Have you ever failed to break a bad habit, only to give up in frustration? The problem isn’t that you’re that bad habit is too ingrained; in all likelihood, you just gave up too soon.
Researchers at University College, London, found that it takes 66 days for a new habit to form. Likewise, it takes 66 days for you to get rid of a bad habit.
Sixty six days might seem like a long time to lose a bad habit, but there are specific stages you have to go through that will make the process feel much shorter:
Days 1-10: Look inward
It’s usually pretty obvious which bad habits are causing the most problems in your life the ones that keep coming up in feedback or sparking arguments with your spouse. Once you’ve identified a habit to change, the real challenge lies in understanding your triggers. If you give it enough thought, you’ll get to the bottom of it. Maybe you keep getting tickets for speeding, and you realise that you drive too fast when you leave work in a bad mood, or maybe you snack when you’re stressed. Looking inward to explore the source of the habit you’re trying to break makes breaking that habit possible.
Days 11-40: Spread the word
Accountability is crucial in breaking bad habits. In this stage, you create an accountability network by telling everybody you can about the habit you’re trying to break, and the more vocal you are about it, the more likely people are to call you out when you slip up. Let them know that you really want them to say something.
Days 41-66: Mind your relapse triggers
As you head for the home stretch, be ready to make some mistakes. Just be on the lookout for common threads running through those mistakes. If you tend to relapse in a certain situation, you’d be smart to avoid that trigger completely until you feel that your bad habit is really extinguished. Keeping your triggers from surprising you when it feels like you’ve kicked the habit is typically the difference between success and failure this late in the process.
Day 67: Reward yourself
You should use this as a time to celebrate. Then as an opportunity to reflect and select the next habit you’re going to break!