First off, congratulate yourself on completing ANY sort of challenge you have committed yourself to–whether that’s the 6-week Best Self Transformation Challenge or CrossFit Des Plaines’ 8-week nutrition challenge. Nonetheless, you have proved to yourself that you are capable of accomplishing a goal that you have set. So now what?
There’s research from a study by Phillippa Lally, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, that debunks the long-time myth that “it takes 21 days to build a habit.” In a 12-week study of over 90 individuals, it was found that it took somewhere between 18-254 days for a person to truly build a new habit (or behavior that had become a habit). So for some of us completing our first 6-week challenge, this is ONLY just the beginning!
From experience, my habit started when I put in the daily effort of attending the 4:30 PM class. I was sometimes dreading it during the first 1-2 years of teaching, after school activities and the daunting stack of papers I had to grade when I went home. However, I knew I had to go: for my sanity and for my “me-time”. I set an appointment with myself.
I don’t know how many days it took for me–maybe a few months–maybe a year or two–but surely enough, attending CrossFit classes became a regular behavior: a habit of mine. A similar trend started with meal prepping. It started with a daily post-workout smoothie–then it became something I began doing by habit–this one took more practice and time. I didn’t have the direct feedback with this habit as I did with my CrossFit classes. I had a lot of trial and error.
Nonetheless, whether you are trying to build a habit for health, for your profession, or your personal life, just remember that it starts with day 1, and every daily effort counts. You won’t get to the results of day 365, if you don’t continue to put in the daily efforts*. So ask yourself… now what? What’s next for you?
*Daily efforts doesn’t mean you have to DO something daily (such as exercise). This also means you can “step back” from something to build up your habit. For example, for someone wanting to lose weight, they can cut back on a sugary soda or alcoholic beverage each week; this can help build your habit of making mindful decisions about daily nutritional intake.