Ever heard the saying, “It takes 21 consecutive days of doing an activity for a habit to form”?
Don’t get your hopes up and waste your time trying to form a habit in three weeks. That’s a lie.
The 21-day myth was translated from a 1960s study that said 21 days was the minimum time it took to form a habit. I think people started believing it because it seemed attainable.
The truth is, according to recent studies, it takes two to eight months on average to form a habit.
Luckily for us, new technology is making it easier for us to find habits and stick to them. Don’t get discouraged if after 21 days you’re not feeling progress. As someone who’s been on a five-month streak of regularly working out, eating right and developing new language skills, it’s possible to form a habit over time and not get discouraged and quit.
Below, I share how I’ve turned each of my goals into habits.
To be honest, I couldn’t successfully form a fitness routine and stick to it until I had an end goal–and mine was (is) my wedding. But just because you don’t have a particular day in mind that you want to look your best for doesn’t mean you can’t create an attainable goal or reason for getting your fitness into shape.
Don’t give yourself outrageous starting goals like working out every day, twice a day. Instead, look for what you can achieve right now, and make the most of it. To make it simple, I make sure I don’t go more than two consecutive days without working out. If I make it to the gym, great. If I need to cut myself some slack, I throw on Netflix and set up SworkIt in front of my TV.
Make fitness a habit is difficult, because as a twenty-something, you never know what the day is going to throw at you. That’s why using a flexible schedule and giving yourself some breathing room is more successful and more motivating than restricting yourself to only working out Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00-7:00. You’ll stay on track if you let yourself be flexible, but hold yourself accountable.
For holding yourself accountable and staying on track, follow some health and fitness icons on social media. When you’re scrolling through your feed trying to be lazy, seeing posts with others’ progress definitely motivates!
For more tips on working out consistently, look here:
- Starting a New Yoga Routine
- Merging Your Fitness Habits With Social Media
- How To Find Your Fitness as a Non-Athlete
- Fun Runs For Everyone
- What You Need to Know About The Barre Fitness Craze
- How To Make Fitness Fun For You
I was determined to make eating healthy a priority to my 20s after I graduated from college, and I turned it into a habit by doing one thing: turning on my conscious. I starting noticing what foods make me feel bloated or sluggish, and cut them out or down from my diet.
The thing that made my habit stick was how much better I felt. I noticed that when I ate salads for lunch instead of heavier meals or breads, I had more energy and felt awesome through the rest of the workday. I tracked my calories on MyFitnessPal, which isn’t a strict diet plan, but rather a tool to show you what goes into your body every day and how it’s affecting your weight. It also tracks your nutrient intake, so you can see how much sugar, carbohydrates, etc. you are consuming.
Pulling new recipes from Pinterest added more variety to my dinners and made me excited to try new meals, filled with healthy proteins and vegetables like avocados, spinach and more. Pinterest also put the power of meal prepping in my hands, helping me see the benefits of packing up salads and lunches in advance. It become part of my Sunday routine, and benefits me through the whole week.
For more tips on making your health a priority:
- Busy Girl Life: Healthy and Easy Freezer Meals
- Why Improving My Health Was the Best Decision I Ever Made For Myself
- The Health Benefits of a Good Massage
- 7 Things You Should Be Doing About Your Health in Your 20s
- Busy Girl Life: How To Keep Healthy on the Go
- Why a Healthy Workspace Matters
Learning a Language
A lot of us learn foreign languages in school but either lose our touch or become interested in another language. After college, I made myself a promise that I would start learning a new language. A lot of my research says that learning a language is most effective when you’re younger, but I believe while it may be difficult to pick up on a new language in adulthood, it can be very beneficial–for traveling, for new work ventures, for the simple task of committing to learning every day.
When looking into the best way to learn a language with my busy schedule and (unfortunate) lack of focus, I stumbled across two credible platforms:
- Coffee Break Podcast, for the learners who prefer audio-only learning.
- Duolingo, for the learners who prefer interactive, short and sweet lesson learning.
I’ve found that just 10 minutes of using the Duolingo app makes me more proficient in learning a language, and I use the Coffee Talks Podcast when I know I’ll be sitting in traffic for a while or getting ready to go on a long road trip.
More on learning a new language or skills as an adult:
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Committing to just 10 or 20 minutes a day makes habit formation a billion times easier. That’s why I like having both options; I like knowing I can replace 10 minutes of wasted time staring at my phone with productive learning, and I can increase my proficiency by using time in the car–when I would have otherwise been falling asleep to crappy radio tunes.
If you need motivation to continue, why not reward yourself with a trip to that country in a few years? I’m already planning my Scandinavian adventure for 2021 after I master Norwegian!
Habits may be hard to form–and may take time–but there is nothing more rewarding than seeing yourself thrive and make progress in the midst of your crazy, unpredictable life.
What goals would you like to turn into habits?