If there was a magic pill you could take that would allow you to automatically develop new healthy habits, would you take it?
If changing habits and being healthier was as easy as an iOS update would you just click the button and install the new software?
For most of us, habits (especially the positive, healthy ones) can be notoriously difficult to develop and maintain.
Of course, no such pill exists and you can’t just click a button so we’re left to our own hard work and determination to develop healthy habits.
Is there another way?
There’s an old adage that says it takes 21 days to create a new habit.
So, want to eat more vegetables?
Increase your vegetable intake for 21 days and voila you’re good to go.
The famous ‘21-day myth’ came about in the 1950s, thanks to Dr Maxwell Maltz, who concluded that it took a minimum of 21 days for his patients to get used to their ‘new self.’
Over the years, the ‘minimum’ part got lost in translation and self-help gurus around the world simply quoted 21 days as the magical number.
More recently, a study at University College London found that it took an average of 66 days for people to form a new habit but the length of time for any one person spanned from 18 days to 254 days.
What do these examples tell us?
Perhaps it’s that the science is lacking when it comes to giving us the simple answers that we want about developing healthy habits and that there’s a lot of individual variance.
But herein lies the key point: What does it matter?
If you truly want to develop healthy habits, you need to be in it for the long haul.
In other words, it’s less about the habit itself (acquiring a behaviour or routine that you essentially do subconsciously) and more about creating lasting lifestyle changes.
For most people to do that requires something extremely important: Motivation.
In short, motivation has to come first and the habit(s) will follow.
Often this motivation is in the form of a goal you want to achieve
You could say that habits are simply a byproduct of a person’s motivation.
In order to achieve ‘X’, I have to do ‘Y’ and with that motivation in mind (consciously or subconsciously), the healthy habits are carried out.
The good thing about motivation is it doesn’t really matter what it is:
Improve your strength, acquire a new skill or look better naked…
As long as it’s authentic and real, any motivation can carry you forward to produce healthy habits in all walks of life.
This could mean training for a sport but it could also mean setting a weight loss goal, an strength or performance goal, improving your self-esteem, having more energy or simply wanting to live longer.
If you’re looking to make a lifestyle change, first identify your personal reason WHY.
If you’re only planning on starting a new gym because you think you’re supposed to go to the gym it’s just never going to work.
So: What’s your motivation?
Find your motivation, connect it you your why and the healthy habits will follow.