What would you do if you were to discover a superpower, and had vision of the massive impact it would have in your life for a whole year, before you actually started using it?
This is sort of how I felt after understanding (not just learning of, big difference) of the main key to habit automation in our lives. I’ve always known the definition of a habit, but have never understood or learned how easily they can be added or removed from your life (not including those that would require the assistance of a medical professional, of course.)
But I’m mainly referring to these seemingly tiny habits that deep inside you know would have a positive impact on your life, if you were to teach your brain how to learn or get rid of them.
Up until now, I had really struggled with adding positive habits to my life. And in retrospective, knowing now what I didn’t know with certainty before, it was because I would quit too early before my brain could wire-in the change and make it (almost effortlessly) a part of my everyday life.
The core stuff
I was first exposed to this wonderful insight I’m about to share while listening to a podcast from Dr. Caroline Leaf. In it, amongst a lot of other useful information that you can find here if you do decide to try this, she shared about how it takes a minimum of 63 days to change a habit, and that most people give up by day 4. This caught my attention, but I never really did proper research on that or followed up on the statement. Maybe because I was still not prepared for change (kind of a big deal when dealing with this.)
But then I stumbled upon a similar statement, but from a different source, this time while reading the book “The 5AM Club” by Robin Sharma. In it, he shares a graphic called “The Habit Installation Protocol” which shows what he describes as the three stages that you must pass through for a habit to take root in your brain. He says that it takes a minimum of 66 days (very similar to Dr. Leaf’s insight), and splits this period into three equal parts of 22 days.
Here is his fascinating take on it, as I myself couldn’t explain it any better:
“On the coding of any new habit, you’ll move through an initial period of destruction…Keep at it and you’ll definitely move ahead into the second stage of the process, where new neural pathways are formed and the real installation begins. This is the messy middle. Finally, as you stick with your practice of making any fresh routine your normal way of being, you’ll arrive at the final—and wonderful—stage: integration.
The whole exercise takes approximately sixty-six days, according to the research data of University College London. The Spellbinder, in his teachings, calls this powerful fact The 66 Day Minimum. Sixty-six days of training to make a new habit yours.
So, don’t quit after a few days, or a few weeks, or even after two months… See, all change is hard at first. That’s why The Spellbinder named stage one ‘Destruction.’ If it wasn’t difficult at the start, it wouldn’t be real change. It’s supposed to be hard because you’re rewriting the past patterns of your mind and destroying old ways of operating. And rewiring past programs of your heart and emotions.”
Amazing, isn’t it? Although you may be wondering why I said at the beginning of this post that it would be easy to do this, if the author (and likely all others writing about this topic) mention how hard it is when you start.
Let me put it this way: if you had to take a test to pass a really important class during your studies, and you were given the exact answers beforehand, would you take the necessary steps to memorize each one of them even though it would take some time doing so, in order for you to pass the test? The answer is a no-brainer.
So why don’t we, knowing how powerful we can become by automating a new habit in us with persistency, even in the face of the inevitable adversity, build a life around positive habit-making and become better human beings? I’ll let you answer that.
But I will end this post with this thought that has helped me before during this process, and maybe it can help you too: