A lot has been written about the 21-day process for a habit to form. The most common process that I have heard is that to form a new habit you need to do it every day, day in and day out for 21 days. During these 21 days you may miss a day here or there but not two days in a row. If you miss 2 days in a row then you need to start over. In a nutshell, this is what I have understood from the various books/articles that I have read on this topic.
There is no general consensus as to how this idea spread. Some attribute it to Maxwell Maltz, M.D who wrote a book in 1960 called “Pyscho-Cybernetics” in which he seemed to have mentioned that a minimum of 21 days are required to form a habit or something similar to that. Looks like this number was taken over by self-help gurus who promoted the idea of “habit-formation in 21 days backed by science”.
I don’t know if there was any research that was done further to prove/disprove this myth/idea. Anyhow the best way to find out is to actually try it out. I blogged earlier about the 21-day meditation. I completed only 4 days out of 21. Similarly, I have tried on a habit but never continued it for 21 days. So, I am still in the process of figuring out if this works for me. However, one thing is for sure. You don’t need 21 days to form a bad habit. I think it takes 21 days to form a good habit but maybe 1 or 2 days to form a bad one.
The only way to prove or disprove is to personally try it on. I will keep on trying and will report my success/failure as I try and fail/succeed. In the meantime here is a Ted Talk of someone who tried forming a new habit every 30 days and succeeded beyond his wildest imagination.
Here is an excerpt from Matt Cutts short Ted Talk
“So here’s one last thing I’d like to mention. I learned that when I made small, sustainable changes, things I could keep doing, they were more likely to stick. There’s nothing wrong with big, crazy challenges. In fact, they’re a ton of fun. But they’re less likely to stick.”
Thanks for reading and have a great day!