It is believed that to develop a habit one must consciously work on said habit for a minimum of 21 days consecutively. This was introduced by a surgeon Maxwell Martz in his book Pschyo-Cybernetics which he developed the idea through professional observation. His theory was perpetuated by self-help gurus since then. From Zig Zigler to Tony Robbins the concept has infiltrated training beliefs.
It appears the power of the notion overlooked an important aspect… “minimum.” It appears that science has determined that it actually takes more like 66 days to build a new habit. According to author James Clear in which he details a study by London Health Psychologist Phillippa Lally “On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.”
Recently at a training work shop we were introduced to a simple training concept by Candace Stump. Being a “pattern guy.” I quickly recognized a pattern developing and then shifted the pattern into a format that I could identify with.
We follow a simple self-defense strategy that truly simplifies any internal struggle when it comes to an altercation. It is summed in the following saying: “If you can’t get OUT of the fight, get IN to it!” This logic works in other life issues also. I find any time I am hesitant to do one task or another. I recite this quote to myself and then “dive in.” It normally tends to make the task a whole lot easier.
Candace’s teaching tool was based on the idea when teaching and working on a strategy was to Introduce-Isolate-Progressive-Incorporate. I liked it a lot and I could see the logic of it instantly being usable.
I felt I needed to adjust it a little for how I teach. For me it’s:
INtroduce– When first shown or taught the action, concept, principle, etc. (we will refer all of these aspects as a “skill” for the remainder of this article.) work on the skill, ask questions, allow yourself to fail at your attempt with it. Allow yourself to become familiar with it- “Get to know it…”
INvest– Put in some dedicated time to work the skill. Avoid actions that will distract from developing an understanding the skill in the context it was intended. Work the skill for the skill’s sake.
INternalize– Spend personal time working through each detail of the skill. Expand the opportunities that the skill would be available. Associate the skill to other skills already developed.
INcorporate– Start using the skill in combination with abilities, knowledge and skills already developed. Use the skill in freestyle activities, defensive situations etc. always being aware of it use.
INtensify– As you use the skill and incrementally increase the intensity that you use during your execution. Allow yourself to freely increase the speed, strength, duration, etc. of the skill so that you believe in yourself and your comfort to use the skill.
Allow yourself time for this process. Rushing it, hoping to develop it in a mere 21 days although admirable, is not necessarily practical nor does it appear to be scientific. Instead give yourself a good 12 days or so with each level. That works out to be about 60 days in total or 2 months.
Now you might look at this and say “Wo! Wait a Minute! 60 days for one skill?” Yes, that’s about right! Here’s the good news. We work on another training concept of “5 Minutes a Day!” In which we focus on one skill for a mere 5 minutes of each day. Now the math tells us if we spend 5 minutes for 12 days we are really only working on each phase for about an hour. It’s just that spreading it out over several days and months helps to insure that the skill is more fully assimilated into your skillset.
PLUS- This will allow you time in the day for the development of other skills and activities too!
Remember: “If you can’t get OUT of the fight, get IN to it!”
We’ll see you on the mat!