Resolutions can take three months to stick

Resolutions can take three months to stick

It’s that time to make your New Year’s resolutions for 2014 and to start putting them into action. Many people have long believed that it can take 21 days to make new habits stick. 

Experts say that this common thought may not be so true. A study from the University College London about how habits form says there may not be a perfect number, but that in reality if there was, it would be much longer than 21 days.

Led by researcher, Phillippa Lally, the study followed nearly 100 people who self-reported their healthy changes that they were trying to make habitual in their everyday lives.

It turns out that for the majority it took them nearly 66 days to make these habits second nature. Lally found that for a few people it may have been less time, but some found that it took up to 254 days.

Lally said, in a statement to TODAY Health, that this doesn’t mean that it will always take 66 days, but that it does show that it is usually going to be much longer than 21 days for habit formation.

So what are some things you can do to help those habits stick?

  1. Ensure you do the same activity at the same time and place each day until it is instinctive, suggests expert psychologist, Wendy Wood, from the University of Southern California.  
  2. Find out what prompts your bad habits and make a change from there by avoiding those triggers, recommends David Neal, an expert on habit formation, in a TODAY Health interview.
  3. Try replacing an old habit that you want to stop with a different behavior in its place. It’s easier to form a new habit than break an old one, Neal added.

And if you’re still looking to make your New Year’s resolutions, start here.

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.