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Developing Lasting Habits With the 21/90 Rule

Kathy Grosskurth
Posted by Kathy Grosskurth on Dec 27, 2023 3:24:52 PM

With the start of any new year, it's become many people's New Year's Resolution to lose weight, start this project, get healthier... well you get the picture. After only a couple of weeks - or even after only a few days, those good intentions are generally abandoned. Continue reading to discover how you can break this cycle and truly transform your resolutions into lasting habits.

Understanding the 21/90 Rule

An article from the online publication shares the concepts behind the 21-day rule, which puts forth the theory that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. The theory was popularized by author James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. Also known as the 21/90 rule, the "90" refers to the fact that it takes 90 days for a habit to become a permanent lifestyle change. In reality, the average time it takes for a new habit to stick is 66 days according to a 2009 study.

The article suggests using the 21/90 rule to accomplish your goals. If you generally struggle with being consistent in your actions, then the 21/90 rule may help you: By staying committed and working hard every day, you're setting yourself up to achieve your goals in a shorter period.

Start by Setting SMART Goals

Here are some helpful tips to guide you. 

Identify the goals you want to achieve - the CRITICAL first step. Ideally, your goals should contain these elements (the SMART goal model):

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-based

Commit to working towards those goals for the next 21-90 days, making a conscious effort to stay consistent and dedicated each day.

Maintaining Focus and Consistency

Keeping a daily journal will help you stay the course with your progress. Here are suggested items to help you with direction, focus, and consistency:

Each day, Write down your thoughts. Use these questions below to help guide you in your responses:

  • What has gone well for you today?
  • Where have you fallen short?
  • What can you do to work towards success for tomorrow?

Each week, synthesize your activity, amplify your successes, and plan for the following week. Use these questions below to help guide you in your responses:

  • List / celebrate progress, accomplishments, and blessings and share with others.
  • Write down what you learned
  • List your goals for the next week
  • Write down what help you need
  • Review / Preview every Saturday-Sunday

By the end of the 90 days, you should be well on your way to forming new habits, making it easier to maintain your progress.

Flexibility and Persistence in Habit Formation

It's important to note that if you struggle to maintain progress after 21 days, don't worry. The 21/90 rule should be viewed as a flexible guideline. The important thing to remember is to remain consistent and continue working towards your goal. With time, the new habit should become second nature to you!

Topics: Professional Development


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