Consistency is the key to creating new habits. Furthermore, how long does it really take to form a new habit, one that sticks? Moreover, creating healthy and helpful habits is a popular topic and one I focus on in my book, Creating Healthy Life Habits. However, it appears no one is really absolutely sure how long it will take. A common time frame we often read is between 21 and 30 days minimum. However, the latest research says longer, and Maxwell Maltz, in his book Psycho-Cybernetics, endorses this. Ultimately, because we are all different, the length of time varies. It also depends upon your level of commitment and desire. The question, therefore, is how can we stick with our behaviour long enough to make it a habit?
NASA did a fascinating experiment that showcases the importance of consistency
Let’s now look at a fascinating study by NASA which illustrates this principle clearly. In the early days of the space program, NASA designed an experiment to determine the psychological and physiological effects on astronauts. How exactly would the spatial disorientation they experience in the weightless environment of space affect them?
NASA was keen to discover if there would be any unexpected negative consequences that could put them and their mission in danger. Would they blackout? Above all, if they did, would they still be able to function? Would they experience a psychological effect that would leave them incapacitated?
The goggles turned their world upside down
Each astronaut was equipped with a pair of convex goggles. These goggles literally turned their world upside down as their entire field of vision was flipped 180 degrees. Next, all the astronauts were instructed to wear the goggles for 24 hours a day, even while sleeping.
At first, as you can imagine, the astronauts experienced physical symptoms of anxiety and stress. Blood pressure rises, respiration and other physical signs appear. However, over time adaptations turn into their new reality. On day 26, an amazing event occurred.
One of the astronauts saw the world the right side up, even though he was wearing goggles 24 hours a day.
And then something amazing happened at day 26 related to consistency
Between day 26 and 30, the exact same thing happened for each of the remaining astronauts.
Our brains can adapt and grow new brain cells. In this instance, the astronauts brain’s grew new cells confirming the concept of neuroplasticity. The consistency created neural pathways that literally ‘rewired’ their brains. This led them to see the world normally again.
What was even more astonishing was the results of a second experiment. This time, they made a slight change. Some astronauts were instructed to remove their goggles for a short period of time partway through the experiment, before putting them back on. On the 30th day, their world was still upside down, but when they continued on, at 26- 30 consecutive days wearing the goggles, uninterrupted, everything was suddenly the right side up.
Consistency is the ingredient to create new neural connections
The scientists concluded that the brain requires approximately 30 uninterrupted days for new neural connections to form, and to form new habits.
If you apply this to your life, for you to be successful in embracing a new behaviour and turning it into a lasting habit, you must find a way to stick with it. Moreover, you must fall in love with the value of consistency. Even then, it may take longer than a 30-day challenge for you to lock the habit in, especially if you forget to stick with it every single day. Indeed, the latest neuroscience research from Dr Caroline Leaf, suggests a minimum of 66 days is required to truly lock in a new habit. Furthermore, you may need to commit to more than one round of 66 days.
In addition, persistence and kindness are vital to help lock in anew behaviour until it becomes a habit. Furthermore, when you are kind yet persistent, you have a far higher chance of turning your behaviours into a lasting habit. However, this is where many people fall down. To stick to something new takes a conscious effort, will and energy. Furthermore, intentional thought, purposeful action and repetition.You also need consistency to help build belief in yourself and to prove that you can stick with it. Moreover, to overcome that syndrome, of not doing the things we know we should, we need to have strong discipline.
Hard work is another ingredient necessary to create great results
It’s normal for us to prefer to feel comfortable. However, change involves becoming uncomfortable. This means we must commit to sameness and repetition which takes discipline and consistency. Furthermore, we must work hard which goes against our innate hard-wiring to motivate ourselves towards pleasure and away from pain. Consequently, finding a way to keep yourself plugged into your long-term vision to stick with your new habit is key. This is where focusing on creating a champion mindset comes in.
The longer you stick with your behaviour, the easier it becomes. Furthermore, by around ninety to one hundred and twenty-days, research shows it has become almost natural. Almost as if it was part of who you are and how you live your life. As youngsters we need reminding of things like brushing our teeth. Our well meaning parents remind us frequently so this becomes a natural habit. Now, I don’t know about you, but I would never go to bed or start my day without brushing my teeth. It might even become one of your critical keystone habits.
The more you embrace consistency the more normal your behaviour becomes
A second key to help you create a new habit is to start small. Pick one thing and add it to something you already do. This avoids overwhelming and feeling as if you have too many things to do. Ultimately make it a daily ritual and consistency your new best friend. If you exercise for only ten minutes four times a week, it will gradually become a natural more enjoyable habit. Once you have made it a natural habit, then you can increase the time and or frequency that you exercise. A third step is to embrace the proven technique of visualisation, mental rehearsal.
Imagine what you can create in a year if you pick one small habit a month and stick with it, and you make consistency your friend? You will have created twelve new habits by the end of the year. This consistency word might just be the very thing to transform your results and your life? All you have to do is make a decision, create a winning plan for your new habits and get started.
About the Author
Mandy Napier is a Global High Performance Mindset Coach who is dedicated to supporting high achievers fulfil their potential and achieve extraordinary results professionally and personally. Transformations are the norm, and results guaranteed.
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