Maxwell Maltz a plastic surgeon in the 1950s began noticing a strange pattern among his patients. He found that it would take the patient around 21 days to get used to seeing their new face. Similarly, when a patient had an arm or a leg amputated, Maltz noticed that the patient would sense a phantom limb for about 21 days before adjusting to the new situation.
Bringing that into his own life, he realized that it took him about 21 days to form a new habit. He talked about this in his self-help book Psycho-Cybernetics. In the book Maltz explained the power of self-affirmation and mental visualization and the connection between the mind and the body. It went on to sell more than 30 million copies.
Maltz’s work influenced nearly every major “self-help” professional and if you ask most people about changing habits they would tell you that it will take about 21 days to change a habit.
Recently I finished the book Younger Next Year. In this book Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, MD talk about how it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. Forming a new habit can widely vary depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.
If you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days.
This maybe disappointing to many people (including myself) but this means all those times I actually completed something for 21 days and it did not “stick” doesn’t mean I failed.
There is also grace with imperfection. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process. We can have bumps in the road and still see success.
After reading Younger Next Year I want to make a change in my life and health. I have been exercising more and eating better but I have not done this consistently.
So I am dedicating the next 66 days to intentional exercise and eating with intention and purpose.
Once January 1st arrives I will not have to worry about making New Year’s Resolutions because my habit of healthy living will already be in place.
I will no longer struggle to get up and get out to exercise, and I will be able to prepare my food for the week and be ready to eat in a healthy and intentional way.
I would like to invite you to join me in this venture.
Think about where you would like to be by January 1st. Do you want to start an exercise routine? Do you want to change the way you eat? Do you want to quite an unhealthy habit? Do you want to set the foundation for a stronger marriage? Do you want to read the Bible more or pray more?
You can transform your life, you can make changes in an average of 66 days.
Once you decide what you want to do, I invite you to let me know. Let me know how I can support you in your journey towards transformation.