Conventional wisdom suggests that it takes about a month to form a new habit. However, new research reveals that a month isn’t long enough for most habits to form. Psyblog summarizes this article from the European Journal of Social Psychology. It appears that forming a habit might take about two months.
This group of researchers recruited 96 volunteers who chose an eating, drinking, or physical activity to carry out daily for 12 weeks. They recorded how automatic the behavior felt on a daily basis. On average, it took 66 days for the new behavior to feel automatic. Not surprisingly, simpler habits, such as drinking a daily glass of water, formed more quickly than more effortful habits, like doing 50 sit-ups before breakfast. Performing the target behavior consistently led to faster habit-forming. However, missing one day here and there did not decrease the rate of habit-forming.
My take-away from this study? If you want to form a new habit:
1) start with something simple,
2) be consistent, and don’t give up if you occasionally miss a day, and
3) be ready to work for at least two months.
Good luck, and I’d love to hear about what habit(s) you’re working on!