Over the Hump


habitSomeone told me years ago that it takes 21 days to create or break a habit. I’m sure there’s some research on this, but, my own experience has been that it’s pretty true.

That’s not to say that every time I’ve wanted to change my life I’ve been successful. Most often the 22nd day was when my hopes and dreams came to a crashing halt.

That’s not all bad. For 3 weeks I wanted to be a tennis player. For three weeks I wanted to learn to identify plants, trees, and birds. Really. I bought the books and the binoculars. I had the hat and vest. I was ready. Probably the worst idea I had for three weeks was the 21 days I wanted to be a professional fisherman. The fact that I had only fished – unsuccessfully – once in my life and that I didn’t own any equipment beyond a cheap rod and reel didn’t concern me. I was committed.

If you’re doing the 30-for-30, you are three quarters of the way there. Just hang in there for another week and you’ll have accomplished something that most people never do. If you’re doing the 100 Days Challenge, you’re over the habit-creating hump. It’s not that it won’t always be easy. It’s not that you won’t have days when you don’t feel like moving, or have trouble finding the time to move, or days when you’re just flat sick of it, but you’ll have the momentum to keep going.

If you’ve struggled, if you’ve missed a day or two – or more – don’t be discouraged.fall-down-7-times-get-up-8 Recommit. Start again. And then start again if you have to. That’s the funny thing about creating or breaking habits. Sometimes you have to fail in order to succeed. In the end it doesn’t matter how many times you fail, it only matters that eventually you succeed.

In my life I’ve failed much more often than I’ve succeeded. What’s made the difference for me is that I’ve always tried to fail forward. As they told me when I ran the ascent of Pike’s Peak: always fall up the mountain so that you don’t have to repeat your steps.


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One Response to Over the Hump

  1. Sandria says:

    Dear John,
    I have just started running… I find your thoughts and comments so inspiring.
    I heard it takes 6 weeks to start or break a habit… and 3 months for that habit to be part of your life! That, for me, is more accurate, so I am halfway thru forming my new habit…. regime (running)! It’s beginning to hurt just a little now the next day as I think I am trying harder! I don’t intend to falter (and I will not fail) but if I do feel weak, you always inspire me. So thank you very much.

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