind you of what you want to be doing (employ the use of Post-It Notes or other people!).  During this initial period be careful about letting anything get in your way.  If one day you don’t feel like exercising this could be enough to allow you to break the habit’s install routine.  Force yourself to stick to the routine!  If you just go tot he gym for 10 minutes, you’ve done it and that will help reinforce the routine.

Same goes if you want to uninstall a habit.  You’ve gotta give it time.  Say you want to stop biting your nails, you’ve got to be really vigilant during the first three weeks that you don’t bring those nails up to your mouth in that time – you really have to catch yourself doing it because the habit (this one being a bad one) is installed so deep that it’s automatic.  Those fingers will make their way to your mouth by themselves if you don’t watch out for it!

Make the power of habits work for you!  But remember, give them time.  Don’t expect to install a habit in a few hours.  Plan on having to work at it daily for a few weeks and you’ll then notice after a while that it’s become a habit.  That’s when you can start taking your eye off the ball and relaxing a little.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

This entry was posted on Monday, January 15th, 2007 at 12:26 pm and is filed under Personal Development, Productivity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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