Can You Create a New Habit in 21 Days?

"Fake it 'til you make it." We've all heard the cliche for approaching something that seems out of reach. There may be some method to the madness of that approach.

But have you ever given much thought to what it takes to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be when it comes to eliminating old habits and forming new ones?

Success is habitual.

We have all witnessed those who seemingly achieve amazing feats over and over. Think of Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan. What allows one person to be an automatic peak performer every day without fail while others experience failure after failure? Most likely, the achievers have created and practiced success systems, habits and rituals that serve rather than detract from their goals.

If everything affects everything, which is, of course, true, then it pays to take a holistic look at the current habits and patterns in ALL areas of your life, at work, at home and at play.

You cannot change what you don't acknowledge so it pays to get real and be brutally honest with yourself so you can finally align your habits with your dreams.

How to Create New and Empowering Habits

1. Identify your current habits, the good, the bad and the ugly. You have probably practiced many of the same habits throughout your life without realizing it. Keep a pen and paper handy throughout the day to capture habits as you become aware of them. From the moment you wake up to the moment your eyes close at night, most of your thoughts, words and actions are habitual. Write them down on paper. If you get stuck, ask others around you what habits they notice in you. This might take a few days.

2. Once you have identified your dominant habits, identify the source of those habits. Most of your habits were programmed into you at a very early age without you even realizing it. Many of your habits come from observing your dominant parent or caregiver. If you are habitually late, perhaps this trait was modeled for you by someone you admire. Not always but often enough. From the brand of car you drive to the brands of food you purchase, many of these habits were modeled for you and you practice them subconsciously.

Here are some common negative habits:
reading the newspaper first thing in the morning
vegging out, watching tv all evening
going to bed too late
hitting the snooze button every morning
cleaning obsessively
exercising excessively or not exercising at all
eating fast food frequently
saving money or not saving money
excessive credit card debt
choosing toxic relationships
not reading self-improvement books
not setting goals
having many started projects and none finished
negative self talk
criticism of others
sugar addiction
skipping breakfast
overcommitting to things because you can't say no

Often you can look at your parents, examine their habits and see them in yourself. I know I do on both the positive side and the negative side. They're there alright. This exercise is not to judge others or yourself. It is simply to identify. This is especially important if you have children because your current habits are likely to be modeled by those who look up to you. What habits and traits do you want to instill in them?

3. Next to each habit you identified, decide which of these habits are empowering and which habits are disempowering. An empowering habit serves your greater good. It usually serves the greater good of the people around you too, those whom you love and care about. A disempowering habit does not serve your greater good, in fact, it likely detracts from your life. Disempowering habits are roadblocks to your dreams.

Next to each empowering habit, draw a smiley face :) Next to each disempowering habit, draw a frown :( There is no neutral.

4. The best way to eliminate an old disempowering habit is to replace it with a new more empowering one. Next to each disempowering habit, write down a description of the opposite habit you want to replace it with.

For example, if you come home after a long day's work and turn on the television vegging out mindlessly for hours while your belly magically grows, perhaps an evening walk with your mate is what's called for. Perhaps instead of reading the newspaper each morning and being bombarded with negative news and advertisements, perhaps you will opt to replace it with reading a chapter of a personal development book or listening to an audio while you prepare for the day. Instead of surfing the net, perhaps you want to write a few pages of that book you've been putting off. If you've been hoarding to the point you barely have a path to walk through, perhaps some purging and organizing is in order. If you habitually criticize your mate, perhaps you can create a new habit of focusing on what's great about them. If you were a habitual procrastinator, you could become a habitual action taker.

5. Prioritize which habits you want to tackle first based on their importance to your life. Write #1 next to the #1 most important habit you want to focus on, #2 for the next most important habit and so on. To begin, focus your time and attention only on the habit you have determined is most important that will have the greatest positive effect on your life. I'm not going to tell you to turn your entire life upside down overnight by tackling them all at once. Some can do this successfully because they seek a complete life makeover. Others who are easily overwhelmed and lack confidence will sabotage themselves and fare much better by focusing on one habit at a time.

6. Imagine a role model or someone you admire. What habits and rituals do they consistently practice to achieve the results they do? Now here's the bigger question: What beliefs underlie those habits? Model the habits of those whom you admire. Model the habits high achievers. Focus on the beliefs underneath that support those empowering habits. Fake it 'til you make it is ok to begin but it only gets you so far. Many copy the action steps in an effort to duplicate a formula, and complain when things don't work out. They only went through the motions. The real magic happens when you in embrace the underlying Principles, beliefs and mindset that produced the success.

Sometimes creating a new habit can lead to a new belief.
Sometimes creating a new belief can lead to a new habit.

Ultimately, they must be congruent to move you in the direction of your Goal.

7. Celebrate your existing empowering habits and the new habits you seek to create. Imagine the positive effect on your life and the people you love. Revel in the ways you will impact the people around you for the better. Imagine your life in one month, 6 months, 1 year, 5-10 years from now. What will your life be like because you adopted these new and empowering habits and beliefs. Pretty remarkable I would think.

When your current thoughts and habits are congruent with your Goals and dreams, you will begin to move towards them more quickly and with seemingly less effort.

You know you have successfully created a new habit when the practice of it is automatic and effortless.

How long does it take to break an old habit or form a new habit? It varies. Most experts assert that it takes 21 days. I believe it could take an hour, a week, months or years. You are the determining factor. The greater your desire and commitment, the faster the change will occur. Practicing the new desired habit consecutively (every single day without fail) increases the speed in which you will see results.

When the identity shift occurs inside you, you are well on your way. When you no longer think of yourself as a smoker, but a non smoker. When you no longer view yourself as overweight, but rather a healthy vibrant person who lives a healthy lifestyle. When you no longer think of yourself as a complainer, rather an person who finds the good in every person and situation-automatically. That is when you will have successfully created the new empowering habit.

After you have accomplished successfully creating your #1 top priority habit, move on to # 2, then #3 and son on.

When your identity is congruent with the beliefs, thoughts and actions necessary to carry out your Goal, you have become the person necessary to achieve your Goal.

Resolve to do whatever it takes to improve the quality of your life.

Live Your Dreams

Author's Bio: 

Want to know how to Achieve your Goals at Turbo speed? Get your FREE 60 minute "Jump Start Your Goals" instant mp3 audio and Goal Setting Workbook at

Jill Koenig is "The Goal Guru" A Self Made Millionaire and America's Top Goal Coach

Copyright 2009 Jill Koenig