i wanted to try veganism once. it was october 2017 and my friend and i said we’d commit to a month of veganism, see how it goes and decide from there if we wanted to adapt the diet indefinitely. well, my friend dropped out of the agreement a day and a half in, so i was on my own but being the last woman standing didn’t discourage me. i thought if i stuck through it for 21 days, i’d effortlessly be able to become a vegan. i was wrong.
we’ve all heard of the 21 days theory— that a habit is formed in 21 days. 21 is the perfect number because of the fast-gratification mentality we have. 3 weeks seem long enough , yet attainable. on top of that, there are countless 21 day challenges out there. it is marketed to us so often that we ended up believing in it.imagine being able to flip turn upside down your life in less than a month, who wouldn’t want that? not to be a party pooper but i’m here to let y’all know that the 21 day theory is a myth.
all lies have some truth to them though. the original idea, as explained in psycho-cybernetics, a book by the plastic surgeon maxwell maltz, was that maltz noticed that it took a minimum of 21 days for someone to get used to the way they look post plastic surgery or the way they operate after corrective surgery. he wasn’t stating a scientific fact, he was just observing what was going on around him. word spread, as it tends to and pretty soon the message got lost in translation. a minimum of 21 days just became 21 days.
i can’t tell you how many times i tried something new using the 21 day formula only for it to notwork out. i now know the reason why, but at the time, i just thought there was a problem with me. i still believed in the myth, like many of us do, despite the theory never working out for me which is proof that if enough people believe in one thing, it’s easy to get everyone else on board, regardless of how true it is.
so, how long does it actually take to form a habit?
a study conducted by phillippa lally found that it takes 66 days on average to form a new habit. now that’s just the average. i wouldn’t want to start the myth that it only takes 66 days to form a new habit. again, that is 66 days on average. y’all follow? okay. it can take up to 254 days depending on the person, according to the study by lally. doesn’t sound as appealing now does it?
i’ll keep it a buck with you, transformation takes time. i have found that instant gratification - the idea that if we are doing something right,regardless of the time we spend on it, then results need to show up almost immediately - to be an addiction. growth isn’t linear.to me, the circle of life is made up of our experiences. life lessons don’t just go away, they’re part of the cycle— we just change our perspectives on what they mean. think of maths. we start with numbers, then we learn addition and subtraction. later on, graphs and theorems are introduced. but we still use numbers, addition and subtraction in almost everything math-related because that’s the foundation. the good news? it gets easier overtime. show yourself some grace and remember that elevating takes time but it is worth the work, as with all good things.
oh, and in case you’re wondering, i did not end up becoming a vegan after all.
next time i try it though, i’ll shoot for 2 months minimum 😉.