Monday, November 16, 2009

Changing your orientation

How do you develop a habit? Procrastination is a habit, which is developed by never following through on anything. Are lifestyle changes anything more than just an alteration of habits? How long does it take to make significant changes in areas like eating, exercise, or developing the habit of writing (yes, developing your writing craft is a habitual activity)?

There is a myth that is perpetuated by online research (basically, a Google search with the string, “how long does it take for something to become a habit”) that says that breaking a habit takes 21 days. Gretchen Rubin, at Psychology Today’s blog, The Happiness Project, had a post about this, back in October. I just ran across it.

Rubin links to an article and study that shows that developing even simple habits “could take us over two months of daily repetitions before the behaviour becomes a habit.”

Positive changes don’t happen overnight (or in 21 days). It involves a change in orientation, which is what I’ve been experiencing in my own life, given the lifestyle changes I’ve made. While the feedback I’m now receiving via self-evaluation and from others can be flattering, it was literally weeks, and even months before that occurred.

Significant changes require a mindset and a determination to do the right thing, long before a habit becomes ingrained, and often before the changes are noticed by others. Better, success in anything isn't about a lucky rabbit's foot, a talisman or amulet, weird diets, or self-help videos.

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