The Experts On Forming New Healthy Lifestyle Habits Are Nuts

We’ve all heard at least a million times that “experts agree that it only takes about three to six weeks” to form a new habit.

That’s only true if the new habit is…

…taking a multi-vitamin…or using dental floss, or remembering to gas up the car every Monday morning.

(Here’s the new Opinion Research Corp survey for Nestle’s Pure Life that got me started on this topic.)

It’s all about the sticky note!

These habits are really nothing more than simply forming the habit of remembering. Usually all it takes is a sticky note on the bathroom mirror.

The new “habit” takes little time, little new knowledge, and doesn’t require adjusting other parts of your life.

Lifestyle habits are different

The ORC survey above found that regular people – not experts – believe new habits take at least six months to form, possibly longer.

I think they’re right.  Most of the lifestyle habits people really want take sustained effort for months and years. And even then, many folks quickly lose these new habits when the context changes.

  • For example, I have quite a few friends who say they’re non-smokers. It’s true – unless they’re in a bar, where they automatically light up.
  • And what about people say they’ve overhauled how they eat? It’s true – until the holidays, when family tensions spark two straight months of emotional eating.

How long do your customers take to form new health and wellness habits?

I’d like to know more about what and your staff see in your business.  Add your comment by this Thurs., April 9 at 5 p.m. Central and you could win a $100 DonorsChoose gift card!

Have you cracked the code on embedding new habits in your clients, customers and members in just a few weeks?

What are your thoughts and observations about lifestyle habits and how people do (and don’t) form them?

Reminder: post by this Thurs., April 9 at 5 p.m. Central to enter the drawing for a $100 DonorsChoose gift card.

(We need your email to zap spammers, but we keep it confidential.)


  1. says

    You’re spot on! If you look at much of the research in behavior change, you have to practice those habits for several weeks or months if you want to sustain them long-term. As much as we all look for the quick fix, it takes commitment and self-monitoring and support to sustain healthy habits.

    But that’s an opportunity for those of us who build those behavior change strategies into what we offer. It may not be easy for an individual to change, but we can provide some of the resources and support to help them become more active, or eat a healthier diet, or make those other lifestyle choices that will benefit their health and well-being.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *