Are some habits harder to break than others?

does it take 21 days to break a habit

More than likely, you’ve heard it takes 21 days to develop a habit. But, where does “21 days” come from? According to James Clear’s Huffington Post article, How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science), the “21 days” number came from observations and research done by Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon in the 1950s. James goes on to state the “21 days” concept has been perverted, shortened, changed, and not quite accurate. It’s kind of like how things slightly change while playing the game of “telephone”.  You know the game, right?  It’s the one where you whisper a sentence or phrase in one person’s ear, then they in turn say what they heard into the next person’s ear.

“21 days” got me thinking about how long did it take for me to develop the habit of smoking and how long did it take to break the habit.  Did it take me “21 days” to become addicted?  What about you?  How long did it take for cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to take over “front and center” in your daily thoughts?  If you are an ex-smoker or ex-tobacco user, how long did it take you to break the habit?  I’m not asking about how long it took cravings to go away, but the actual act of quitting…

I remember as an adolescent, cigarettes made me light-headed and nauseated.  It definitely was not a pleasant experience.  I’m not sure when those feelings passed, but I’d like to think, even as a child/teen-ager (when I was a full-fledged smoker), I was smart enough not to do something that made me sick, burned my throat, and made me stink for 21 straight days.  What I do know for fact is like many other people, it did NOT take me 21 days to quit smoking.  The actual act of quitting took mere seconds, but it was everything I did that led up to the act that allowed me to quit.

So what’s the point?  It may not take 21 days to break a habit after all.  What does it really take then?  What comes to mind for me is a phrase made popular by Chet Holmes on an unrelated topic, but here it seems to fit.  He talked about getting the results you really want taking “pig-headed determination” or PHD.  So, if a person doesn’t actually need “21 days”, but what one REALLY needs is to have PHD to create and develop a habit, why not put that pig-headed determination to work in breaking the tobacco habit?

Or, any other habit for that matter?  In talking with other quitters and people who join our Member’s Club, self-determination is HUGE in the quitting process.

If you are looking to kick a smoking habit, download our free How to Quit Smoking (…even if you’ve failed miserably in the past) Action Plan today.