Yay! I’m so excited to have you in this 21 Day Mini-Course! This is a quick start program for establishing a new, lifelong habit of exercising daily. It is closely based on Chapter 4 of The Sweet Spot; if you have the book, be sure to read Chapter 3, too, before you begin.
Everyday, you’ll receive an email to help you create your new habit. You can read and work ahead by using this course website. If you have a question, please ask it in the private Facebook Group, which serves as our forum for all of the Mini-Courses (your access to this private Facebook Group does not expire). That way we can all learn from each other, no matter what habit we are trying to establish. I check this Facebook Group daily (unless I’m on vacation) to answer questions.
You’ll want to bookmark or download the mini-course workbook:
How long does it really take to get into a new habit?
Conventional wisdom tells us that if we can repeat something every day for three weeks, a habit will be formed.
I have good news and bad news about this. First, the bad news: It is a myth that habit formation takes twenty-one days. (The earliest references to this notion that I can find are from a plastic surgeon who noted that it took his patients about three weeks before they got used to their new look after having a nose job. Twenty-one days to stop doing a double take in the mirror is not exactly a scientific finding that applies to anything we are doing here.) Actual science shows, not surprisingly, that there is a wide time range for simple habit formation. The easier the behavior, the less time it takes to form a habit. On average, it takes sixty-six days to form a habit. Hard things, like routinely exercising, typically take much longer than this.
So why have I designed a 21 program for you? Because breaking habit creation into small, digestible chunks makes it less daunting—and that increases our odds of success. I feel pretty confident that if you pick the right habit (and I’ll guide you in picking the right habit) you’ll be well on your way to establishing a lifelong habit by the end of this program. Really!
The good news is that the simpler a habit, the less time it takes; automatically drinking a glass of water at breakfast, for example, takes an average of only twenty days. (Remember this mantra when you are choosing your habit: EASIER IS BETTER.) Neurologically, we know that the brain starts to wire itself for greater automaticity the first time we repeat a behavior. This means that even if a behavior isn’t totally automatic after repeating it every day for a week, we are still making huge strides toward forming our habits in just a day or so.
More good news: once a habit is formed, your brain will retain the hardwiring for the habit for the rest of your life. This is very exciting: What you’ll do in this mini-course is going to set you up for a lifetime of physical activity.
This program is going to feel a little slow for some of you. I’ve taught this course and coached people in forming new habits for seven years now. You’re gonna need to trust that I know what I’m doing here, even when it feels like you should be doing more. Just stick to simple tasks I suggest at the bottom of each email.
For those of you who love the slow pace of this mini-course and are likely to do nothing in the face of having nothing hard to do, please remember: To form a habit, you need to TAKE ACTION. The best actions to take are the ones that I recommend in your daily email.
In the beginning, the recommended actions will usually not be actual exercise of any sort. Take this as permission to stay on the couch a little longer if you want, while we get you set up for success.
Or, if you are really anxious to start exercising, that’s great! Get out and do something that feels really fun to you, or something that feels like play — anything rewarding and enjoyable. If you feel any dread, discomfort, or resistance, please stop. Do not force yourself do anything right now. Do not do anything you feel like you “should” do, but that you don’t really want to do. Don’t push through pain in the pursuit of gain. Definitely don’t run out and join a gym just yet. We’ll get there, I promise. But not yet.
What To Do Today
Task #1: Go to the Facebook Group and request access, and then introduce yourself! Who are you, where are you from, and why did you sign up for this course?
Task #2: We human beings are more successful making changes with the support of other people, so take a moment to find a friend or a group to make this journey with (maybe at work? at your kids’ school? from church?). If you can’t find a friend or group who wants to do this with you, don’t worry! There are lots of people on the Facebook Group that are also looking for virtual habit buddies–head over there and post a request.
Once you have a buddy, try to check in with him or her a few times a week or even every day to review the worksheets together. You’ll keep each other on track, and by sharing your insights and progress, you’ll be able to help each other overcome obstacles.