Can a habit really be formed in 21 days? Or is that old, outdated research? In today’s podcast, Annie will shed some light on the topic of habits and how long it takes to rewire the brain. Find out where this idea of developing a habit in 21 days came from and if it still holds any truth.

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Episode Links:
Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
NASA Study on Habits

Download EP:236 Transcript

How Long Does It Take To Form A Habit?

Kathy asks – I keep hearing that if you do something for 21 days it becomes a habit. My understanding is that’s incorrect and it came from some plastic surgeon in the 1920s who basically made it up. I think it’s kind of dangerous for people to rely on this.

21 Days To Form A Habit?

Maxwell Maltz, a surgeon in the 1950s observed that within about 21 days people would become used to whatever surgery he had done to them. For instance, if they got a nose job then in 21 days they reported being used to seeing their new face in the mirror.

So he said “hum, well also in my life I feel like it takes about 21 days to form a habit”. He published a book called Psycho Cybernetic. He tried to show that it requires a minimum of 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and the new one to gel.

The issues are he said a minimum of 2 to 21 days. Next, he said mental image so it wasn’t talking about habits overall. In turn the whole concept became very distorted. This idea, which was not what he said, emerged to say that it takes 21 days to form a habit.

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