According to this study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, a habit can take from 18 to 254 days to form. However, many other studies suggest around 21 to 30 days is adequate for most to pick up a habit.
It’s for this reason we see excellent initiatives like the “Whole 30” (link), and Mark Sisson’s “21 Day Primal Blue Print Challenge” (link) to name a few . These are all designed to turn a new behaviour into a life long habit. However, there is another interesting variation to add to the habit forming arsenal. It’s called a 100 Day Gong and it’s being popularised by Pedram Shojai who is a Qi Gong master, herbalist, and acupuncturist.
Pedram suggests it takes 90 days to really burn a behaviour into a habit, and applies the 100 day gong technique from his taoist teachings. The idea is that you write down a healthy behaviour you want to become a habit, e.g. A minimum of 20 minutes of yoga every morning within the first 1 hour of getting up. You perform that task every day for 100 days, and if you miss even just one day, even at day 99, you have to start again and repeat, until you succeed in 100 days straight.
Whilst this technique can be used for any habit, and some people prefer swinging for large & audacious goals, I prefer small and easy to reach habits. I find they are much easier to get started every day, can still be performed when short of time, and I always end up over performing. I call this the MDR – or Minimum Daily Requirement. Going over is fine, but anything less restarts the 100 day gong.
Another great benefit of the 100 day gong is that it will have a positive knock on effect in other areas of your life. Your willpower and self organisational will grow, and spontaneously throughout the day you will find yourself performing other good habits. As the days progresses, the anticipation and excitement grows too as you look forward to completing the habit.
I like to set my gong habits for the 1st hour I wake up. This is the hour in the day I have the most control over, and I am less likely to miss it due to being busy later in the day. I also find it sets the tone for my day. When I start my day with good healthy habits, it usually continues throughout my day. This is also why I enjoy early morning activities which activate my parasympathetic nervous system. The early morning calmness is more likely to stay with me.
Some of my favourite morning practices include: gentle exercise e.g. Yoga, meditation, box breathing, visualisation & affirmations, and gratefulness. However, you can choose anything you want for any time of the day.
On his website, Pedram has a free download pdf of a 100 day gong grid. This can be put on the wall and marked off each day. Link Here. You can also listen to Pedram discuss the 100 day gong in more detail with Dave Asprey at Bullet Proof Radio. Link Here. He also runs a regular podcast called “Health Bridge” with Dr. Sara Gottfried (link).