Have you heard the myth that it takes approximately 21 days to change a habit? Although “The Secret” with whom I worked as a coach advocates 30 days, plus an additional 30 days “will definitely fix it.”
If changing a habit were that simple then everyone would be eating healthy, demonstrating great leadership, excellent teamwork and communication skills, exercising daily, avoiding over-indulgence on alcohol and all the other habits we’ve considered changing.
There is research and evidence that you can rewire the brain. Evolution has shown our ability to change. Years of my own coaching practice and conducting training programs has demonstrated the ability of people to learn new habits. But it takes motivation for self-awareness and conscious practice of new behaviors to make habits automatic.
The speed at which you can change and sustain a habit is based on your individual personality, physical make-up, age, environment and other systemic considerations, which are also the weak links to relapse. Particularly for your personality, it could require ongoing vigilance.
Changing a habitual emotional response, such as anger, is much more of a difficult long-term challenge than something like reducing sugar consumption and junk food. Anger and fear can significantly impact your habits and thus your ability to effectively communicate, lead and perform in the work place. Once you begin to demonstrate better habits or skills, then it takes ongoing practice to internalize it as automatic, and awareness to avoid relapse when you’re under pressure.
If you want to improve bad habits start by first knowing yourself, how you operate, and what tends to block or disrupt you. After you identify one outcome or habit, then you will reverse engineer the plan. Start by describing the specific actions you will take to achieve the outcome using small steps that can be executed daily. Determine how you will measure or evaluate your daily success and how you will hold yourself accountable to stay on track. Repeat the practices until it becomes automatic and internalized. Here are two additional articles to help:
Posted on the blog http://mycoachken.blogspot.com/2013/05/myth-of-21-days-to-change-habit.html
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