Forming Habits to Achieve Your Goals
As the weather turns colder and students return to school, many people welcome the familiarity of routine after the comparative chaos of summer. This got me thinking about the value of routines and of forming habits that help us achieve our goals. Big goals can seem daunting, but if we can get into habits that help us tackle them a little bit at a time, we can achieve great things.
So, how long does it take to form a habit?
A plastic surgeon from the 1950s named Maxwell Maltz noticed that his patients typically became accustomed to their new look in about three weeks. He published this information in a book titled Psycho-Cybernetics, and almost overnight, people began assuming there was something magical about this 21-day period.
Later, researchers from the University College London published a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology indicating that the time to form a habit varies. The study found that the average time to form a habit was closer to 66 days, but with wide variety–some forming habits in just a few weeks and others taking months to adopt a new behavior. The good news is that skipping the new behavior once in a while doesn’t destroy the habit-forming process and with perseverance, you can create habits that help you achieve the things you set your mind to.
Whether your goals are personal or professional, here’s a great little blog by Madeline Romeo that can easily be used to form all sorts of habits.
While some people naturally excel at consistency and discipline, most of us don’t. For my part, I like creating organizational systems and planning new routines, but I find following these routines to be far less fun. I visit sites like gettingthingsdone.com for inspiration, but when I try to put the methods into practice, I get mixed results. I used to beat myself up about this, but now, I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and remember that today is the first day of the rest of my life. Each day is a new beginning, and I can start forming a new routine right now if I want to.
If you’re a writer struggling to support yourself or one who isn’t making as much progress as you’d like on that novel you’ve been thinking about for years, here are a few great blogs on developing habits to help you. Entrepreneur John Rampton wrote the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Writers for Forbes. And Author Seth Godin offers some great advice to writers in his guest blog for Balboa Press. If you want to read a great book on writing, consider Stephen King’s On Writing. It is both a memoir and one of the best books on writing you’re likely to find on how to write successfully.
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