Making New Year’s resolutions is easy. Keeping them is hard. More than 21 days hard. Maybe you should quit a bunch of stuff that’s not working instead.
Fact is, the belief that it takes 21 days to create a new habit is a myth. “The 21 day myth may well come from a book published in 1960 by a plastic surgeon” says psychologist Jeremy Dean, author of Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick.”
Dr Maxwell Maltz noticed that amputees took, on average, 21 days to adjust to the loss of a limb and he argued that people take 21 days to adjust to any major life changes.” According to a study, it takes an average of 66 days to create a new habit. If you’re going for “mastery”, then expect it to take 10,000 hours, which turns into 5 or more years. So, somewhere between 66 days and 10,000 hours and you’re good to go!
Bottom line: Creating new habits are going to take lots of time. If you really, really, really want to reach your goals, then start quitting.
“Quit the wrong stuff, stick with the right stuff, and have the courage to do one or the other” states Seth Godin in his short, powerful tome The Dip: When to Quit and When to Stick. Quit the things that no longer work or do enough in your life. Maybe they used to, maybe at one time you were more interested and engaged. Now, it’s just a drag.
The book club that’s really a wine club and you don’t drink.
The networking meeting that’s mainly small business owners and now you are working in a large corporation.
The volunteer committee for a loved charitable organization, but the meetings no longer fit your schedule.
Let go. Quit. It’s not only okay, it’s good. Very good. For you and for everyone else touched by your involvement.
Not only do you get the time back you need to put towards the new habit you want to create, everyone else is freed up to discover new ideas, new people and create what’s best for their lives right now, too.
Quitting takes courage. More courage than creating New Year’s resolutions. Because it feels uncomfortable to change your own behavior and awkward to say no.
I like Charlie Gilkey’s approach to quitting who “recognizes there are some obligations that we have that we really don’t want, but that it’s nonetheless important to see them through.” So, you see through your commitments without over-doing it, and then don’t renew.
By quitting what’s no longer working in your life and simply zapping your time, you open up space in your heart and head to focus on what you really care about, what you really have the passion to achieve, what you really love. Those are the resolutions worth sticking to, those are worth achieving, and those are worth not quitting.