You might have read that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.
Well, there are conflicting reports on whether that’s too much or not enough time. Some studies show that it can take anywhere from 18 days to over 200 days for a habit to become automatic!
What we do know for sure is that drastically changing everything about your life isn’t feasible for most people, nor will it be sustainable in the long run. The key to success for many people is a shift in mindset from total lifestyle overhaul to making and sticking to small, but lasting changes.
Here’s how to create a good healthy habit (in 21 days, or maybe more) that will have a significant impact on your health.
Make small lifestyle changes
So what is a small change? A small goal is something achievable and gradual that you can build on over time. It’s a stepping stone to reaching your broader health goals – the little things you can start doing on a daily basis that will have huge impacts on your overall health, wellness, and fitness levels.
Some great examples include:
- Monitor your health: Wear a fitness tracker or use an app to monitor your activity
- Eat better: Maybe add greens to each meal
- Be more positive: Write down three positive things that happen to you each day
- Increase activity: Take a short 15-minute walk at lunch
- Stay hydrated: drink one extra glass of water each day
Continue until it becomes a habit (21 days or not)
To be clear, the originator of the 21 day rule, cosmetic surgeon Dr. Maxwell Maltz, states that it takes a minimum of 21 days to change a behaviour. The key here is to keep up your small changes, keep doing them every day until they become part of your routine.
And hey – 21 days is an excellent, attainable target to start with!
Celebrate your victories
Small changes lead to the small wins that keep us moving forward and continuing to improve ourselves. That’s why it’s important to celebrate your successes! Know when to celebrate by being clear about what you’re trying to achieve and by setting your milestones.
Once you’ve taken a moment to truly celebrate your success, pick yourself up and keep going. You’ve got momentum. Now think about increasing your daily goals, or even picking a new small change to focus on and add to your routine.
It’s important to remember that quick fixes and unrealistic expectations are likely to lead to poor performance and lack of follow through. Waking up and deciding to change every aspect of your life from fitness to food is unlikely to last in the long run. In reality, making small attainable changes you can stick to is more sustainable over the long term and will result in improved health!
If you’re not sure where to start or what’s an attainable goal for you, find a clinic near you and talk to a pt Health physiotherapist about how you can set achievable health, wellness, and fitness goals this year.