I decided to give up New Years resolutions based on the idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Instead of overwhelming myself with a long list of improvements, I planned to just work on one issue a month. Wouldn’t you know it…scientific research messed up my scheme.
The idea of the 21 days to form a habit came from Psych-Cybernetics published in 1960 by plastic surgeon, Maxwell Maltz. Maltz noticed that it took his patience about 21 days to adjust to physical changes. He then experimented on himself and noted that it took him about 21 days to form a habit. He concluded that it requires “a minimum of about 21 days to change a mental image.” Over time the “minimum” and “about” were dropped from popular usage and the adage became that it takes 21 days to change a habit.
But then in 2010 University College London did a study tracking 96 people over 84 days and concluded that it took an average of 66 days for a behavior to become automatic. Sixty-six days was the average. The length of time depended on the individual and the difficulty of the change. Some people achieved their assigned behavioral change in only 18 days. Others in the study had not achieved the desired change by the end of the 84 days!
I decided my first goal Sunday (yes, it was the 3rd day of the year, I’ll work on being prompt later on). I am going to work on developing an attitude of gratitude. It’s so easy to be negative. I remembered posting a picture to complain about how cold it was last year on the first Sunday in January. So this year I am posting a new picture for the first Sunday in January and saying, “I am very grateful for a mild winter!” (I had to get this in today because I hear it’s going to get really cold this weekend).