Habit Psychology

We’ve all heard it before: 21 days to make a habit.  21 days.  It sounds easy.  It sounds short.  It sounds simple.

But is it?

21 Days.  3 Weeks.  504 Hours.  30,240 Minutes.  1,814,400 Seconds.

It turns out that 21 days really is a long time, but we can get around that.  Believe it or not, we are constantly going through the full 21 day-cycle to start new habits – The only problem is that these habits aren’t always the ones that we want to be starting.  It seems that bad habits are easy to start and easy to feed, but the good habits are hard to grow (just like flowers & vegetables take a herculean effort and grandmotherly patience, but weeds grow for free…).

After scouring the web for legitimate advice on growing the good habits (the flowers) and plucking up the bad ones (the weeds), it’s easy to see that there’s a lot of great stuff out there, especially related to learning a foreign language.  The following keys will help you become a more successful habit-maker:

  1. Remember that when we remove a bad habit from our life, there is a void – an empty, blank space.  This could be an emotional space, or simply a free time-slot.  Think of it as the dirt that is now available once you’ve plucked a weed.  To ensure that another weed doesn’t pop up in its place, you have to plant a flower.  Example:  Every day after work, Bob goes home, plops down on the couch and numbs his mind with TV for the next several hours.  FIX: As soon as Bob get home, he laces up the ol’ running shoes and goes for a 20-30 minute jog.  Your goal is to replace one bad habit with one good habit.
  2. Use a system to remind yourself of habits that you’ve started and ongoing goals that need some attention.  A perfect example is Mindbloom.  This is a free website that helps you be a better you – It keeps track of goals and habits with reminders, motivation and rewards.  You can join a community who is as ambitious as you are (or as ambitious as you’d like to be).   Everyone here at LearnALanguage.com uses Mindbloom on a daily basis and is encouraged to be creative, motivated and ambitious.
  3. Good habits are hard to keep, even after the 21-Day creation period.  The truth is, in order to keep your good habits, you must have your motivation behind them.  The motivation is different for each person, and that’s how it should be.  Decide for yourself why you are going to learn a foreign language, lose 10 pounds, read 1 book per month, comb your hair, be on time, Facebook less, smile more and be happier.  Once you know the why, it will be easier to keep it up, even after Day 21.

This is only a small taste of the Psychology of Habit-Making.  The rest is up to you.

My industry is all about foreign language learning, so it makes sense that I extend an invitation to you: Begin Learning Today.  Start with a habit that will bring countless benefits for years to come, all for free.  As always, we welcome your comments and feedback.

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