In my hypnotherapy training, we learned that our habits become so deeply ingrained in us they become integrated into our subconscious mind. Which is why it can feel so challenging sometimes to break those habits that don’t serve us, and cultivate those that do.
But the good news is, it is possible!
I’ve heard it said that it takes 40 days to create a habit, but recent research conducted at University College London examined the newly cultivated habits of 96 people over the course of a 12 week period of time, and found that the average time it takes for a new habit to take root is actually 66 days; but individual times ranged from 18 to as many as 254 days.
The takeaway message here is, don’t be surprised if it takes at least two months, or more, to change a deeply ingrained behavior.
With that said, it can also happen in an instant. There’s a lot to be said about that defining moment of choice.
Here are three other things to consider:
1. Find a Replacement Behavior
To make real change stick, replace that old behavior — as automatic and even compulsive as it may have been — with something else. In the space that’s created by what you’re giving up, fill it with a new behavior, a new way of being that serves you better.
“It’s much easier to start doing something new than to stop doing something habitual without a replacement behavior,” says neuroscientist Elliot Berkman.
2. Focus on Your Values
When considering the habits from which you are ready to be free, and the habits you are ready to embody, get clear on who you are and who you will be on the other side. When you have a strong enough WHY, you can handle almost any HOW. What’s your ultimate motivation for making this change?
Berkman also says, ”People who want to kick their habit for reasons that are aligned with their personal values will change their behavior faster than people who are doing it for external reasons such as pressure from others.”
3. Feel the Momentum Build
When we begin replacing negative habits with more positive ones, we see our lives shift on an energetic level. And with one move in a healthy, positive direction, that energy builds, inviting us to make other new choices about our way of being in our lives. This creates a momentum that can help propel our lives forward in the direction in which we wish to go. Without such a conscious intention our lives still move forward, but without the same promise of rewards, without the same proof that our thoughts create our very experience. Whether we choose to create consciously or unconsciously, our lives will play out exactly as our deepest, most underlying thoughts create.
4. Always Remember You Have a Choice
If you want your life to be different, if you want to experience yourself and your world differently, you must write the script from a place of conscious creation. This means owning your power to have an effect on the outcome of your life. Working with a life coach can help us navigate our way through the inevitable roadblocks, the temptations to slide back into the familiar, the tendency to succumb to feelings of powerlessness.
Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, they become your destiny.
For more inspiration on this topic, listen to my podcast, episode #5, How to make or break any habit with effortless ease.
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