Is It Possible To Change Your Habits In 21 Days?

Last updated by Katie M.

Stop smoking, start meditating, get up earlier, etc. Personal development gurus promise to change our habits in a record time of 21 days. Are three short weeks really enough to change patterns that have sometimes been in place for years? We investigated for you.

Is It Possible To Change Your Habits In 21 Days?

Why 21 days? Psycho-cybernetics

Unsurprisingly, the origin of this 21-day rule comes from aesthetic medicine. Indeed, in the 1960s, the American surgeon Maxwell Maltz came up with this revolutionary theory. After noticing that it took his patients an average of 3 weeks to get used to their new face, he stated that “it takes a minimum of 21 days to remove an old mental image and create a new one”. 🧠

Proud of his discovery, the plastic surgeon published the book Cybernetic Psychology. The book quickly became one of the top 50 most influential writings in the field of personal development. In almost six decades, this magic formula has been repeated thousands of times. The problem? The glowing promises tend to leave out the word “minimum” in the theory.

Through Chinese whispers, these 21 days have become an undisputed truth. You can’t watch an inspirational video or browse through a wellness book without coming across this rule. From a marketing point of view, it’s a jackpot: a short period to change your life, it’s a dream. But what about the scientific aspect?

>>> Discover the 12 steps to follow for a fresh start.

The theory of 21 days, what the science says

Science then took up the issue. Various studies have been conducted to answer the question of how long it takes to break or change a habit. Some were ordered by the Canadian government, others by NASA. 🕵️ The most notable study is by Phillippa Lally, a researcher at University College London.

This study was conducted on 96 individuals over 12 weeks. Each person chose a habit they wanted to change, and they were asked to report daily on the perceived change. They were also asked to record on a calendar whether they had performed their new ritual. The analysis revealed that it took on average 66 days to change a habit. Could this be the new Holy Grail of “neural reprogramming”? 😏 Not really. Above all, it’s proof that adopting a new practice varies drastically depending on the person, the type of habit to be adopted, and the circumstances.

👉 For example, eating one piece of fruit a day would be easier to implement than changing your diet completely and becoming a vegan.

The verdict: at least 21 days...

In conclusion, the 21-day period is more of a myth than an absolute truth. It takes AT LEAST 21 days to change a habit. However, allow more time in your schedule to make a lasting transformation. Also, keep in mind that there are many factors in creating a new practice that are independent of your motivation.

On the other hand, the neurobiologist Thomas Boraud declared, “You can’t ‘reprogramme’ your brain at all. Besides, habits remain complex, they don’t involve the same areas of the brain and no one has the same definition.” So be patient and understanding with yourself 🙏.

Let’s forget the numbers and commit to staying the course. The good news from Phillippa Lally’s study is that even if we miss a few days, it won’t have a long-term impact. We all miss brushing our hair on a lazy night, but that doesn’t mean we live with dreadlocks!

Editor’s note: 4 tips to change your habits gently

To avoid getting discouraged and radically forgetting a bad habit, you can follow these 4 tips that will help you find your way to the new you!

1. change one habit at a time
2. set specific and quantifiable goals: Instead of “I want to write a book”, choose “I want to write 3 pages a day for 1 month” (try the gratitude journal.)
3. set up a ritual by doing this habit at the same time of the day
4. plan a small, well-deserved reward a month or two after you start your habit change

There you have it, you know the rules for making a new start, but it’s not always easy, you get discouraged, you give up, you feel guilty, you think you suck…

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!

Be sure to check out these articles too;

Article presented by Katie M.

Discover the world through my eyes.

Read our latest articles here:

I’m Unable To Ask For Or Accept Help, But Why?

For a long time, I didn’t know how to ask for help or simply accept it. “No, don’t worry, I’ll be fine”, I used to say when people close to me offered me their support, even though I wasn’t doing well at all. In fact, it took me a long time to get psychological support, because I was convinced that I could cope on my own. What’s behind this behavior? Why can’t you ask for help? With hindsight, I’ve understood what was behind it, and I think that talking about it might help! Here are some explanations.

I Feel Useless

There have been times in my life when I’ve felt useless, too much, out of place... Whether at work or even in general. I felt like I wasn’t contributing anything to anyone. Fortunately, I managed to combat this feeling, thanks in particular to therapy. I understood where it was coming from, and I managed to get rid of this negative emotion. Today, I’m sharing with you how to move on.

How Narcissists Treat Their Exes

Walking away and definitively closing the door on your relationship with a narcissistic ex-partner is one of the most emotionally draining challenges you can face. After all, these manipulative bullies are never willing to just let bygones be bygones, and always want to have the final word after the break-down of a relationship 😈. Besides, when narcissists get dumped, their inner demon raises its ugly head and becomes determined to (metaphorically) destroy their ex-partner.

