Three Phases of Forming a Habit

Three Phases of Forming a Habit

Published On: July 5, 2021

People that are successful in life perform routines that support their success. You may have read that it takes approximately 21 days to form a new habit, but there is more to it than that. A number of research studies have concluded that it actually takes people 66 days on average to form a new habit.

There is a process involved in forming new habits. It is not just a matter of doing something consistently for 66 days. If only it was that easy! In this article, we will explain what the three phases are to habit formation which will help you on your journey to forming the new habits that you desire.


1. Honeymoon Phase

Imagine meeting someone and then falling in love with them. The world seems a much better place after this, doesn’t it? Every new day is exciting and you are prepared to do anything to make this new person in your life happy. You never want this feeling to end but in the majority of cases it does, unfortunately.

Reality kicks in and things look different. You start to question whether you have made the right choice. The same can be said for forming a new habit. In the beginning, you are very excited about what this new habit will do for you. You work hard at it and feel great about it.

Then suddenly you get past this honeymoon stage and things don’t look so great anymore. It is now becoming a chore for you to keep your new habit going. Congratulations, you have just entered the critical stage.


2. Critical Stage

This is not called the critical phase for nothing. It is the time when reality really starts to kick in and you question whether all of the time and effort that you are spending on your new habit is really worth it.

Your motivation levels are at their lowest during this phase and if you don’t survive it then there is a real danger that your old bad habits will resurface and you will go back to your old ways. You must successfully navigate your way through the critical phase to continue with your new habit and make it stick.

The best way to survive the critical stage is to do the following:

  • Be aware that you have entered the critical phase
  • Ask yourself the right questions to refocus and take control of your emotions
  • Visualize the big picture – how continuing with this new habit will change your life for the better in the future


 3. Second Nature Phase

As you might expect, this phase means that your new habit has reached the stage of becoming second nature to you. This is a great place to be but you still need to be cautious here as you do not want to fall foul of these things that can put you back in the critical phase:

  • Getting discouraged
  • Having your new habit interrupted
  • Feeling that you have already done enough

Any one of these things can land you back in the critical stage. If you do end up back there then you need to keep fighting to get back in the second nature stage. After that, it is just a matter of carrying on until the new routine becomes an automatic habit.

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