How Long to Build a Habit?

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Pri the zombie running on a treadmill with DoC watching with a clipboard

When a zombie would get hooked up to the Wordinator™ and ask me how long to build a habit, I used to say that I had no idea.

Luckily DoC found out all the answers.

The Wordinator™ and Fresh Zombies

Being a zombie takes some getting used to. It’s not all mindless shuffling about and “brains”. It’s a bit of a jarring experience to be alive, then not alive, then, quite unexpectedly, not-not alive. It’s a lot to take in within just a few seconds of conscious thought.

But hearing that you can build strong habits more easily than you ever thought possible when you were alive makes the pill a lot easier to swallow.

Of course it means new zombies end up with tons of questions. Sadly, being zombies we can really only say “brains.”  Luckily when DoC hooks a zombie up to the Wordinator™ to turn their thoughts into words, they get to ask all the questions in their head.

Usually that’s very little. But one question that keeps coming up is, “how long to build a habit?” It’s a question DoC has a ready answer for, but it requires a little knowledge about habits.

The Truth about Building Habits

Habits are simply actions that you do consistently to the point they become a part of your routine. There are two phases to building a habit: the routine phase and the brain-mapping phase.

In phase one the habit becomes routine. Doing something new requires a change. It requires a change in your schedule. It requires a change in your patterns. It takes time to get used to it. This phase takes 21 days to build a habit. This means that in three weeks time you are used to this activity as part of your schedule and routine.

Phase two is a bit more complex. This is where you can do the activity without thinking. It’s where your brain has actually mapped out new neural “shortcuts” that allow you to do the activity without thought. Sure, you’re going to be conscious when you run for 30 minutes, but you can start getting changed into workout clothes as a matter of habit before you realize it. It’s how you humans drive that metal, wheelie thing without really thinking about it.

Now DoC has done some of her own experiments, but she’s also dug up some research that shows that habits actually rebuild the brain even to the point that people that have lost their ability to retain memories still retain their habits. Now, how long this takes is up for debate, but we typically see this happen in 60-90 days. Plus, the more you do it, the stronger it gets.

So “how long to build a habit,” the answer is 21 days to make it routine, and 60-90 to remap the brain. You can do it too! Simply follow the easy streaking fun™ model and build amazing habits!

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