How's everyone feeling about their New Year's resolutions so far? If you're still excited about your new outlook, keep it up. If you're starting to falter or wonder if it's worth it, take heart. If you stick with it, the habit you promised to start on Jan. 1 could be ingrained by March 6.
That's according to psychologists at University College London, more or less. You may have heard that it takes 21 days for a new habit to stick, which may mean you've circled Jan. 21 on your calendars. That date isn't the result of study, though — it stems from a guess about how long we take to get used to changes. The 1960 book that started this meme, Maxwell Maltz's Psycho-cybernetics, cites how long a plastic surgery patient takes to accept a new look, how long until a new house starts to feel like home, and how long amputees experience symptoms of phantom limbs.
If you're talking about forming new habits, a 2012 study found that a more likely average amount of time is 66 days. March 6 is the 66th day of the year, so if you're already feeling discouraged, you have lots of time. Don't beat yourself up if you "miss" a deadline either — the 66-day average is also an estimate, stemming from a wide range of averages and guesses.
If the uncertainty of it all is bumming you out, give yourself some credit. New habits, whether it's saving $20 every week or cooking more at home, are as individual as we are. Take any small step you've successfully integrated into you life and build up from there.