It’s A Lie: Why 21 Days Is Not Enough To Help You Build Lasting Habits

5 Comments Posted in Personal Development

21 days habit lie

I wrote about how to create a new habit by doing something consistently for 21 days. Many people also believe that 21 days is all it takes to build a new habit.

However, I discovered that doing something for 21 days is not enough to help you build lasting habits. I had gone through a few 21 days challenges to build habits of waking up early, writing and exercising every day.

It is sad to say but none of these habits lasted for long and I am in the process of getting back into it.

Flaws Of 21 Days Challenge

One big flaw about the 21 days challenge is there is a slack in mentality/discipline after doing something for 21 days.

For the past few challenges that I did, my “habit” simply disappeared after a few days from the 21st day mark.

When you are in the challenge, it is much easier to motivate yourself to keep going and do something consistently for 21 days straight. However, the difficult thing is to maintain that attitude and keep on taking action after the 21 days.

It isn’t all negative about doing something for 21 days straight. If you want to commit to doing something and pick up a new habit, I think the 21 days challenge is a good place to start but it isn’t enough to help you build habits that will last a lifetime.

Instead of Doing Something For 21 Days … This Is What I Find That Works

Right now, I am getting back into the habit of writing, exercising and waking up early every day. However, my mentality is not “this-is-going-to-end-after-21-days”.

Undertaking the 21 days challenge gives us the impression that the 21 day mark is the end point, which leads to many people breaking off their habits after the 21 day mark.

What I find works better is focusing on executing every single day.

Instead of thinking I will do something (reading, writing, exercising, waking up early etc) only for 21 days straight. I focus on taking action for every single day.

Building habit is a lifelong thing and it makes sense to do something every single day for a lifetime if you want to build lasting habits that will help you achieve excellence in life.

How To Build Lasting Habits

I know doing something consistently for every single day of your life sounds hard and it may even seem daunting to many. However, this is what it takes to help you build real lasting habits that will make huge difference to your life.

You can make things easier for yourself too.

This is what I do:

1) Focus on executing

The first thing is to focus on taking action. Don’t think about anything else. You can forget all about results and all you need to do is to get started by taking action.

I find myself caught in trap of analysis paralysis when I focus too much on results.

It is important to know what you are working towards to. However, focusing too much on results at the early stages of your habit-building process can bring you to a standstill.

For an example;

I had tried a few times to get myself into the habit of exercising daily. However, my habit doesn’t stick. Sometimes, I find it hard to take action because I focus too much about results.

I spend so much time thinking whether the exercises are efficient enough for me to burn fat, can I mix running and resistance training together and whether it is the best exercise for me to do to build muscles.

When these questions pop out in my head, I felt there are chains that are stopping me from progressing. My mind is filled with so many thoughts that I spend so much time thinking and trapped within my thoughts instead of taking action. I simply don’t want to take action on doing an exercise that may turn out to be inefficient or will not build the most muscles in the shortest period of time. This lead to analysis paralysis.

2) 5 Minutes Rule

It is hard to think about taking action consistently for a lifetime. It is daunting and the thought overwhelms you. Focusing on the present helps. Don’t think about tomorrow or yesterday, just focus on doing something right now.

The 5 minutes rule can help you to defeat procrastination. Just pick one habit that you want to cultivate and start doing it for 5 minutes a day.

Going back to the exercising example again, I only aim to do 5 minutes of exercise per day. It is easy and simple and there is no excuse for me to skip just 5 minutes of exercise.

Exercise for 5 minutes every day may not seem much but it can help you to gather the momentum that you need to start building your habits.

3) Rule Of Thumb – Never Fail 2 Days Straight

There will be time when you get caught up in things and cause you to miss a day of taking action. Don’t take it to heart and just focus on getting back into action on the next day.

What I don’t like about the 21 days habit is that it doesn’t tolerate failure. Failing for a single day means that you will need to restart to day 1 again.

It does not motivate people to build new habits when you want to shun away from the fear of failure. It also causes others to give up if they failed once because the thought of doing everything again is painful.

Just keep in mind this rule

“I will not fail for 2 days straight.”

You will aim to perform whatever habit you want to build every day. However, there will be time when you fail but don’t let it bother you. Instead, focus on getting yourself back on track on the next day.

Conclusion

I don’t think the 21 days challenge can help me build lasting habits, but it is a good place to start. However, if you truly want to build lasting positive habits that will make huge differences to your life, make the commitment to do it every single day.

What do you think? Share with me whether the 21 days challenge has help you to build lasting habits? Tell me about your experience below.


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5 Responses to “It’s A Lie: Why 21 Days Is Not Enough To Help You Build Lasting Habits”

  1. David says:

    Hi,

    I hope you don’t mind. I had done a backlink base on your 21 days habit which I felt can be applied in trading. I believe have the end goal in mind whenever you stumble at your new habit. If it is a need I believe the choice is real and at the moment of time you are more likely to get back on your feet and make the conscious effort to perform the habit.

    Regards
    David Aw

  2. I would say that the amount of time that it takes to build a habit is different for everyone. My habits are generally established after two days. But that’s just me.
    Justin | Mazzastick´s last blog post ..The Moon Is A Death Star

  3. Javier Chua says:

    Hey Vincent,

    I agreed with you that the 21 days challenge did not work out in the end as I start to become sloppy once again. However, this time round I am trying out a 3 months plan of 90 days to work on my own timetable. I am getting my girlfriend to hold me accountable and if I did not do what I am suppose to do based on the timetable I set, I will have to face the punishment.

    Let’s see how things will work out but I do feel curious how things will be after the 3 months. haha.

    Cheers
    Javier
    Javier Chua´s last blog post ..Jim Rohn’s Lesson on Life For Us to Learn