I’m sure you’ve heard the myth “It takes 21 days to form a habit” floating around, right? Well, while we’ve discovered that’s a bit of a myth and harder habits take longer to make/break, the point is perseverance and consistency.
Whether the goal is for someone with ADHD to get more organized, someone with depression to get out of bed and partake in positive activities, or someone with anxiety to incorporate relaxation practices into their life, they all have something in common. Change.
Change may come about for a variety of reasons. Maybe your life is not going how you want. Maybe your behaviors are negatively affecting your loved ones. Maybe what you’re doing is not consistent with your values.
No matter what the reason for change, here’s what goes into the process of change:
- Decide to change. That means working through ambivalence, whether it’s making a “pros and cons list” or exploring if your behaviors are consistent with your values. Do some self-reflection here: what is important to you, and is what you’re doing in your day-to-day life consistent with it?
- Set goals. Make sure these are realistic but adequately challenging. Again, focus on achieving what you value.
- Plan a course of action. Be specific. Break it down into small steps. For example, 10 minutes of yoga every morning a 5-minute guided meditation every night. Assign a specific time, if you possibly can, and stick to it.
- DO IT! Once a week, once a day, twice a day, etc. Commit yourself to sticking to your plan.
- Keep doing it! It might take more than 21 days, but eventually, it will become a habit. You might find you don’t have to remind yourself to meditate or to fill out your planner for the coming week, you just do it.
- Take note of the changes. Is it improving your life, even if only a little? Praise and reward yourself.
- Set new goals and adjust the plan. This might mean increasing from 1 meditation per day to 2, or challenging yourself with a new organizational skill or stepping out of your comfort zone into some new activities.
Some things that might help you figure out what changes you need to make to live a fulfilling life and stick to your plan: making an appointment with a counselor, getting a comprehensive psychological evaluation to figure out what really is going on, consulting with a nutritionist, joining a group (e.g. grief, mindfulness, yoga), learning meditation through on line platforms, organizing your life with things such as planners and calendars.
Change can be scary, uncomfortable, time-consuming, etc. But it can also be rewarding, pride-inducing, and life-changing.