"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it." –Margaret Thatcher
Oh, man. Yep, Maggie Thatcher nailed it. I made it through most of January painting or drawing every day, but then it all just fell apart. I needed a break because I wasn’t feeling well, so I took a day off. Then another one. And another. Then? Suddenly more than two weeks had passed.
Is painting every day something I believe in, and something I want to do? Absolutely. It’s very important to me. Now, I have to just let my lapse go, move on, and re-start painting every day. Fight the battle again. (The ones I've finished since I re-started are above.)
A lot of people online say that it only takes a couple weeks or a month to build any habit. However, studies have shown that it’s actually a lot more complicated than that.
The time it takes to build a habit depends on how complex the habit is. Drinking more water every day is pretty easy, so it may take just a couple weeks to make that kind of change stick.
Habits with more steps, or that require a lot of little changes to create something bigger, can take more than 200 days to a year. It all depends on the person, their lifestyle, their current habits, what else in their life has to change to accommodate the new habit, if they're giving something up as well as doing something new, etc. There are a lot of factors involved!
Knowing that new habits can take almost a year to stick helps. I feel less like I failed and more like I’m just on a long path and I’ll get to the end eventually. This is a momentary lapse – just a blip in the overall scheme of things. I’ll redouble my efforts and get back to it.
I know there’ll still be times when I’ve spent the day weaving and designing textiles and I’m tired and the last thing I want to do is paint. But I have to just do it, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. And if I do truly need a day off, take it. But start back up the next day, not two weeks later.
It’s going to be a journey with some winding roads and some short stops and starts, but I’ll get there. I’ll be experimenting with my timing. Maybe waiting till the end of the day is counter-productive. Maybe mid-afternoon is better. Or even morning. And I’ll be looking at triggers – certain actions that I always take to get ready to paint. I’ve read that having consistent triggers can really help create new habits. I’ll let you know what I figure out!