People cite different figures when discussing how many days it takes to develop a new habit. Some claim 21 days while other research shows the figure to be more like 66 days. Your mileage may vary.
Regardless of how many days it takes, the purpose of this post is to reassure you that developing new habits can be done with diligent effort over time. It isn’t easy, especially when the habit we are trying to form competes with the little red guy holding a pitchfork on one shoulder who constantly tells us to do what is easier, feels better, brings more pleasure, etc.
On June 4, my company began a 100 Day Dash campaign to get employees to increase the number of steps we take daily. We’ve already taken over 2 billion steps on our cumulative goal to at least 5 billion by the end of the 100 days.
In a June 26 post I shared my goal to go from my then-current weight of 159 pounds down to 150. I’ve had to change a few habits since then in order to move in the right direction. For example,
- the peanut butter ice cream in the freezer continues to sit there;
- I’ve eaten no fast food since then;
- my portion sizes have shrunk considerably;
- my choice of foods is healthier;
- I continue to get in at least 15,000 steps per day (about 7.5 miles).
It was not easy going to one of my favorite burger joints with my work team yesterday and ordering a salad to go so that my meal could be half a salad, saving the other half for later. It is not easy walking past a great fish restaurant a block from my house whenever I walk my dog, smelling the great aromas, without returning after the walk. But with only 1-2 pounds left to reach my goal, it is the reward of reaching the goal (and staying there once achieved) that overrides previously strong impulses.
The Dash has only been going on for five weeks and my goal was only set two weeks ago, but I already sense the growth of new habits with better rewards. I promise to succeed.
Leap year lesson #194 is You can develop new habits if you try.