The magic number

17 DaysI’ve been starting some new habits lately as I move toward living a brave life. But I discovered that it’s harder than I thought. Right about 17 days in.

That’s the magic time when one falls out of a new habit before it’s established fully.

One of the last exercises in Chris’s Brave New Year course is designed to get you on track to accomplishing your bravery. Through a series of exercises, you are encouraged to develop some systems and habits to help deal with the “jumbles” in your life. Simple enough, right? I decided that part of my problem was that there are quite a few things I can do and decisions I can make on the weekends that will streamline my week.

Chris warned about this phenomenon of the 17 days in his own life and practice, and at the time, I thought, “that’s silly. Once you start on a habit, 17 days shouldn’t matter. It’s the first week or so and then you’re golden.”

Boy was I wrong.

I fell off the bandwagon on, you guessed it, just about day 17.

The first week worked like a charm. I planned out my week, blocking out time on my calendar for the things I needed to accomplish both professionally and personally. Chimes on my phone and computer all week reminded me of the next task or project and things got done.

Second week, same thing – I even planned out meals for the week and what I would wear to save myself those sometimes debilitating decisions on the fly. Perfect.

Then came a weekend when I had commitments and meetings nearly all day Sunday, which was the day I had been doing my organizing and planning. What I neglected to do the previous week was to recognize that that day was coming up, and plan around it. I should have blocked off time on Saturday to do those things I had been doing on Sunday. But I didn’t.

So I slipped. Let’s take a look at the calendar. It was the first of February when I started these plans, and surprisingly (or not so much), it was the weekend of February 17 when I first slipped. And I’m still struggling into the next month.

So today is the day I scramble back on that bandwagon. Today is the day I get back to my systems, and get back on track. This next month is going to be a wild ride, so I need to streamline as much as possible.

And this time, I’ve already put a reminder on Day 17 on my calendar to SUCCEED – I will make an extra effort to pay attention and stay on track. These habits will stick!

Have you experienced the 17-day phenomenon with habits?


2 thoughts on “The magic number

  1. During my 30 paintings in 30 days challenge, my hardest time was around days 17-20. I was running out of ideas of things to paint. I also felt greater pressure to keep going as more and more people were looking forward to my daily posts. I pushed myself, physically and artistically, during that time. As a result, some of my most successful paintings of the series came from that struggle.

    • That’s exciting to hear that pushing through that hard time resulted in even better work. Very encouraging! Thanks for sharing!

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