Habits – How long does it take to form a good one?

Habits – How long does it take to form a good one?

A Good Habit. Why the habit….. comes before When the habit

Answer why you want to form that good habit in the first place, before you can determine how long it may take you. And, that answer needs to be as clear, simple and unambiguous as you can possibly make it.


There’s a very good reason for that level of clarity….. The absolute best, most successful, and longest lasting choices & decisions that we make are almost always those that we define with the highest degree of clarity, precision & detail. What do we want, and why do we want it? A good habit starts right there.


Most “reasonably astute” people, both Christians & non-Christians alike, desire their lives to be fulfilling, enjoyable and rewarded as much as possible. Numerous philosophical books, including the bible, declare that the cry of the human heart is to be loved, respected & even admired. These same books also declare that the most effective method of acquiring that love, respect & admiration is for you to give it to others in the same quantity & quality that you would like to receive it for yourself. Perhaps the best example of that is found here, in the bible:

Matt. 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (NIV)

Most people also realize that their ability to experience those virtues are linked to how they act and behave. We all know that virtue called the “Golden-Rule.” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you….. Right? Isn’t that it? A lifetime of good & godly habits can be the result for anyone who seeks to increase the unsearchable riches of their knowledge of Christ. However, consistently producing a lifestyle with that level of excellence being experienced, doesn’t just happen…… Check out these words:


“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle


It has been written: “We are what we think” (Prov. 23:7). “We create our habits and then our habits create us” Our Comfort-Zones exist & function through the habits we learn & adopt, some good…. some bad…. some destructive.


Ok, we’re focusing some attention here on forming a new habit….. So, first of all, any new habit, requires change. What kind of change do we want this new, beneficial & rewarding habit to accomplish in our life? Let’s narrow that down a little:

  1. Replacing a bad habit – Most people, including ordinary, everyday Christians, are wanting to develop a good habit, to replace a bad one. Truth is….. it’s almost impossible to just eliminate a bad habit that has already been formed and is operating within you. Therefore, think strategically about forming a new & beneficial habit, to replace the bad habit, and detail that new habit with as much clarity & precision as you possibly can.
  2. Focus on one habit at a time, or, many all at once…..What’s most effective? Well, that depends…… On the individual, and also on just how ingrained a bad habit that you want to replace, actually is. A common thread of thought about changing things in our life is to concentrate on changing the one thing that would be the most important & beneficial, compared to all the other things. Then, after successfully making that change, to move on to the next one. What’s wrong with that, you might ask? Well, for one thing, doing this “piecemeal,” one at a time, is the slowest method of making beneficial changes….. It just takes more time.

    However, if a person is sufficiently motivated, or even somewhat desperate, there is a much more effective method of forming new habits. You make a list of all the bad habits, obstacles and behavior issues that you are currently experiencing and want to change, or at least, significantly minimize from adversely influencing your enjoyment and fulfillment of life. Then, you virtually acquire the “Attitude of Christ” and attack everything that is opposing you from obtaining a lifestyle of spiritual freedom. Identify and obliterate every one of these obstacles in your life, with the help of, and through the sheer spiritual power of, Jesus the Christ, who is formidably known as the “Lion of Judah.” He never fails.

  1. What’s repetition got to do with it? There is a lot of writing about how many times you must repeat an action before it becomes a habit. Most agree that repeating an action, a thought or a behavior at least 50 times is a good beginning. Do this daily, if at all possible, or, at least several times a week. Here’s a famous phrase that reinforces that technique:

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” — Bruce Lee

I’ve researched the most effective authors & teachers of habit forming over the last 20 or so years. Perhaps the best, or certainly one of the most prolific, is James Clear, the author of “Atomic Habits.” [1]


Check out some of his wise words regarding habits:

  • You get what you repeat.
  • Habits are the compound interest of self – improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent

I highly recommend this book by James Clear as an excellent reference work on developing & maintaining highly effective and beneficial habits.


Timeframes & Habits – How Long?


