How Long Does It Take to Form a Habit?

How Long Does It Take to Form a Habit?

positive change

One of my favorite quotes of all time is: “Goals direct your future, your habits decide it.”

Having a goal gives us purpose as human beings. In order to achieve this goal, we have to form habits that positively move us in the right direction.

Otherwise, we’re all stuck on an unproductivity train heading nowhere fast.

Want to get off this train? Not to worry—I’ve got you covered. Here’s how to instill habits that lead to RESULTS.

It’s All About FREQUENCY

Did you know that four times a week is the magic number to form a new habit? If you commit to this “four times a week” rule for more than six weeks, then it’s more likely to be imprinted into your lifestyle long term.

That said, habits take time! The longer you implement something, the higher the likelihood that it will become second nature.

I mean, take brushing your teeth on a morning – do you even consider this a habit anymore? No! That’s because it’s so natural to wake up and take care of it.  

If you’re a mom of young children like I am, you’ll know that this is a LEARNED behavior. No toddler on earth wakes up in the morning and thinks about brushing their teeth—am I right? They simply learn over time. 

What does this tell us? Well, the strength of any new habit is really in how automatic it is, which ultimately comes with consistency.

Patience is Key

Ever heard the myth that it takes 21 days to form a habit? If you answered yes, then you’re not the only one.

Even so, research tells us that the time it takes to truly put in place a habit varies dramatically by the person and the habit itself. 

For this reason, don’t get discouraged if it takes you a little longer to grasp your particular habit. We’re all in this together!

And remember that the harder the habit, the longer it’ll take for it to fully develop. Have faith, be patient, and the rest will fall into place.

Create Monthly and Weekly Goals

If you want to help yourself form a habit faster, the first thing that you should do is make a list of your goals. Then make a list of habits that will enable you to achieve them!

If your goal is to lose five pounds this month, you might want to think about which habits you’ll need to put in place to ensure that this happens. Will you allocate 15 minutes of your day to a workout? Will you write down everything you eat every day to make sure that you’re on track?

The best question to ask yourself is “what are the habits that will best support your goal?” The most efficient road to success is to do all the hard thinking before you begin. You could even break up those big goals into smaller goals and then make the most practical piece of the puzzle the habits you’ll be working on to pull everything together.

Set Yourself Daily Reminders

You can also form a habit fast by reminding yourself about it DAILY.

One of the most significant periods of growth that I saw for the ladies on my national book team was during a habit challenge. The simplest, most impactful thing that we did at the beginning was to create a vision board with our goals, daily habits, weekly habits, and plans for growth – and then we printed them out and hung them EVERYWHERE.

Some women left several around the house, and some used them as their phone background. Keeping their ideas in their faces all the time meant that they were constantly focused on their growth.

I do something similar with the Artful Agenda digital planner. By making my new habits priority tasks and then snoozing them day to day, my personal accountability for my habit change is ALWAYS in mind. And do you know what? It spurs me on to victory.

Time Block for Efficiency

Another way that Artful Agenda genuinely helps me with developing new habits is with the ability to look at my day and see where I can fit in the time to work on them. I’ve found that time blocking is a great way to ensure that I have both the time and space to work on my habits.

In fact, one of my goals for my business is to have a high response rate to customer support tickets so that our users stay happy. This means that I have to block out time for this every day to make sure that nothing distracts me from the “all clear” of an empty inbox!

My best advice? Assign a color to the habits that you are trying to form and then schedule them into your calendar. You can even set them as a recurring task for best performance.

If All Else Fails, Get an Accountability Partner

It’s no secret that building new habits on the road to achieving your goal(s) can be difficult if you’re set in your ways. Having said that, with time and determination, it can be done.

If all else fails, grab an accountability partner who can help you.

For example, when I was at the start of my recent pregnancy feeling run and I was also in between two really big jobs. My friend and I discussed that one way for me to increase my energy levels and clear my head was to take a walk.

Every day, I texted her (and sometimes, via voice message, during) my walk. Otherwise, she’d keep asking me whether I’d done it until I’d do it (cue the eye rolls from me).

This taught me that sometimes you can’t do these things alone – and that’s okay! We’re all here to help each other on this planet. Just make sure that you (or your accountability partner) never lose sight of your end goal and you’ll be forming those new habits in no time.

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    Posted at 14:34h, 27 September Reply

    Can you tell me how to make the habits that I am working on be a recurring priority take or other task? I have a list of perhaps 8-10 things and to place them into each day’s list is extremely cumbersome and time consuming. Is there a way to make them “recurring” like you can calendar events?

    • Katy Allen
      Posted at 17:00h, 03 September Reply

      Hi Vicki! Yes, there is. We recently released recurring tasks, which would work perfectly for this!

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