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