This is the first article of my 30-day writing challenge. The purpose of this challenge is to create a writing habit. What better way to start the challenge by writing about habit?
What is habit?
A habit is an action that is automatic.
It doesn’t require any conscious decision. You often may not even realize you did it.
Because it is a behaviour that is repeated, it shapes most of our lives.
How long does it take to build a habit?
Some say 30 days while others say 21 days. James Clear in his book ‘Automic Habits’ said the number of days doesn’t matter. It is the frequency of repeated actions that counts. The period can be shorter the more we repeat the habit-building actions in a day, or longer if that action only occurs once in a few days or weeks.
From experience, I agree that typically it will take 21 – 30 days for a habit to solidify but I recommend longer to make it really hard until it really tough to break.
Treat the 21 – 30 days timeframe like butter the moment you take it out from the refrigerator. It is hard but the moment you add heat it melts. You want your habit to be rock solid for it to stick permanently. To achieve this it is best to take conscious effort to follow through beyond Day 30.
My personal rule of thumb is to aim for at least 45 days or 6 weeks. Even though you start to feel the ‘automaticity’ of the habit after 3 weeks, do not feel tempted by letting your guard down and solely rely on the habit to take its course. Add another 3 weeks of conscious decision to strengthen it. You’ll feel the habit is deeper embedded within you.
Can we build more than one habit at a time?
Yes you can but it will be more effective if you work one habit at a time.
It is possible to build many habits at the same time provided that the habit you choose is what is known as Keystone Habit. It is a habit that enables other positive habits associated with it to develop.
For example, waking up early I considered a keystone habit. Because by doing so, you’ll have extra time in the morning to fill with another habit. You can start reading, exercising, meditating, or writing. This additional habit will form a new habit alongside waking up early.
How to start building a habit?
The best way of building a habit is to choose the one that is the easiest to implement.
Why? Because you want to set yourself to win. Small win is a win. Many small wins lead to larger win.
Waking up 30 mins early can be difficult for some people, but waking up 10 mins earlier is doable. Similarly exercising for 30 mins daily may be arduous but anyone can slot in 5 mins to exercise on a daily basis.
The most important is showing up every single day. During habit-building process, fix a time when you are going to do that habit and stick to it.