Whether you measure in quantity of time required or degree of effort, everyone agrees that making substantive changes to your life is hard--very hard. How hard exactly? If you want an exact number of days, science provides an answer. One recent study found that the average amount of time it takes to form a new habit is 66 days.

Two months might not be long for some things, but if you imagine spending that amount of time white knuckling your way through your cigarette cravings or nagging yourself to get to the gym, you can immediately see that when it comes to picking up new behaviors, two months can be very long indeed.

How do you make it through those 66 days? Plenty of advice is on offer from various experts, including tips like utilizing triggers, only focusing on one change at a time, and reconceptualizing your approach to tough life changes. But if you're the type that really appreciates a step-by-step program, then new help is at hand. Blog beyondblindfold.com recently laid out a four-part plan to get you through those 66 days. Here are the basics of their approach:

1. Shout it from the rooftops

We're all human, which means we all fear embarrassment and feeling foolish. Therefore, kick off any attempt at changing your life by leveraging this need for social approval. Tell people you plans and you're less likely to go back on your commitment.

For the first 22 days, "tell your friends, family and coworkers you are on a mission. Enlist them as officers to patrol when you're slipping back into your old ways or not keeping up on your new ones. Tell them you want them to yell at you, bother you and constantly remind you," suggests the post.

2. Climb onto the couch

You don't need to shell out for the best therapist in town, but substantive change involves at least a bit of self-analysis, according to beyondblindfold, which suggests you use days 22 to 44 to really dig into and focus on your motivation for wanting to change your habits.

"This is the time to really dig deep and do some soul-searching. What do you want in life? Why are you doing this? How do you want to represent yourself?" the post explains. "Whether you're quitting a bad habit or picking up a healthier one, get to the core of why you're doing this and how it's going to affect your life."

3. Focus on the finish line

The middle of a journey is often the most dispiriting as you've left behind the excitement of setting out and are yet to reach that final leg where your final destination is in sight. Beyondblindfold recognizes this tendency for motivation to flag and suggests a remedy--giving yourself a swift kick in the pants after day 44.

"It's easy to burn out, get tired and forget why you are doing this. It's easy to revert to your old ways because, up to this point, you have yet to rid yourself of the habit. At this stage, you must find something to hold on to. Something that will that push you to that final goal," it instructs, though sadly it doesn't offer any suggestions for what that might be.

4. Celebrate yourself!

Made it to 66 days and formed a new habit? Don't forget to spend a little time patting yourself on the back for doing something truly difficult and important. The post does offer some suggestions for how to go about this step: "Throw a party, have some champagne, shout it from your Brooklyn rooftop. Make a day of it or call up your friends and have a swanky dinner party."

Think this plan might work for you? Check out the complete post for more details.

What habit do you most want to adopt... or get rid of?

Published on: Jan 19, 2015
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