Transforming an action into a habit, in how long?

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Robert Maurer

Transforming an action into a habit, in how long?

How can we turn action into habit? How long does it take for it to become natural?

Last update: February 18, 2022

How can we turn action into habit? How long does it take for it to become natural? Can any action become a habit with practice? In this article, we will clear up your doubts about it

We all want to acquire habits that allow us to lead a healthier life, such as quitting smoking, eating healthily, exercising regularly, and so on. But what happens during the attempts? In many cases, we lose motivation within days and stop trying. In this way, it becomes impossible to transform an action into a habit.

Creating a habit takes effort. It requires our body or our rhythms to adapt to the new, hitherto unknown routine. The necessary elements to create a habit are constancy and perseverance. It will be precisely these characteristics that oppose the temptation to abandon the company. 

When we manage to integrate an action into our routine, it becomes easier to do it and carry it out in a more natural way. The first step is therefore to define the objectives: if it is something we want and for which we feel motivated, the first step will be much easier to take.

The difference between what is possible and what is impossible lies in determination.

-Tommy Lasorda-

How long does it take to turn an action into a habit?

In 1960, plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz defined the duration of 21 days to create a habit. Later it was observed that the neurons are not able to fully assimilate a new behavior in this period of time and that after only 21 days of activity we run the risk of leaving the company prematurely.

Brain plasticity has shown that the brain is a moldable sponge, and that our brain map is continually reconfiguring.

-Patricia Ramìrez-

Thanks to subsequent studies conducted at University College London it was found that it takes an average of 66 days to transform an action into a habit and keep it. It has also been found that stopping this routine for one day does not defeat the long-term goal.

Initially creating a habit requires constant / regular practice, so that some processes become automatic and require less effort to complete.

The duration of the training varies according to the attitude we want to acquire and how familiar the action is. An entirely new action that is particularly unrelated to our daily life may require a longer period of adaptation than expected.

What are the elements necessary to maintain a habit?

The first thing to do is to create an action plan with short, medium and long term goals to avoid abandoning the company at the first obstacle and to stimulate us to continue to pursue our goal.

The plan must also include the definition of the time of day when we will perform the action sought. Well-defined and organized programs make it easier to follow them.

Why do we want to acquire that habit? Designing our future thinking about the advantages offered by the new action makes us keep the motivation and the dream that at first stimulated us to make a decision. Having these goals in mind also makes daily training easier.

Let's not be defeated by procrastination, that is let us not postpone what we can start today until tomorrow. The sooner we start, the sooner we will get what we want. Creating a habit requires discipline and perseverance, which we can draw on if we really want to achieve the goal and if we feel motivated to achieve what we can. Now away, straight to the goal!

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