Want To Change A Habit? It Takes….

I have read a LOT, of books on success and being successful in sales. One of the main things that gets repeated over and over is how you need to form successful habits. In order to do that, your habit must repeated daily for 30 straight days. After that automation will kick in and you won’t think about it anymore. It will be a…habit.  If only it were that easy.

The Research

30 days seems resonable. I have bought into that window myself. The latest research tells a different story. Dr. Philippa Lally  from Londons Global University the and her team recruited undergrads and asked them to adopt a new health-related behaviour, to be repeated once a day for the next 84 days.                           

The new behaviour had to be linked to a daily cue. Examples chosen by the participants included going for a 15 minute run before dinner; eating a piece of fruit with lunch; and doing 50 sit-ups after morning coffee. The participants also logged their progress each day, to report whether they’d performed the behaviour on the previous day, and to fill out a self-report measure of the behaviour’s atomization. Example items included ‘I do it automatically’, ‘I do it without thinking’ and ‘I’d find it hard not to do’.

Of the 82 participants who saw the study through to the end, the most common pattern of habit formation was for early repetitions of the chosen behaviour to produce the largest increases in its automation.

The average time to reach automation??  66 DAYS! Almost double when most of today’s success authors tell you.  Keep in mind this is the average…some habits came quickly,  18 days was the earliest. Not surprisingly the harder the habit the longer the automation took. The people who exercised took longer then the people who wanted to eat healthier.

What if the participants missed a day, would that effect the habit? The research says, surprisingly no. You can miss a day or two, and it didn’t matter if it happened early in the study or late in the day. It doesn’t effect the automation. 

So if you are trying to bring about a new habit that can make you a successful sales person…repeat it. Daily, for 66 or so days and then report back to me.

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