A common maxim is that it takes 30 days to form a new habit. If true, it should be fairly easy to get new behaviours to stick. After all, if you can stick with something for 30 days, supposedly you're all set after that. But is it really true? Is 30 days all it takes to form new habits and turn things around?
While there is indeed some truth to this, the reality is a little more complicated.
Numerous variables impact how quickly you form a new habit.
There's no guarantee you'll be able master a new habit or make all your desired changes successfully in just 30 days. When you consider all the variables involved with cultivating a new habit, it's not all that surprising that different situations require different amounts of time to garner results.
Consider the following:
No guarantee of mastery in 30 days.
Given all the above variables, it's obvious 30 days might not be enough to fully dislodge old habits and replace them with new ones. It's important to realize this, so as not to become discourages if you find yourself still struggling after 30 days. Needing to work on things for a longer period of time does not mean there's something wrong with you. It simply means you need to give yourself the time you need, while addressing whatever barriers are getting in your way.
With all that said, 30 days is still a good length of time to focus on at first, as it's the period where you're laying a foundation. You're essentially planting seeds and setting the stage or them to take root and grow over time. As you build on this foundation over time, your new habit gradually gets solidified.
Commit to the process rather than the end goal.
Rather than assuming a new habit can be formed within a set period of time, a healthier approach is to commit to the process itself. This strategy reduces the likelihood of being totally thrown off course by delayed results or unexpected setbacks. Committing to the process itself makes room to celebrate victories within the process itself, even if you haven't fully reached your ultimate end goal. This makes it much easier to stay motivated over the long term.
Time and effort invested gets you moving in the right direction.
If you haven't mastered your new habit within 30 days, don't assume something is wrong with you. Most importantly, don't give up! Even if it's not readily apparent at first, that initial investment of time and effort has value; it gets you moving in the right direction and brings you closer to your end goal.
Day by day, as you water those seeds that have been planted, roots are forming to anchor and nourish your continued efforts over the long term. Sure, it might take longer than 30 days to see the level of change you're hoping for, but it will be well worth it in the long run.
Tips for achieving optimal wellness, inside and out.