iPhone alarms went off early this week at my house as we embarked on another school year for our kids. We had forgotten how long it takes to wake our kids up, feed them, pack lunches, brush hair and face school traffic to get them to their classes on time. We fell out of the habit of making our lunches the night before, waking up early and grabbing the gear for after-school practices and lessons. We had those routines finely tuned and working in a distinct rhythm back in April, primarily because we had started those habits back in August 2021. But we’ve lost that touch and now must remember how we did it back in the Spring.
Perhaps you feel the same about a habit that you once had, that has fallen off for some reason in the recent past. It may have been something you did “before COVID” or “before we had kids” that isn’t quite as easy to achieve. Maybe you spent less time eating out a year ago than you do now, or you saved money each paycheck into your retirement account before life changes forced you to make some adjustments. You used to go to the gym three times a week, take your spouse out for date night and call your mom to check on her each week. There are many habits that we all once had that we long to rekindle, but somehow don’t know how to do that.
I had the privilege to hear James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, speak at a conference back in in 2019 ( I wrote about that in a blogpost Take Time to Change) He mentioned that if you get 1% better in something in your life every day, you’ll be 33% better in a year’s time. I’ve seen that in my life and our clients’ financial lives. In a recent article, How Long Does it Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science), Clear comments that a new habit takes an average of 66 days to form into a daily part of your life-not 4 days, not 21, but 9 weeks. Clear’s words are powerful as they relate to habit formation:
“How long it takes to form a particular habit doesn’t really matter that much. Whether it takes 50 days or 500 days, you have to put in the work either way.”
Good advice and a starting point for those that need to make a change. Whether it’s finally creating and living on a budget, finishing your estate planning, or a personal goal or endeavor. You can’t finish what you don’t start.
It just so happens that our kids have nine weeks of school before Fall Break. That gives us plenty of time to get them back in the school routine. What can you accomplish in the next 66 days?