The 21 day habit. How many times have we heard that “it takes 21 days to create a habit”? Where does that number even come from anyway? Most likely, from anecdotal observation.
What the Research Says
Here’s a research article that shares the results of a study in which “participants performed a self-chosen health-promoting dietary or activity behavior (e.g. drinking a glass of water) in response to a once-daily cue (e.g. after breakfast), and gave daily self-reports of how automatic (i.e. habitual) the behavior felt. Participants were tracked for 84 days.”
Turns out, there were very large differences between individuals. One person took 18 days to develop the habit, and another didn’t get there in the 84 days. Their best estimate for most of us is 66 days! So, don’t give up after 21 days.