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No Quick Fixes: Creating New Habits Takes Time

It takes longer than you think, but it is possible!

big changes quote

Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? A 2022 poll found 37% of respondents make resolutions and another study showed two out of five set at least one goal for the year. Although intentions are good, how likely are you to stick to those resolutions? A 2023 poll found people stick to their goals for two to three months, however many don’t make it all the way through January. In fact, January 17th has been unofficially named “Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day” and the second Friday in January has been deemed “Quitters Day.”

The good news is, even if you ditched the resolution it doesn’t mean you failed and can’t achieve your goal. Despite what you may have heard, habits are not formed quickly – there is no quick fix. While there isn’t a definitive time frame, a 2009 study found it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit, while for some it took up to 254 days. It also depends on what the habit is. Things like sticking to exercise routines, eating healthy and trying to lose weight can take a lot longer than simpler changes like incorporating a new skincare routine. 

Consistency is key when creating new habits or trying to break old ones.

One way to be consistent is to build the new behavior into your daily routine. Maybe you want to get more exercise each day, but can’t make it to a gym. You can try to take a walk every day at lunch (bringing a friend helps!) or maybe you do even smaller things like parking further away at a store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Instead of focusing on the big picture of what you want to achieve, set those smaller goals and try to be as consistent as possible.  

The Bottom Line

Be realistic and don’t aim for perfection! Instead of being hard on yourself for a setback or not meeting the goal, celebrate the wins. If you went from not exercising at all to going to the gym twice a week, it’s a step in the right direction even if you didn’t meet your goal of going four days a week. Give yourself credit for what you did accomplish and slowly build on that.  

Fight Your Inner Critic

Remember, we are our own worst critics. The little voice inside your head that tells you everything that you’ve done “wrong” or “failed” at needs to be retrained. Incorporating positive self-talk can make a big difference. 

Negative self-talk typically falls into the following categories:

  • Personalizing - You blame yourself for everything (“I can’t lose weight because I’m no good at exercise”)

  • Magnifying - You ignore any positives and only focus on the negative. (“I only went to the gym once this week”)

  • Catastrophizing - You always expect the worst. (“I’ll never lose weight and I’ll be unhealthy forever.”

  • Polarizing - In your mind everything is black and white, all or nothing, or good and bad. There’s no middle ground. (“I missed the gym today, so I might as well not go for the week.)

List adapted from Healthline

You have the power to fight that inner critic one word at a time. 

  • Instead of saying “I failed” say “I’m proud that I tried”

  • Instead of saying “I’m no good at this” say “I’m learning and I am committed to getting better”

  • Instead of saying “I’ll never be able to do this” say “I have the power to make a change”

These may seem like silly things, but our mindset is very powerful when it comes to making life changes. When you empower yourself, you are more likely to succeed. 

Don’t Give Up!

So if you are at the point of giving up on your goals for the year, remember it can take almost a year to build some habits. There is nothing wrong with you if you haven’t been successful in sticking with your new routine yet. It’s like the fable says, slow and steady wins the race. 


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