This week we are talking habits, so it seems like a good time to discuss the real reasons behind the length of a coaching program and why you should give yourself time to change.
Also, for those of you who have not yet picked up your FREE GIFT Fridays – Warrior Secret Weapon No.1 ~A Powerful Morning routine, go ahead and pick it up now. Take me to the Warrior Tribe for my FREE GIFT
Why IS your coaching program so long?
Many people ask me why my entry level coaching program is 90 days long. “Can’t we just do one session”, they ask, or “Can I work with you for just a month?” My answer is always the same; it took time to create the life you have now, it will take time to create a new one.
So how long does it take to create change that sticks?
The popular myth has been that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. This myth comes from a book called Psycho-Cybernetics by the plastic surgeon, Maxwell Maltz, published in 1960. In his book, Maltz shares his observation that it took approximately 21 days before his patients became comfortable with the new version of the face they were seeing in the mirror. He went on to apply this observation to himself and concluded that it took a minimum of 21 days for any new habit to form, or an old one to be broken. Here’s where things go a little wrong; the book was a blockbuster sell out and was snapped up by the self-help industry of the time which, to simplify the lesson left out the keyword “minimum”. It was an easy concept to sell; a 21-day life turnaround. The trouble is that not only was it not a scientifically proven fact, merely an observation by Maltz; it wasn’t the whole truth either.
The truth is that it takes between 18 and 254 days to change a habit!
In a 2009 study conducted by Phillipa Lally and her team, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, 96 volunteers were studied over a period of 12 weeks to understand the time frame for the creation of habits. In her paper entitled, “How are Habits Formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world”, Philippa and her team reveal that it takes an average of 66 days to create a new habit and for individuals, this could vary between 18 and 254 days. The good news is that while consistent repetition is required for the formation of a new habit, one missed opportunity does not interrupt the process!
66 days…I liked the 21-day idea!
It sounds a lot longer, 66 days. This is over two months. Which is why I remind my clients to give themselves some room. Whilst the idea of a 21-day turnaround is appealing it creates an enormous amount of pressure on oneself to achieve something that is largely unattainable. This is a dangerous game to play since it carries the risk of reinforcing negative belief patterns about failure. Truthfully the 66-day finding is a blessing; it gives us enough time to irreversibly change the habit and a higher chance of success.
How will I stick to something new for 66 days?
Since it seems a long time, I have some tips that will keep you going.
- Shout it out from the rooftops
A public commitment to a new behaviour has the effect of pushing us into an uncomfortable zone where we are afraid of letting others down. Of course, we know that the commitment is only to ourselves, yet once we go public with it, we give ourselves the extra incentive to look good in the eyes of our friends and family.
- Diarise the new habit and set a reminder in your phone
Diarising the new habit cements the commitment in the mind by telling the brain that the decision has already been made. “Skipping” it requires you to make a new decision, making it a little more likely that you will stick to the original commitment. The reminder creates the attentional awareness needed to focus on the new habit.
- Get an accountability buddy
Humans are better together and when we have the support of a friend, a coach or a community that stands for our success we find it easier to overcome the discomfort of the change required to take on a new habit. This is precisely why my coaching program is over 90 days. I stand for your success and I will not allow you to cheat yourself by taking an ineffective short-cut to nowhere. I know you are committed, and I honour that with the built-in accountability of the coaching program.
So, although 90 days seems like a long time, be rest assured that your consistency over that time will pay off and in just three short months you could have the makings of the life you dreamed of!
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