Time Needed to Form a Habit

How long does it take to form a habit? By study­ing 96 people as they each attempt to start a new habit, the answer comes out as between 18 to 254 days, with a mean of 66.

Some good news and caveats:

  • Miss­ing a single day did not reduce the chance of form­ing a habit.
  • A sub-group took much longer than the oth­ers to form their habits, per­haps sug­gest­ing some people are ‘habit-res­ist­ant’.

What this study reveals is that when we want to devel­op a rel­at­ively simple habit like eat­ing a piece of fruit each day or tak­ing a 10 minute walk, it could take us over two months of daily repe­ti­tions before the beha­viour becomes a habit. And, while this research sug­gests that skip­ping single days isn’t det­ri­ment­al in the long-term, it’s those early repe­ti­tions that give us the greatest boost in auto­mati­city.

I’m not sure why, but I find it inter­est­ing that there seems to be an upper lim­it on auto­mati­city.

via Mind Hacks