Making and Breaking Habits

I’ve often come across the idea that it takes twenty-one days to create a habit, but in my experience, it takes way longer than that, fifty days at least, which is why I resolved to blog every day for the last fifty days of 2017. And here I am, sixteen days into 2018, and still posting a blog every day. I’m to the point where, if I don’t feel like writing something, I would have to make a special mental leap not to do it.

Of course, daily blogging takes its own mental leap to continue the habit because often there simply is nothing to say. But here I sit anyway.

(Wait a minute! Back up a bit. What was that? Only sixteen days into the new year? Really? It feels like months.)

I’ve also read that it’s supposed to take twenty-one days to break a habit, though from the struggles people have with trying to give up smoking, it seems as if it could take anywhere from twenty-one days to infinity to stop. But when it comes to breaking a good habit, such as daily blogging (assuming that blogging is a good habit), it would take a single day. If I made that leap to not blog today, then it would be easy to make the same leap tomorrow, eroding the impetus, and so the habit would disappear.

Oddly, when it comes to my not eating wheat and sugar, I am already at the “mental leap” stage where I have to stop and think if I feel like a treat, though it has been but twenty days. Not that the habit is engrained enough to truly be a habit. It will take at least thirty more days for that, and even so, it will take a single day for the habit to disappear. And it will disappear when I take my Pacific coast trip — I already know that. After all, the initial idea for the trip was to make chocolate turtles in honor of my mother. And after the habit is broken, who knows how long before I will be able to cultivate the no-sugar habit again.

But that’s a problem for another day.

Oftentimes it’s impossible for me to cultivate a habit because something interferes before the habit is established. For example, I’d planned to try to lift light weights every day to strengthen my upper body and especially my wonky arm for when I go on that brief backpacking trip this May, but the thing that interferes is . . . me. I simply don’t feel like pushing myself, especially on the days I have hand pain. But we’ll see. Maybe after the fifty days of no sugar and wheat are up and they’ve become an engrained habit, I’ll look to establish the lifting-weights habit.

Or not. Sometimes I think being disciplined is highly overrated.

But for now, I’m sort of enjoying the game.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

6 Responses to “Making and Breaking Habits”

  1. Betty Rountree Says:

    Your determination is inspiring! …. especially because the ‘timing’ you speak of in making something a permanent part of a ”routine” that’s done naturally, without a lot of thought, is exactly what I’ve experienced in trying to change up my own life. I can’t say a specific number of days that it’s taken me to make something a ”routine”, but I have to continue to do any specific thing, sometimes even documenting it on a calendar continuously, until one day it dawns on me that …. “It’s been many days since I marked it on a calendar, but I’m still doing it, even though I’m not recording it or marking it on a calendar!!!!
    The most fulfilling moment is the day you realize that you are continuously repeating an action without needing to remind yourself, check your journal, or whatever method I was using to be certain I performed the action intended. It’s such a happy feeling to realize that I’m doing something as part of a natural routine, instead of checking off a chart. You just put into words what I couldn’t quite explain to myself! Happy Day! Thanks!

  2. Constance Says:

    Sometimes, being highly disciplined is not good. It can cause stress, which is bad.
    Habits take longer to break, than acquiring them.

  3. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    Breathings a habit I’ve been trying to break for yonks 😈

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