Sometimes it takes as little as three seconds. In that case, it’s a matter of determined decision.
However, it’s quite hard to engineer. I’m no Tony Robbins to convince you that you can change your life with a mere snap of your fingers. Of course, you can; you can also win the lottery. But the probability really stinks.
I know a way to make a habit within 7 days
It’s simple. The key to it is repetition.
Habits are automatic or semi-automatic behaviors that are triggered by a cue. So, if you want to create a habit, come up with a good cue and intensely focus on repeating the behavior every time.
Unfortunately, many habits are not suitable for this method. If you want to meditate every morning, you obviously cannot repeat the wake up-meditation cycle many times in one week.
But only part of these habits are excluded from this technique. You can develop plenty of different habits using this method, and you can do it fast.
7 days is lightning-fast
By the way, do you know how rapid 7 days is in habit creation? The medium for developing a new habit is 66 days, and I say this applies only in case of favorable circumstances. It also means that 50% of people take more than 66 days to develop a habit. Seven days is like lightning.
A Trick for ‘Big’ Habits
To develop a habit in a week, you need to compress a lot of repetitions into your days. This excludes also many ‘big’ habits, like reading a book for 30 minutes or writing 500 words a day.
But there is a trick that overcomes this obstacle. Habits are all about triggers (I simplify, but at least in 80%). So you can train yourself in a new habit in tiny doses.
For example, every time you come into your bedroom, take a book from a bedside cabinet and read one paragraph. You can repeat such a behavior many times in a span of one week.
You will hammer this routine into your brain and, for the next week, you can try reading one page instead of one paragraph (but make sure you visit a bedroom less often or you spend more time on reading than you aimed for).
First, I employed this method to overcome my shyness.
I resolved to make eye contact and smile at every person in my direct proximity. I commute using public transport, so I meet hundreds of people every day. I repeated the routine of looking people into their eyes and smiling many times in a short time.
Second, I used this strategy to improve my fitness.
I always think about my life in term of habits, so when I had been working on weight loss, I looked for small daily opportunities to move more. I lead a sedentary lifestyle — work behind the desk and commute well over two hours a day sitting on my butt. I decided to run each set of stairs I encounter on my way. Considering the number of stairs on my commute to work, I repeated this activity about 10 times a day, sometimes much more often.
The Hidden Benefit
I didn’t implement the above habits for the speed of this method. I just did it that way, because it seemed an effective method.
What I discovered is that the habits are not only faster to develop, they are also more automatic.
Nowadays, I can’t help but light my face in a smile whenever I see an approaching human being. It’s an automatic response to a trigger.
My legs cannot help but jump to run every time I’m approaching stairs.
I no longer think about those habits. I just do them.
Just Do It
Design your habit in such a way that you can repeat it many times a day in tiny chunks.
Repeat, repeat and repeat. 66 repetitions in one week is about 10 a day. If I were you, I would aim for 37 repetitions a day. Scientists concluded that it takes a maximum of 254 days of daily repetitions to develop a habit.
37 repetitions a day will put you on the safe side of the equation.