16 Jan 2012

How long does it really take to change a habit?

Submitted by Stephen Winters
TitleHow long does it really take to change a habit?
Publication TypeWeb Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBurkeman, O
Access Year2012
Access DateJan 16, 2012
Last Update DateOct 9, 2009
Publisherguardian.co.uk
Keywordshabits, repentance
Abstract

Everyone knows that it takes 28 days to develop a new habit, or perhaps 21, or 18, depending on who you ask; anyway, the point is that it's a specific number, which makes it sound scientific and thus indisputably true. We probably owe this particular example of pop-psychology wisdom to Maxwell Maltz, the plastic surgeon who wrote the 60s bestseller Psycho-Cybernetics. He claimed to have observed that amputees took an average of only 21 days to adjust to the loss of a limb. Therefore, he reasoned – deploying the copper-bottomed logic we've come to expect from self-help – the same must be true of all big changes. And therefore it must take 21 days to change a habit, maybe, perhaps!

This is, of course, poppycock and horsefeathers, as a new study by the University College London psychologist Phillippa Lally and her colleagues helps confirm.

URLhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/10/change-your-life-habit-28-day-rule
Citation KeyctkeyGuardBurkeman28DayHabit

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