Making Habits

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Making Habits

Postby Xenops » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:41 am

I thought this article was useful; though it does mention the idea that "decisions wear you down" (I believe someone on here said that that theory was disproven?). I probably should reread "The Power of Habit", also.

How do you make new habits, in particular to language learning? :)
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Re: Making Habits

Postby DaveBee » Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:07 am

Xenops wrote: though it does mention the idea that "decisions wear you down" (I believe someone on here said that that theory was disproven?). I probably should reread "The Power of Habit", also.
I think the willpower book mentions being able to strengthen your willpower to an extent by practise. Sitting up straight was an example given. But there is a finite daily ration, and your willpower can be exhausted over the course of a day.

(My memory might be at fault here.)
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Re: Making Habits

Postby mcthulhu » Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:21 am

Seinfeld Method.
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Re: Making Habits

Postby rdearman » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:32 am

mcthulhu wrote:Seinfeld Method.

Yes, this: ... ity-secret

Also studies have shown it takes at least 66 days to create a habit. Lots of Internet blogs say 30 but that has been disproven.

EDIT: This is a great way to link a habit to another one.
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Re: Making Habits

Postby reineke » Fri Oct 19, 2018 4:15 pm

"Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon in the 1950s when he began noticing a strange pattern among his patients.

When Dr. Maltz would perform an operation — like a nose job, for example — he found that it would take the patient about 21 days to get used to seeing their new face. Similarly, when a patient had an arm or a leg amputated, Maxwell Maltz noticed that the patient would sense a phantom limb for about 21 days before adjusting to the new situation.

These experiences prompted Maltz to think about his own adjustment period to changes and new behaviors, and he noticed that it also took himself about 21 days to form a new habit. Maltz wrote about these experiences and said, “These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”

In 1960, Maltz published that quote and his other thoughts on behavior change in a book called Psycho-Cybernetics (audiobook). The book went on to become an blockbuster hit, selling more than 30 million copies.

And that’s when the problem started.

You see, in the decades that followed, Maltz’s work influenced nearly every major “self-help” professional from Zig Ziglar to Brian Tracy to Tony Robbins. And as more people recited Maltz's story — like a very long game of “Telephone” — people began to forget that he said “a minimum of about 21 days” and shortened it to, “It takes 21 days to form a new habit.”

And that’s how society started spreading the common myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit (or 30 days or some other magic number). It's remarkable how often these timelines are quoted as statistical facts. Dangerous lesson: If enough people say something enough times, then everyone else starts to believe it.

It makes sense why the “21 Days” Myth would spread. It’s easy to understand. The time frame is short enough to be inspiring, but long enough to be believable. And who wouldn’t like the idea of changing your life in just three weeks?

But the problem is that Maxwell Maltz was simply observing what was going on around him and wasn’t making a statement of fact. Furthermore, he made sure to say that this was the minimum amount of time needed to adapt to a new change.

So what’s the real answer? How long does it take to form a habit? How long does it take a break a bad habit? Is there any science to back this up? And what does all of this mean for you and me?

How Long it Really Takes to Build a New Habit
Phillippa Lally is a health psychology researcher at University College London. In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Lally and her research team decided to figure out just how long it actually takes to form a habit.

The study examined the habits of 96 people over a 12-week period. Each person chose one new habit for the 12 weeks and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior and how automatic the behavior felt.

Some people chose simple habits like “drinking a bottle of water with lunch.” Others chose more difficult tasks like “running for 15 minutes before dinner.” At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers analyzed the data to determine how long it took each person to go from starting a new behavior to automatically doing it.

The answer?

On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally's study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.

In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days..."

"Even though the study only ran for 12 weeks, the researchers were able to use the data to estimate the longer timelines (like 254 days) to form habits. Again, the exact time depends on a variety of factors and isn't nearly as important as the overall message: habits can take a long time to form."
The study: ... 2/ejsp.674

So, a single study (not "studies") and it's hard to assert that anything has been proven or disproven.
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Re: Making Habits

Postby Hashimi » Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:44 am

If it takes more than 2 months to create a new good habit, be aware that breaking a good habit can take as little as one day!

One the best resources on habits:
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Re: Making Habits

Postby Axon » Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:58 am

I think there's something to be said for the feeling of getting into a new habit, particularly with people like us who are building skills. Personally, I've noticed that I can start feeling that a habit is forming after only five days. That's because on the fifth day of doing the thing, I realize that I've made progress.

A friend of mine that I sometimes play guitar with said the same thing. If he deliberately works on the same song every day he obviously makes much more progress than if he just occasionally picks up the guitar and fiddles around. He might not create any kind of neural pathway habit in five days, but that feeling of "oh wow it's only been five days and I can already play this tough part" is extremely motivating.

If your habit is "eat half a grapefruit every morning" then you get none of that quick validation. You have to power through it because your health is only slowly improving behind the scenes and the grapefruit tastes just as bad every day.
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Re: Making Habits

Postby patrickwilken » Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:44 am

reineke wrote:So, a single study (not "studies") and it's hard to assert that anything has been proven or disproven.

I would say that's the bottom-line. You can never trust a single study in psychology (or for that matter the results of a series of studies from a single lab).
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Re: Making Habits

Postby zjones » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:01 pm

I used to be terrible at building habits, even simple ones like washing dishes, keeping my room clean or washing my face every night. It wasn't for lack of trying either, I simply failed every single new habit I tried to start.

The Power of Habit mentions that there are "key habits" that can start a chain reaction of good changes in your life. They vary from person to person, but exercising and quitting smoking are two of the most common key habits. I started exercising regularly last year, and I can report that it has changed my life.

Apart from starting with a key habit, I think that habit-building hacks can only be so helpful. Starting a new habit is pretty straightforward: start small, build it into an already existing event or routine, get an accountability partner, and pick yourself up immediately after failure. Once you know that, reading the same advice over and over again is not going to help. Instead I recommend focusing emotional side of habit building. Building habits is easier when you have sufficient desire and determination, and breaking negative habits is easier when the adverse effects are seen as untenable. Once you have the motivation, you can enter the momentum phase (where you see the good effects of the habit and are encouraged to continue, as Axon pointed out), and then the routine phase (where it becomes a part of your daily life).

For example:

  • I want to wash the dishes after each meal. Why? Because when the dishes are done, I have a clean kitchen which makes me feel good. This good feeling is at the core of almost all of my habits, and I spend time relishing it which allows my brain to attach the new habit to the good feeling. Yes, it's simple but it's powerful.
  • I want to brush my teeth every morning and night. Why? Because my teeth feel good after I brush them, and that makes me feel confident and pretty.
  • I want to do French every day. Why? Because it helps me improve, and improving is great fun and makes me feel accomplished. There are other reasons, like improving my brain's plasticity and being able to read in another language, but I don't focus on those reasons because they aren't as powerful as the dopamine-powered feelings.

If you want to build a specific habit, I think that's a good place to start. Ask yourself questions about why you want to start, what you want to accomplish with the habit, and then anchor yourself in the emotions you want to feel. Really allow yourself to relish any good feelings you get from your habit.

Edit: lots of typos
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Re: Making Habits

Postby reineke » Sun Oct 28, 2018 5:55 pm

I deleted everything Polish from my computer and other devices in order to save myself from wasting too much time on this. I have been at it since May. I am now suffering from withdrawal symptoms. That was a good bad habit. Or a bad good habit.
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