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30 Days to Change Your Life


Many people state that it takes 30 days to create a habit. A 1960 self-help book claimed that it takes at least 21 days to establish a behavior. A 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology claims that it may take 18 to 254 days to form a habit. The study also showed that the average behavioral change took 66 days to become ingrained in our lives.

The 2009 study states that habits may take different amounts of time to become automatic. Activities like eating more vegetables are often less demanding than adding exercise to our daily regimen. People vary as well. While forming a specific habit may be simple for one person, it may prove daunting to another. A consistent routine may be desired by one person and shunned by another.

Our brains approve of structure. Repetitive or automatic actions free our minds so we can perform other actions. Habits are difficult to break because our minds do not want to give up the methodical processes previously established. Pleasurable activities are particularly grueling to eliminate due to the dopamine released when we do something pleasing. Dopamine creates a craving that prompts us to exercise the behavior again.

The benefits involved in creating a positive habit can be far-reaching. The extended benefits of healthy habit formation are difficult to assess. Suppose you decide to begin walking every day? The initial benefits for your heart, joints, potential weight loss, etc., are easily measured. However, the extended benefits for your life expectancy, mood, relationships, and mental health are innumerable.

The same is true for work habits. Forming positive behavior such as checking your phone at specific times throughout the day will save time. The changed behavior may have an immeasurable impact on other areas of your business. The time saved may be directed toward customer service, promotion, employee morale, or all of these activities. Who knows what impact an extra 15-30 minutes a day may have on a business.

As the benefits of habit formation begin to stack up, we will find ourselves being less resistant to behavioral changes. When we feel better after walking each day, walking becomes easier to do. Once the benefits of managing our phone time more wisely become apparent, the rewards prompt us to continue the behavior. In essence, we are paying ourselves to do the right thing.

How does a 30-day challenge differ from habit formation? The 30-day challenge has become very popular and allows people to experiment with their behavior with a known end date in mind. Habit formation has a lifelong change as a goal. Each has its benefits, but a challenge may have a constructive impact, while a habit intends to create a positive impact.

It may take longer than thirty days to make the change, but a positive habit may very well change your life forever.

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