Phillippa Lally and the Number of Days to Form a Habit

Common consensus seems to suggest that it either takes 21 days or 30 days to form a habit.

Based on my own observations, this is clearly not true - and Philippa Lally’s study in the European Journal of Social Psychology seems to suggest otherwise.

The study analyzes a group, has them perform various tasks, and asks them at what level of of automaticity they are at with these tasks every day.

The study suggests that some tasks take less time and some tasks more time before they are considered a habit, but the average is 66 days.

This brings up a number of interesting points:

1. Perhaps I should use an index like she did in order to assess my level of habituation for any given task.

2. Perhaps programs like Level Me Up, which use a number of hours to determine mastery, are not as good as a program that functions by checking out a daily practice of a skill. I’ve already begun to have doubts about Level Me Up - this might be it’s death knell.

3. What are the tasks that are easier and take longer to form into habits? I’m assuming this has to do with those that take more willpower. If habituation can be indexed by a questionnaire, perhaps I could come up with a willpower index in order to attempt to find some sort of correlation between willpower expenditure and “automaticity” - what the studies are using as the technical term for the progression of habit formation.

This is some really exciting stuff, because it’s the first real testing as to the mechanics of habit formation in scientific conditions.