They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit. That’s kind of a weird idea though, isn’t it? It doesn’t take that long to form a bad habit. And sometimes no matter how hard we try it takes us a lot longer to form a new habit.
When it comes to creative habits, how long does it really take to develop a new habit? The answer is that it depends. It depends on your mindset and it depends on how big of a change it is from what you are doing now. If it is your habit to eat a bowl of ice cream at night and you switch from regular ice cream to a low sugar frozen yogurt version, it’s probably not going to take you very long to make that new habit. Giving up ice cream altogether though or cutting out all sugar on the other hand might take a lot longer.
When we ask that question, what we really want to know is how long do we have to tough it out before it gets easier. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel where we don’t have to try so hard to do things differently or structure your day to fit in more writing time anymore? In other words, when will this new behavior of painting daily or writing a thousand words before work become automatic?
While it will be different from one person to the next and even from one habit to the next, there are a few things to keep in mind.
It’s easier to make a new habit than get rid of an old one. Whenever possible, try to replace an old habit with a new one. For example if you’re wanting to write every day, try replacing that half hour you spend reading the news over your morning coffee with 30 minutes of writing instead.
Habits will form faster if you stick to the same time and environment each day. Instead of trying to fit in sketching whenever, keep your sketchbook next to the door and schedule your art journalling time right after dinner, for example.
A constant reminder of why you’re trying to change your behavior is also helpful. Remind yourself every day that you’re writing every day so that you can finish your novel by the end of the year. Or put up a picture to remind you that you’re developing your painting skills so you can have your own show. Keep your reason why you’re changing front and center and then be prepared to stick it out. Yes it will take some time to make new habits and replace old ones. But it will be well worth it in the end.
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