You may have heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit. This estimate comes from a book from the 1960s and was based on the author's observation, not the result of a rigorous scientific study...
You may have heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit.
This estimate comes from a book from the 1960s and was based on the author's observation, not the result of a rigorous scientific study. The book actually says that it takes at least 21 days "for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell."
For some reason, people took this observation as gospel and oversimplified it, which led to the common idea that forming a habit takes exactly 21 days. In just 21 days, you could say goodbye to junk food, start enjoying 5 a.m. workouts, and build productivity habits that will transform you into the next Elon Musk! Doesn't it sound great?
Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.
A scientific study has shown that on average, it takes 66 days for a behavior to become automatic. Yes, that's two months and a few extra days.
However, this is just an average. Forming a habit can take anywhere between 18 and a whopping 254 days (that's around 8.5 months!).
Why is there such a huge variation?
First of all, it depends on the habit. Adopting the habit of drinking a glass of water every morning is much faster – and easier – than building the habit of doing 50 sit-ups every day. If a habit doesn't require a lot of effort, your brain will be more eager to adopt it.
It also depends on the person. Some people thrive when they have a predictable routine, while others don't. This is perfectly normal.
So if you've been trying to build a habit in 21 days and it didn't work, don't judge yourself. Adopting new habits takes time, especially if you're trying to introduce dramatic changes into your routine.
Building habits is a long journey, not a three-week sprint. Fortunately, you're not alone. The Habio app is here to support you with good advice and easy habit tracking!