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Behavioural Change in 66 days

John Walsh

According to Phillipa Lally, Health Psychology Researcher at UCL published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

“On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behaviour, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit”

This sheds new light on how we support people through change. Based on our work and experience with over 30+ complex mega projects our successes were where we supported the senior team on a regular focused basis. This ranged from interventions once a month to once every six weeks and we stayed with them in some cases 2- 4 years. Clearly some people take the full 254 days to change. Our few failures came where we ran one-off “team building” workshops with no follow up and no measurement (no wonder they failed).

In conclusion, if we need to change behaviours we need to set up a support system/interventions that supports the people going through change on regular intervals for at least 66 days, but be mindful of the fact that some people will take 254 days to change.





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