• claire-warner

You're not "going back" - you're creating a new habit

As society starts to reopen and Covid restrictions begin to lift, more and more I'm seeing people referring to "going back to normal" or "going back"

Regardless of the terminology used, the phrase seems to suggest that where we have been has been abnormal and that "going back" will be natural and easy.

However, even though the last 12/14 months have indeed seemed abnormal to most of us, in terms of behaviour and habit setting and embedding, it is very true to say that restrictions and uncertainty have become our habitual normal

The 21/90 rule is credited as being the invention of cosmetic surgeon, Dr Maxwell Maltz, who in the course of his work with patients in the 1960s, suggested that it took 21 days of practice for a person's old mental image of themself to disappear and a new one to form.

And research done by University College London suggests it takes people at least 66 more days before that new behaviour or habit starts to feel so natural and automatic that it becomes embedded as part of your lifestyle.

The 21 / 90 rule has been used to help manage expectations and motivate the practices needed for lasting change ever since.

But we need to reframe our own perceptions of the lifting of restrictions and a return to "normal life". Because if we look at our own lives in terms of the last 90 days, for many of us, those 90 days have created a new habit of a specific set of behaviours and restrictions. And for some, we've not had a consistent set of behaviours or expectations for any 90 day period in the last year. So our "new normal" is one of uncertainty and change.

So when you, or a friend or colleague, are struggling with what you had previously expected to be a liberating and joyful "return" to normal, please be kind to yourself (and others).

Remember that every single one of us is a total novice at creating and embedding the new habit of post-lockdown life - we've never done it before

And approach it as you would any other new habit you want to form:

  1. identify which part(s) of life you want to change and how

  2. identify what needs to happen differently to enable that change to happen

  3. identify the potential blockers and challenges to that change

  4. remember it's going to take at least 21 days of the new behaviour for it to even begin to feel normal

  5. and it's going to take around 90 days for that new behaviour to feel so natural and automatic that it becomes embedded as part of your lifestyle

Need any help or support to imagine this for yourself or others? Just shout!

Claire x