Starting a diet, paying back bills, getting over the end of a relationship, saving money: What these things have in common is that to fulfill them all, it takes a great deal of willpower. However, once we started, we realized that none of them were that hard to reach. This difficulty we face in kicking off major projects is explained by the 21-day theory, have you heard?
The theory was formulated by the American plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz in the mid-1960s. The doctor noted that his patients took an average of 21 days to begin to notice the benefits and changes after a surgical procedure. This was because, as time went on, patients vibrated positively about the results of surgery, imagining the benefits of treatment and thus feeling more optimistic and motivated.
According to studies by Maltz, this theory applies to the most different areas of human life. In other words, after a period of 21 days it is easier to remain firm in the purpose done, whatever it may be.
“When we look at change as permanent, permanent, it can seem daunting. Enough to stop us from starting. However, if you view the change as temporary, making a deal with yourself by stating that after the 21 day period you can go back to what you used to be, the task can be made easier. In practice, the effort is exactly the same, but the chances of you sabotaging are less ?, says psychologist Margareth Alves.
21 days is the time the brain needs to interpret a new habit as an established pattern and make it automatic. In practice, this means that you no longer have to think to act in a certain way, because your body will already be on "autopilot", performing the task naturally and requiring less personal effort.
Applying the theory
Make a short list of the habits you would like to change in your life. Lose weight, quit smoking, cut back on soda, save money for home ownership, or anything else. The important thing is to put at the tip of the pencil those behaviors that you want to eliminate. When you are done, choose what you find most difficult and start with it. Do not try to apply the theory to all harmful habits at once. Slow and always.
Be aware that abstinence requires effort and certainly will not be easily overcome. When you think of giving up, remember the goal you want to achieve and the positive results it would have in your life.
Just as it works to eliminate bad habits, the 21-day theory also helps to stimulate behaviors that, although positive, you still do not practice: start exercising, reading, meditating, doing volunteer work, learning to play an instrument, Finally, any kind of cool habit you want to include in your routine.
Agree with yourself that you will do something for at least half an hour every day for 21 days. Most likely, by the end of the period, the custom will be so natural that you will not understand how you lived so many years without it.
How to Create INSTANT Habits - 21 Day Habit Myth (February 2020)