Rule of Thumb: the magic ’21’

Whenever a new year rolls around, many of us (yours truly included) make a list of solemn resolutions which we have every intention of keeping. The resolution could be big or small, life-changing or insignificant, difficult or relatively easy. I am not certain about the rest of humanity. I can only speak for myself, and I know that my resolutions seldom last longer than New Year’s Day. One resolution I have been making at least six times a year is to exercise more. Ok…ok….I was hoping to get away with that little exaggeration. Let me rephrase it. One resolution I make at least six times a year is to EXERCISE ( ‘more’ is hardly a relevant term, since I hardly ever exercise at all).

Over the years, there have been several habits of mine which I have tried to change and improve (exercising, or the lack thereof, being one of them). Sometimes I decide I will not lose my temper quite as often. Other times, I make up my mind to speak less and think more (ah! joy! if only that was possible!) Whatever the grand intentions, I find the new improved behaviour (it never quite becomes regular enough to be termed a ‘habit’) rarely lasts more than a few days. Before I know it, some catalyst sparks off the old habit, and within no time at all, I am back to my old, stubborn ways.

One day, sitting at a desk in the library and flipping randomly through books with interesting covers and inspiring titles, I happened to read about ‘the power of habit’. I realized (with much relief) that I wasn’t the only one who had trouble changing old habits. It was….believe it or not…a UNIVERSAL phenomenon. I learned that it takes 21 days to change behaviour. TWENTY ONE DAYS !!! Who would have thought? Not a day less, not a day more. Often, most people give up at the first hurdle. Because like with anything new, the initial period of learning and growth is always the most difficult.

So whenever we decide to try out a new way of life, I guess, we need to practice it for at least twenty one days before it can slowly start becoming a habit. Worth a try,eh?

Copyright 2013 Nim Gholkar All Rights Reserved

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