How to change your habits in 66 days: research

change your habits in 66 days

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Can you really change your habits in 66 days? Yes! Scientists have recognized that humans only need around 66 days to significantly change their habits and thus their lives. Get rid of lousy habits, bring on the good ones!

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It could be so easy to take control of your life and achieve your dream goals. However, we are all too happy to suffer from ‘defermentitis’, unfortunately. Not anymore! We’ll tell you how you can do it!

To everyone who likes to postpone their goals until tomorrow because it doesn’t fit, too warm or too cold or whatever: stop dreaming, but live your dream at last! Because now your ‘defermentitis’ can be fixed. We have good arguments for that. 

66 days – that sounds doable, doesn’t it? Goodbye, good old defermentitis! We break up with you! We’ll explain why research shows you can change your life in just 66 days.

The crux with the good intentions

Less smartphone, less meat and sweets, but all the more sport, healthy eating and meeting good friends. It is a nice regularity to make many good resolutions towards the end of the year – and then not to keep them. It is just too difficult for us to separate ourselves from bad habits and accept new ones. It is not that difficult. We just have to hold out exactly 66 days. From then on everything is very easy.

The principle of reward

There is a good reason why it is so difficult for us to put off our bad habits. Because our brains like to remember things that made us happy (regardless of whether these things are good or bad for us), such as the bag of chips in the evening. And so the reward system in the brain releases vigorous dopamine every time a chip bag is within reach. And we have the feeling that we have to have it. Why shouldn’t that work with an apple? Does it sound utopian? Then read on.

It is possible to use this mechanism in the brain for its own purposes. The magic word is: habit. So if we build a new habit into our life long enough, it will eventually make us happy.

How to change your habits in 66 days: a surprising study

A study has recently dealt with exactly this change in the polarity of our reward system. With a really motivating result. In the study by Philippa Lally from University College in London, 96 students with an average age of 27 should get used to a new, healthy routine for 84 days. These were routines such as eating fruit every lunchtime or doing 50 sit-ups every morning. Then the subjects should document in a diary for the next twelve weeks how easy it was for them to implement the daily routine and how the new habit felt.

When evaluating the diaries, Philippa Lally found that it took an average of 66 days for the new habit to change into flesh and blood. It was absolutely ok to have a cheat day. That did not change the result.

What can we learn from it?

The study shows that if you want to get used to doing something different every day, be it sport, a healthy diet, taking more care of your friends or whatever, you just have to force yourself to do it every day. The certainty is rewarding: it will become easier and easier over time and after 66 days you will be able to do the new routine automatically without having to pull yourself up. During this time we have trained our brains and what we previously found exhausting and which we never did is now fun for us and has become a matter of course for us.

Starting good habits is easier

Of course, one has to say: It is easier to get used to new behaviors, for example, to run more often in the evening than to get used to bad habits.

And here is the bad news for all smokers and alcohol lovers: Unfortunately, getting used to things with an addictive factor takes significantly longer than just 66 days and the relapse rate is higher. The reason: alcohol and nicotine are substances that trigger different processes in our brain than the chip bag. Unfortunately, our little 66-day trickery only helps to a limited extent.

Nevertheless, we think that the study should encourage all of us to put our good intentions and plans into practice. It only takes about two months and then the morning yoga practice or doing without the evening bar of chocolate will feel natural and familiar. And we will have the good feeling of banishing things from life that are not good for us and, moreover, incorporating new, positive aspects into our lives.