It takes about 21 days to develop a new habit. Yet most people give up on creating a positive life change after only the first few days when they experience the stress and pain that is always associated with replacing old behaviors with new ones.
New habits are much like a new pair of shoes: for the first few days, they will feel uncomfortable. But if you break them in for about three weeks, they will fit like a second skin. As human beings, we are genetically programmed to resist change and maintain a state of equilibrium. The condition, known as homeostasis, evolved naturally over time as a means by which our ancestors could survive constantly changing conditions.
The problem is that the mechanism works to keep things as they are even when more favorable possibilities exist. And that is why we have such difficulty adopting new habits and overcoming the gravitational forces that prevent us from moving to higher levels of living. But just as a rocket uses more fuel during the first few minutes after lift-off than it does over the days that follow when it will cover more than half a million miles.
Once you get past those first 21 days you will find that staying on course with a new habit will be far easier than you imagined. Take the time to study your personal habits and promise to make the necessary changes. The quality of your life will be determined in large measure by the nature of your habits. As John Dryden says, “We first make our habits and then our habits make us,” while Virginia Woolf wrote, “the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame.”
So ensure that your habits move you forward rather than hold you back. Because, “Powerful indeed is the empire of habit.”