Most of us have heard the adage that it takes 21 days build a desired habit. And while opinions differ as to whether this is 100% scientifically factual, there is still plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that taking on a new habit for three weeks is a great way to give a different behavior or skill a trial run. Whether your goal is getting up thirty minutes earlier or swapping out soda for water, putting a few simple practices in place can help you to get -- and stay -- motivated.
Here are some tips to get you started:
One at a Time: It can be tempting to try tackling several new habits at once, but limit yourself to just one to begin with. Choosing a singular goal will keep your focus sharp rather than scattered and help you reap the most rewards from your 21 days.
Research First: Spend some time learning about your new habit, and the common barriers people face when trying to adopt it. Crafting a strategy to counter those issues when you come up against them will give your odds of success a significant boost.
Master Your Mind: Take a day or two to mentally prepare for the 21 days ahead. Either add in the activity in a small way to slowly build momentum or do the exact opposite of what you need to do in order to create a driving force for change. For example, if you’re going to cut out junk food, allow yourself free access to chips and chocolate for a few days leading up to the start of your quest. Chances are, you’ll burn out on empty calories and be ready to hit some healthier eats.
Track Your Progress: “Out of sight, out of mind” can be an unfortunate truth when it comes to a new challenge. So, it’s important to keep your goal in front of you by charting your 21 days on a large piece of paper or whiteboard hung on your wall. There are also a number of “21-day challenge” apps available for your smartphone. Being able to check off each day that’s completed and see how far you’ve come will keep you going during the tough times.
Relax!: One of the great things about a 21-day challenge is its temporary nature. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the thought of making a change, take a breath and remember that it’s not a lifetime commitment. If it turns out that this new habit isn’t a fit, feel free to drop it on day 22. No pressure...just a chance to enjoy expanding beyond your comfort zone.
Commit to a short stretch of change and watch your life improve for the long haul!