I woke up early again today without help from Ethan or my alarm clock! It’s been longer than that magic “21 days to form or break a habit” thing, so I thought maybe that’s what it is: A new habit.
My friend google helped me learn the original study said it takes a "minimum" of 21 days to form a new habit. The author goes on to say a research study in 2009 found it actually takes between 18-256 days; the average habit forming length is 66 days. That doesn’t quite have the fun, zippy ring to it as “21 days” does!
I would think the results or "fruit" from the experience would have an impact on the length of time as well. For me, part of the motivation is proving myself or others wrong. If someone says something is impossible, I feel it is a dare to try it. A few years ago the thought that I would ever run a 5K was laughable. I would think, “It’s not for me,” “It’s not who I am,” or “That sounds horrible, I do not know why anyone would ever want to do such a thing and now you need to be quiet so I can eat my deep fried snickers in peace.”
Yes, there is such a thing.
And amazingly enough, I did run a 5K. Several in fact. To the point I thought I could maybe do longer distances. Who is this person????
There is something absolutely stunning about the realization we do not have to stay the same. If you have been told or you have told yourself over and over, for probably longer than 256 days, that you are or are not something, then it has formed some deep grooves in your brain that tell yourself it is true. One of the most life-changing bits of information I learned years ago was about the brain and its ability to form new pathways. http://www.whatisneuroplasticity.com/pathways.php
Yes, we are created with a propensity towards certain grooves: optimism or pessimism, couches or marathons, and everything in between. The beautiful reality is that God designed us to become new creations. He has provided the feelings of being unsettled to propel us forward to find contentment in Him and in the ministry we are designed to do.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.2 Cor 5:17
We can dig our heels in and refuse to move forward which leads to negative, depressing feelings that come with that position. Or we can choose a new path that does not feel natural at first, but where the fruit quickly becomes abundant.
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” Galatians 5:22-23 msg
The idea of writing for 31 straight days sounds impossible, but with God all things are possible. Try to prove Him wrong on this.
What is it in your life that you describe as “just the way I am?” If it is something that causes you discomfort it would be worth it to examine it and decide if it might be the thing God can use to propel you into a place of abundant fruit. You just have to be willing to take a new path.
Who could be the one person you ask to help you forge a new path? We need to help each other in the process, it is a rewarding task, but it takes perseverance.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” Hebrews 12:1-3