Change a Habit in Just 21 Days!

Is there a habit you've always wanted to change? Have you started to make this change, but then you don't follow through with it?

Today, I will be talking about habits and how we can change them. Change is a scary word and sometimes seems daunting. However, change is the only way to make improvements in your life and get to where you want to be! If we never go through change, then we do not feel accomplished and satisfied in life.  

Creating a new habit might be easier than you think! First, pick something you would like to change. Such as a habit you would like to break or a habit you would like to create. I suggest starting small with one thing and make it attainable. For example, if you always wanted to lose 20 pounds then I would suggest making your goal to lose 5 pounds. Once you hit this goal, then you can change and add goals from there. 

How do you pick an unhealthy habit in which you would like to break or change? Usually, there is a cycle happening in your life. It might include: You wanting to change or get rid of an unhealthy habit -> You think about making this change -> You then start to make a change -> You have a set back in following through with this change -> You feel reluctant towards making the change and stop progressing towards it -> You contemplate making the change again. Most people are stuck in this type of cycle. It is important to remember IT IS OKAY TO MAKE A MISTAKE. No one is perfect and we are not asking for that. We are trying to make a change for just 21 days so that it becomes easier and second nature to us. If within those 21 days you have a set back, KEEP GOING until the 21 day period ends! This will show yourself that you can overcome setbacks in life and you are strong willed to make this change.

Why 21 days? It has been proven through research that habits are created when you repeat something daily for 21 days. This originated in the 1960's in a book, "Psycho-Cybernetics" (Purchase Book Here)  and professionals have been seeing results ever since. 

Once you have picked something to change, the next step is accountability. We are usually our own worst critic. So it is important to stop yourself from that negative talk and to have someone or something reinforcing the progress that you are making. Some ways to keep you accountable are:

  • a friend
  • family member
  • support group
  • therapist
  • phone App*
  • to-do list**

*One phone App that you might find helpful is the Habitica App 

**A passion planner will help you create your goals and stick with them along with organizing your daily to-do list. Even if you are not using a planner, it is helpful to write down what your goals are so that you follow through with them. You can create a graph or daily checklist so that you can hold yourself accountable and feel accomplished at the end of the day.

Reward yourself! When you complete the 21 days, you should plan a positive, healthy reward for yourself. An example can be booking a massage, buying a new exercise shirt, getting your nails done, planning time with an old friend, etc. Look at it as a celebration that you deserve for working hard towards your goals and your happiness!

If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed by work/school it could be a good idea to take a step back and think about one small goal you can set for yourself to get you to where you want to be. And don't forget to take baby steps if needed throughout this process. You are not in competition with anyone else and this is FOR YOU to see improvements that YOU want to make in your life. This is your time to be selfish and focus on yourself.

Have you made a change recently or created a new habit for yourself? I'd love to hear what helped you stay accountable!

 

Courtney Glashow, LCSW


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Courtney Glashow, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist practicing in Jersey City, New Jersey. She specializes in children and adolescent issues, and young adult counseling.

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