How I Created a Habit in 21 Days

Last month, while on spring break, my fiancé and I decided that we were going to return from vacation to put our excuses aside and finally do something we’d been telling ourselves we’d do all year: wake up earlier.  It’s really quite a simple goal, but for some reason we have never been able to accomplish it consistently. We were inspired by a couple that was on vacation with us, and set a goal for ourselves to work out in the morning before the day starts. We decided that once and for all, we were going to conquer our excuses and finally create a habit.

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So I decided that I want to create a new habit… where do I even begin?

When I was in college marching band, our director would remind us daily that some of the best things you can do are the hardest to complete. He infused motivational tips into our rehearsals, and one that has stuck with me ever since is that it takes 21 days to create a habit.

I think about this quite often, but have never actually put it to the test. I’ve never kept track of how many days it takes me to feel used to something new; instead I just remind myself that it’ll take about three weeks and hunker down to get it done. Sometimes I’m successful, while other times I’m not.

There is a great article from The Huffington Post about some of the discussion behind the 21 days rule here: How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit?

I decided to finally put this “rule” to the test.

I set a goal for myself to wake up consistently at 4:30 am for 21 work days in a row, in order to complete my workout before leaving for work. (I’m not sure if my days actually count as “in a row” since I didn’t wake up at this time on weekends, but in my mind it does;).

Well, this morning was my 21st work day of waking up at 4:30 am! I am happy to have completed a full 21 days and am not going to lie, part of me thought I wouldn’t actually go through with it. I’ve told myself that I would wake up early to get this done so many times this year, only to reset my alarm when it went off, that I think my mind thought I was just messing with it again. Not this time! I finally defeated that little voice in my head that kept telling me I’d feel better if I slept in longer.

After waking up at 4:30 am for 21 days…

Getting up and moving right away has gotten significantly easier as the days have passed! Although the moment my alarm goes off is never easy, it’s always worth it. Fortunately, the time it takes me to feel fully awake in the morning has decreased from 30 minutes to 3. I’ve also noticed that I wake up earlier on weekends without an alarm. Even those Saturdays where I need to wake up between 6 or 7 feels significantly easier!

My plan is to continue waking up at this time for the remainder of the year (5 more weeks.) I’ve noticed that the work day seems much more manageable when I wake up at this time. I feel really accomplished before I even begin teaching, and that has been a game changer for me (mentally). There’s been a huge change in my attitude lately, and I 100% believe that this new habit is responsible.

As hard as it is to accept, I think that sometimes we need to ‘just do it’.

Whatever it is you’ve longed to do but haven’t found the motivation to try – just start it. It is always hardest the first time, but it gets easier the more you do it. If you’re still not sure, give it a fair shot! In the end, if it’s not making you a better version of yourself: give it up. At least you’ll know then that you aren’t missing anything and can continue on without guilt.

I am so happy to have this newly formed ‘habit’. While there are still many days where it is incredibly challenging to roll out of bed, I still do it. Having experienced the results, I know that they are worth working for. Those tough three minutes in the morning are worth the suffering for a day filled with positivity.

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