Missing Practice

Today, I missed my morning run. I could not wake up at 5:00am. I woke up at 6:00am. Things started getting delayed from that point onwards. Since I did not wake up on time, I could not go out for my run. One thing got delayed after the other. I had to miss few things and adjust or cut short many others. My morning routine was completely off schedule.

Now, I am not so much bothered by my morning routine going haywire. The best thing about a morning routine is that there is always the next day! But what I am interested is in understanding how missing practice affects the process of habit creation. Researchers say, it takes at least 21 days of consistent practice to set a new habit. But missing the practice for 2-3 days can be detrimental to the effort of establishing a new habit.

Consistent practice is needed to form new habits. Some say, the practice should be done for 21 days, some day 30 days and some other says 66 days. But missing the practice consecutively for 2 to 3 days, brings one back to the old routine. This happens mostly in the initial phase of habit creation when you are still trying to internalize the habits.

In the initial phases, there is a tussle between your old ways of doing things and the new habit that you are trying to establish. You have to spend high amount of will power to set up a new habit. When you keep doing something new, you are basically setting up new neural pathways, and ignoring the old neural pathways in your brain. Daily practice strengthens the new neural pathways. It is needed on a daily basis, until the habits become self sustaining, i.e you do not have to expend will power to do it. But, when you skip the practice, the daily reinforcement of the new neural pathway does not happen. Missing practice consecutively makes the old neural pathways takeover and then you tend to revert to old routine. To come out, you have to expend more will power than it would have been if you had not skipped practice.

I so wish I would have woken up at 5:00 am today.


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