Sunday, October 29, 2006

A month of effort can make a change last

Philip Chard, a psychotherapist, in his "Out of My Mind" column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tells what modern research shows about how to "acquire and sustain desirable new behaviors", like exercising regularly.
Think about it. The only reason you know how to walk, talk, write, catch a baseball, cook and all the rest is because, when you were learning this stuff, you kept at it. Sure, you fell a lot, babbled, scribbled, flubbed catches, burned pork chops and so on but, for the most part, you didn't let those setbacks stop you.

How much persistence is required to instill lasting change? Not that much.

Research indicates that if you implement a new behavior and continue it for 30 consecutive days, doing it at more or less the same time daily, there is about a 90% probability it will take hold. For example, if you want to exercise regularly simply need to put your head down and push through those first 30 days of struggle and discomfort.

In other words, you have to get into the habit, and that takes a month of effort. Probably applies in reverse for breaking a bad habit. I appreciate him writing this up, but doesn't it sound like the kind of thing that everybody used to know?

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