Do you have something you want to change in your life? Then do it. It takes time and focus but you can begin a new habit or break an old annoying one like drinking coffee.
No one really knows how long it takes to make or break a habit. Some say two weeks and some say 21 days.
It is quite variable since it depends on the person, their determination, their focus, and the habit in question.
Here is a biological fact about learning. When you learn something new, the brain creates new synapses or neural pathways. I call them a crevice. It is as if a new road has been laid to reach a physical destination. Once that road is established, it can be used numerous times. Over time, the more it is traveled, the easier it gets to follow, much like a well-worn habit, thus the crevice is made.
On the other hand, breaking a habit resembles tearing up that roadway so you will not reach that destination anymore or filling in the crevice. However, in the brain, that roadway is not completely demolished but now in its place there is a roadblock sign. But in a moment of desperation or a stressful situation, you can roll right over that sign and use the road again. Therefore, breaking a habit is harder than forming one, but not impossible.
Here are five steps that you can follow that I very briefly share to make or break a habit. There is no way to know if it will take you two weeks or three to accomplish your goal, but over time you can affect a change if you keep at it.
- Identify the habit – Are you a coffee drinker for example? Then you want to stop drinking coffee. Know what you are working towards clearly, before you get started. It will increase your chances of success.
- Do the research – Know what you are up against. How hard is it to stop drinking coffee? What are the resources available to assist you? If you want to be more assertive, learn the traits of an assertive person.
- Get help – This can be a behavior therapist, a friend or hire a Life Coach who can hold you accountable for what you are about to do. Therapy can also help with breaking habits as it can teach you to create an alternate way of thinking to avoid returning to old habits instead of just focusing on not doing something. Positive replacement habits might be something such as exercise or meditation.
- Prepare – Think ahead of time how you are going to consciously insert your new plan into your schedule. If you don’t want to drink coffee what decaf drink are you going to set out the night before to start you on a different pattern.
- Keep at it – If you forget one day, be sure to do it again the next day. Foster building that new pathway. The more you do something, the more it will become second nature and create a new crevice for yourself. As for breaking a habit, practice using daily affirmations where you tell yourself you can quit drinking coffee or whatever other habit you wish to conquer. Say things out loud like I love to experiment with all kinds of decaf drinks and having so much fun doing it. List the reasons why you can do it to boost your confidence too.
If you trying to make a change in your life, use the five steps listed above. Soon, you will be moving on the right track.