A well-known professional health psychology researcher, named Phillippa Lally at University College in London, examined the habits of 96 people over a 12-week time frame. Her research study results revealed how long it can take to develop & maintain a new habit. The study showed that it can vary considerably depending upon the behavior, the individual, and the circumstances. The new habit time frame took as little as 18 days for some individuals, and others out to 254 days to form a new habit, depending upon how complicated it was.


The results of her research in this study calculated an average of 66 days for this group to form a new habit. Interestingly, that roughly coincides with how long it takes the sub-conscious mind to develop an initial “Memory Mapping” of a New Pattern of Thought, needed to form a new habit like this.


However, you’ll also notice that God, and his super-natural influence, is not, and probably cannot, be factored into this kind of study. My intention in documenting this research is to provide you a valid perspective, based on actual, scientific study, regarding any new habits that you may be challenged to develop. Further, take a look at this previous investigation:


Another well-known, but inaccurate, research study from Dr. Maxwell Maltz, stipulated that it only takes about 21 days to form a new habit. So, if you have been thinking that a new habit like this will likely only take you an average of 21 days to form, like most people think, you’d likely be making an error. There’s more to it. It’s more complicated.


The key thing here that I’d like you to focus on is not so much the time frame that it takes to form a new habit. Whether it takes you 18 days, 180 days, or a number of years doesn’t really matter because if you are to achieve success, you simply have to put in the work, either way, regardless of the time it takes you.


It’s first a choice, then a decision……..So, let this inspire you……


Don’t let yourself get bummed out because you initially thought this process would be easier, or would only take a couple of weeks. It’s supposed to take longer.


God designed your mind to function that way, on purpose. It’s normal. Once you successfully reshape your comfort-zone to maintain your lifestyle of freedom, you’ll be exceedingly glad that Jesus crafted your mind the way he did.



Habits – How Much Effort – What Kind of Attitude?

Perhaps the best, or one of the most applicable books of all that I researched on this subject of attitude was written by pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth. That book she authored is entitled, “Grit.”[1]

Her extensive research in the clinical fields of behavior psychology and her subsequent hypothesis that what really drives achievement is not genius, talent or advanced education, but a special blend of passion and long-term perseverance. She coined the term, GRIT.  She also researched numerous men & women leaders within the business world, education, sports and related vocations and discovered the identical & dominant trait that identified their success was also GRIT, way more than anything else that they could attribute to their success.


That kind of grit is what the apostle Paul is documenting here in Heb. 12:1, that I refer to over and over again throughout this program. Here it is again:


Heb. 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance** the race marked out for us. (NIV)


**  Dogged Determination

     Stubborn Endurance


GRIT – “There’s no quit in him” – “He refuses to buckle”


That’s the measure of Christ’s attitude, but on steroids, at an exponentially higher level than any of us can ever attain……! And in that context, and more to the point, Jesus is determined to develop and build a similar attitude in you. You ready for that? Will you cooperate? Will you follow him? Will you develop an attitude & sufficient faith to obey him more consistently? You’ll really be glad that you did.


Spiritual Strongholds & Habits – Good & Bad

Destructive habits and lifestyles result when we build armored structures, strongholds, and fortresses internally within us, right where we live… right where we think and make decisions. These are Spiritual-Strongholds…… Almost all destructive lifestyles can be traced back to being caused by, or being influenced by the condition of a person’s soul, mind & spirit.


These strongholds are not made of steel and concrete and they cannot be seen, but their relative strength can accurately be compared to a formidable, structural barrier that is not easily moved. These internal strongholds can influence, or govern, or even completely control our temperaments, attitudes, and behaviors.


We can learn the process of how these strongholds are formed within our minds. When we learn and understand how this process works, we can then begin to control it. When that happens, we can harness that process to produce something wonderful within our self, rather than something destructive.


Woven throughout the entirety of this program is the deliberate and intentional development of essential weapons of spiritual warfare, both offensive & defensive, needed to obliterate all of those internal strongholds…. The ones so solidly lodged within your mind that you have not yet been able to get free from.


The determined commitment you make to God & yourself, that you will tenaciously pursue increasing your knowledge of Jesus, will almost certainly end up being the most rewarding habit that you will ever form & put into operation.


[1] “Grit” – Publisher: Simon & Schuster; New York, 2016


[1] Clear, James. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.

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