One of the myths that we hear with great frequency is that “it takes 28 days to form a habit.” While it can be dismissed as a harmless myth, it actually leaves people feeling stupid or inadequate when, after 28 days, they have not changed something they have been working on, and that disappointment can keep them from sticking with their efforts to behave in new ways.
In our experience, real change takes between 9–12 months of practice, and then another year or two of catching oneself when falling back into old patterns. Think about it this way: as an adult you have many things you do without thinking (your habits), and that’s good. Your brain counts on that efficiency so that it can attend to other demands throughout your days and weeks. You developed those “habits” over time—usually from years of doing something in a particular way. In doing so, you’ve created pathways in your brain, like a path through beach grass, that are your known habits for going through life.
Changing your habits and learning new behaviors takes consistent focus over time because you need to change those pathways in your brain, which is a lot like trying to create a new path through beach grass—it’s slow going! “Consistent focus” doesn’t require a lot of time at one sitting, but it does need to occur in regular intervals over the course of many months.
Many of you who know our work have seen that we have just started to offer our Leader in You Leadership Lab, a 9-month online coaching program to support you in creating a more satisfying life and world. A number of people told us that it would be tough to sell something that asked people to work on something for 9 months. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t, but we know that if you really want to claim your power and learn to lead in all aspects of your life, you have to learn and practice over time in order to make real changes that stick.
We don’t want you to waste another dollar or another moment of your life on things that don’t really make a long-term difference. So, we created a program that asks you to spend less than an hour a week, over the course of 9 months, to help you learn and practice new ways of stepping into your life, and leading in your world, so that you create a life and work life that you love. It’s a program that supports you in learning the skills and tools needed to move your life forward. An approach that guides you in creating a world that is rich and satisfying.
Your world needs your leadership. You, your family, your work, and your community all need your leadership. Don’t get seduced by promises that it only takes 28 days to change your life. You can waste a lot of time and a lot of money with these kinds of get-rich-quick promises. Take the time, over the next 9-12 months, to genuinely create the life you love and make a difference in the lives you love.
We have taken the complex, overwhelming work on leadership and management, and teach people the most important nuggets so that they have the opportunity to grow into their leadership. We’ve done the research and know that one of the best ways to learn is to get small amounts of information along with the chance to practice and discuss the concepts over time. To support people in their learning, the Leadership Lab will provide people with leadership and management nuggets weekly, so that they can have time to learn, practice, and discuss the new concepts within the Leadership Lab community.
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