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Breaking Old, and Creating New Patterns

Have you heard of the 21/90 rule? It states that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 90 days to make it a permanent lifestyle change. This is of course, like any wellness related situation, a very bio-individual experience. Some may have the ability to implement change more quickly while many may require much more time, but I think it is nice to have a baseline to work from when we are looking to make positive changes in our lives.

If you commit to your goal for 21 days, theoretically, it will become a habit. When you commit to and dedicate 90 days, you are now crossing the line into a permanent and sustainable lifestyle change! Nothing good comes over night and when we think about how long some of our "unhealthy" lifestyle choices have been deeply ingrained in us and are a part of who we have become, it is no wonder it would take at LEAST 90 days to have long lasting changes and effects. Like I have touched on in past blogs, people don't change based on what they know, they change based on how they feel. Getting in touch and in tune with our feelings and inner compass is, for me, always step one.

It is important to remember our long-term goals and intentions because maintaining change after the 90 days in not automatically set in stone. Roughly 25% of people return back to old habits after 3 months, 50% of the remaining revert after 6 months and after 1 year, over 80% of those people have let go of those healthy patterns! I was shocked when I learned this, but it was a reality check that helped keep me in line. It takes discipline. One helpful trick is to schedule daily self-check-ins to remind us of why we made these changes. All too often when we get to a place of balance, we can have a false perception that we can let go of the healthy choices we made that got us here because we have achieved our goals and intentions. The reality is that those choices ARE what got us to where we are and will continue to KEEP us here. They also create a foundation for the next layer of growth that will eventually find its way to us!

Another shocking statistic I learned was that only 20% of people are actually willing to change, 10% of people have or are changing and the other 70% of people are precontemplative!

Sticking to new routines and patterns can be challenging, especially during busy or stressful times. While change often feels chaotic and unpredictable, years of extensive research reveals that change is a process we can clearly understand. One evidence-based and widely implemented framework of change, specifically in relation to health behavior, is the Transtheoretical Model.

This model and its “stages of change” show that the process involves a series of steps we all go through when making or adjusting patterns.

The Stages of Change are:

  1. Precontemplation-not ready to or consider making a change.

  2. Contemplation-getting ready to change and becoming aware of the benefits.

  3. Preparation (Determination)-ready to make change and beginning to make shifts to prepare for it.

  4. Action-implementation of a behavior change and successfully taking action, but change is still new.

  5. Maintenance-sustained new healthy changes for more than six months and recent changes become habitual.

  6. Termination-people have successfully integrated the new change into their daily lifestyle. They are confident with the changes and do not feel tempted to return to old patterns.

Recycle is at the center of it all, this is when people return to a previous stage. This is a normal part of the change process and can occur at any point on the path to change. Change is rarely straightforward, and regression or repetition needs to occur before the process can move forward again. Often, we beat ourselves up during this stage of change, can feel defeated and the desire to give up sets in.

I offer this alternate perspective to help you see that this IS the process. Self-doubt is more damaging than slipping back on a change we are trying to implement. I invite you to hold space and compassion for yourself. Know you are a work in progress. Allow the discomfort, this is your body telling you it is craving the change and instead of subscribing to the negative self-talk and guilt, congratulate yourself for continuing your journey.

"Looking for truth? Observe people's habitual behavior patterns/cycles. The truth is in their patterns and cycles. Not so much their words."

~Lalah Delia

The reality of changing long-held habits and patterns of behavior can be scary, so this kind of change often requires courageous action. Despite how it’s often presented, change isn’t linear. It’s more like a winding path filled with obstacles and detours, and that path is different for everyone. I wish you all love, support and bravery on your individual journeys to your most fulfilled self!

All the love,


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