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If you are a victim of few bad habits and have developed it for a long time, chances that you would have been searching the internet for a while to seek help. People who look up for such stuff often come across the 21 day rule or 1 month general formula which is about breaking old habits and forming new ones. However, things aren’t as simple as they would tell you. So, how long does it take to change behavior? Studies suggest that an individual can take anywhere between 18 to 254 days to break or form a habit. Why there is so much variation in time? You will get to know after you dive into the theory.
The kind of habit
First of all, it depends on the kind of habit you are trying to establish or leave. For instance, you might be among individuals who love sugary food or may have been eating junk twice a day for a few years now before you decide to leave it because it is harming your health. Turning from it to veggies will take some time and effort as compared to lowering it to one time a day and then from there to once a week and so on. If you go on leaving it completely, you might be able to keep up with it only for a few days, and soon you may be back on your routine. However, taking baby steps will help you to stick to it, and you will see progress quickly which will motivate you to stay up for more.
The payoff of bad habits
The next thing is what kind of payoff you get from your bad habit. One thing that only a few people will tell you is the fact that bad habits also give you pleasure or benefit. It might be only for a little while, but the payoff is far quicker than most of the good habits. Therefore, you find it interesting and amusing and at the same time you are encouraged to keep doing it. Thus, you need to figure out the payoff and either cut it completely or replace it with something better which will help you in leaving this habit. It is why many people say that formation of new habits is the best way to leave bad old habits.
How automatic and often it is
Another reason why the answer to how long it takes to change behavior is so diverse is this fact. Habit is generally a three-step process where it is about trigger, action, and response. You get triggered in a certain way to perform a particular action which provides you a pleasing response. So, in order to remove the habit, you need to deal with the trigger, and it is only possible if you know about the environment/place/location or whatever it is that triggers your action. If you are aware about the particular circumstances in which you perform an action, it will be pretty easy for you to leave than trying to break a bad habit that takes place unconsciously.