What Happens When A Narcissists Loses Control? 10 Things Play Out

You probably know by now that narcissists only ever look for one thing and one thing only; and that’s control! Whether in their personal or professional life, folks with this personality disorder need to be in the driving seat and the one calling the shots, otherwise all hell breaks loose. Although their cunning and manipulative nature means they are often hard to escape, it is still possible to turn the tables on them and take the upper hand. Yet, you’ll need a thick skin to do so because when they feel their power slipping away, they become even more dangerous and abusive; here’s how they react when that happens.

10 Weird Things Narcissists Do Sexually - Romance Is Dead

As with many things in life, narcissists also have unhealthy relationships with sex and treat it as nothing more than a self-gratifying activity. After all, manipulation, control, and emotional abuse are their so-called trusty weapons that they hide behind in most circumstances, so why wouldn’t they call on them in the bedroom too? The bottom line is people with this personality disorder are used to getting what they want and will only ever put themselves and their pleasure first, which doesn’t bode well for a healthy sex life. Discover the weird things narcissists do in the bedroom and what you should do if you are involved with one.

Can A Narcissist Become Obsessed With Someone?

Now, narcissists are known for demonstrating a worrying lack of empathy along with deviously manipulative traits, oh, and before I forget to mention it, HUGE egos too. Yes, that’s right, they love spending hours looking in the mirror and being told how fabulous they are. To put it in other words, people with this personality disorder are firmly in love with themselves, to the point of being totally obsessed with their so-called perfection, but the question is, can they put their self-admiration aside enough to become preoccupied with someone else?

10 Reasons Why Your Ex Slept With Someone Else After Your Breakup

We are all unique individuals, and we, therefore, go about handling breakups and the other obstacles life throws our way, differently. Now, when it comes to breakups, there are those of us that almost become celibate and decide that they can't stand the idea of getting to know anyone ever again. Then, on the other hand, there are those that fill their phones with dating apps and jump from one one-night stand to the next. This second scenario may seem harmless, but once we dig a little deeper into the repercussions of it, we soon realize that sleeping with other people so freshly out of a relationship masks troubling sentiments of unhappiness and uneasiness.

What Does A Narcissist Hate?

Narcissists are experts in the field of duping and manipulating their victims, yes, that’s right they are true chameleons, which explains why many of them often go undetected. Their behavior is definitely dangerous and means we definitely need to figure out what makes them tick and, in this particular case, what they hate. Understanding what these entitled personalities dislike is one of the keys to best exposing them and freeing their victims from their grip. Now, we all get angry for one reason or another, but people with this personality disorder have different triggers related to the things they despise.

Do Narcissists Come Back?

You're probably thinking that once a narcissist has upped sticks and fled, he'll never dare to show his face again, however, quite the opposite is true. The reality is that these folks are like bad smells, there's no getting rid of them quickly, therefore regardless of all the pain, hurt, and trauma they've put their victims through, they'll always make a comeback, just to prove that they are still in control 😨. In fact, no matter how much time has passed, these torturous monsters will always eventually rear their ugly heads, just to get in that one last vicious blow. Discover which 10 circumstances they'll decide to show up in their exes' lives.

5 Scary Things A Narcissist Smear Campaign Involves

We hear so much about these emotional abusers in every walk of life that we are sometimes so overloaded with information regarding them, meaning we often miss the red flags that, in hindsight, seem blatantly obvious. These vindictive manipulators often use smear campaigns as a way of getting back at their victims and villainizing them publicly. That's right, these evil campaigns are an effective method for them to change the narrative of the abuse, and to present themselves as victims, when in reality they are the perpetrators of the terror.

Wengood's favorite tunes 🎵

Wengood's playlist


  1. Only LoveBen Howard
  2. Invalid date
  3. Fix YouColdplay
  4. Beautiful DayU2
  5. Thinking out LoudEd Sheeran
  6. White FlagDido
  7. Lay Me DownSam Smith
  8. Nine Million BicyclesKatie Melua
  9. Put Your Records OnCorinne Bailey Rae
  10. Summertime SadnessLana Del Rey
  11. Imagine - Remastered 2010John Lennon
  12. Shake It OutFlorence + The Machine
  13. Space Oddity - Love You Til Tuesday versionDavid Bowie
  14. What A Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong
  15. With Or Without YouU2
  16. HelloAdele
  17. Don't Stop Me NowQueen
  18. Skinny LoveBirdy
  19. WingsBirdy
  20. Californian SoilLondon Grammar

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." 

- Oscar Wilde

How to detect a narcissist

How to detect a narcissist

How to soothe an anxiety attack

How to soothe an anxiety attack