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Need to Form a New Habit? 66 Days

Need to Form a New Habit? 66 DaysA lot of the change that comes about through processes like psychotherapy (or even just reading a self-help article or book and trying to put those ideas into effect in your life) requires forming new habits. Habits of thinking differently, of reacting differently, of behaving differently. And it can be a frustrating process as you wait for these changes to take effect and become more automatic, as habits do.

How long does it take to form a new habit? A week? A month? A year?

At least 2 months (or about 66 days, on average), according to the research.

Jeremy Dean over at PsyBlog the other week wrote a great entry that looked at what the research tells us about how long it takes us to form a new habit:

Although the average was 66 days, there was marked variation in how long habits took to form, anywhere from 18 days up to 254 days in the habits examined in this study. As you’d imagine, drinking a daily glass of water became automatic very quickly but doing 50 sit-ups before breakfast required more dedication (above, dotted lines). The researchers also noted that:

  • Missing a single day did not reduce the chance of forming a habit.
  • A sub-group took much longer than the others to form their habits, perhaps suggesting some people are ‘habit-resistant’.
  • Other types of habits may well take much longer.

So 66 days later, a simple habit might be in place and on automatic pilot. But as the research shows, it could as long as 8 and a half months for more complicated habits to take hold.

Read the full entry: How Long to Form a Habit?.

Need to Form a New Habit? 66 Days

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder & CEO of Psych Central. He is an author, researcher and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues -- as well as the intersection of technology and human behavior -- since 1992. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member and treasurer of the Society for Participatory Medicine. He writes regularly and extensively on mental health concerns, the intersection of technology and psychology, and advocating for greater acceptance of the importance and value of mental health in today's society. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.


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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2009). Need to Form a New Habit? 66 Days. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 16, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/need-to-form-a-new-habit-66-days/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 7 Oct 2009
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Oct 2009
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.