The formation of a habit takes years, and you want to change it almost in a week, but this does not happen. Sustainable change takes time and patience, that’s how our brain works: you can’t break a habit, you have to form a new one.

Dmitry Demidov” title=”Dmitry Demidov“/>

psychologist-consultant, clinical psychologist, AST-therapist

From childhood, a person forms certain habits, develops them consciously or unconsciously. After some time, a person uses his habitual behavior, most of which are habits (professional, personal, family, etc.).

One of the mechanisms offered by the professor of the University of California, Ph.D. Sean Young in his book “Habits for life. A scientific approach to habit formation. Briefly describe the mechanism, it consists of the following elements:

Stairs. It is necessary to focus on small steps towards the goal. At the same time, you need to understand that these are small incremental steps.

Community. By building a community to support the change of people with the same goals, you are more likely to achieve the desired outcome.


Importance. Understand the value of the actions you take to change. If your actions are based on values, it will be easy to understand and accept why these changes are important.

Ease. Three facilitators: managing the environment, limiting choices, or using roadmaps (planning). That is, there is no need to complicate and invent ways of change.

Neurohacking. You need to change your own actions, not just think about changes and promises to change something. The very name of the stage suggests the mechanism of the brain: changes in behavior entail changes in the work of the brain.

Fascination. That is, changes should be based on the interest of making them with a certain reinforcement (rewards).

Habit. It is necessary to constantly repeat the desired behavior (the process of creating permanent changes in the brain is called ingraining).

How long does it take for a new habit to “take root”?

Albert Shatrov

Albert Shatrov

trainer-psychotechnologist, psychologist-psychotherapist, coach, acmeologist

There is a popular belief that it takes 21 days to develop a good habit. We are talking about physical habits: drink a glass of water in the morning, do exercises, go for a run, take vitamins, etc. In fact, it takes only five days to develop a good habit.

When a person tries to introduce a habit by this method, that is, in fact, by using willpower, then after a while he gives up. Hence the idea that it is time-consuming and energy-consuming to introduce habits. In fact, the “principle of 21 days” has nothing to do with the introduction of habits, but refers to the topic of adaptation.

For more tips on how to properly form a habit, look in our previous article.

How to form the right habit.  Dealing with psychologists
How to form the right habit. Dealing with psychologists

Back in the middle of the 20th century, American plastic surgeon Maxwell Moltz noticed that his clients needed 21 days to get used to a new appearance. Moltz’s idea was then tested by NASA. A group of 20 people were given glasses with lenses that turned the image upside down. In about 21 days, all subjects adjusted to the altered reality.

There is also the “rule of 21 repetitions” which refers to the development of skills, where a skill is the ability to do something, such as driving a car or riding a bicycle. But it’s not about habits either.

Habits are not a skill or an adaptation, although there may be certain intersections. Habits are certain actions performed automatically, regularly and, as a rule, without any effort. It only takes five days to develop a good habit. The main thing is to do it using special technology. It looks something like this (let’s take the habit of drinking a glass of water after waking up as an example).

habit formula. Write the habit down as a formula: “After I wake up, I go to the kitchen and have a glass of water.”

Choose a reward. After you complete a habit-related action, you will need to reward yourself for it. For example, pat yourself, stroke your stomach, smile at yourself in the mirror, or whatever you like.


Visual-kinesthetic modeling. Imagine in the first person that you go to the kitchen, pour water into a glass and drink it, smile at yourself in the mirror.

Live rehearsal. Walk from the bed to the kitchen, pour a glass of water and drink it. Reward yourself with a smile.

observation. Track the habit for five days.

If everything is done well, the habit will be introduced. Thus, you can develop up to three habits at the same time. That is, three healthy habits every five days, or up to 18 habits per month. Some of them will not require much effort – we talked about this in a previous article.

4 Healthy Habits That Don't Take Much Effort
4 Healthy Habits That Don’t Take Much Effort

But it is worth noting that it is not the number of implemented habits that matters in itself. What matters is the quality of life they provide you.

Just imagine that you have successfully introduced three habits: drink a glass of water in the morning on an empty stomach, do exercises, and meditate. What will happen after some time? Over the months and years, your digestion and metabolism will improve, you will feel better and always be in good shape, fuss and stress will leave your life. And if there are not three such habits, but more? So close to a superhero!

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