Twenty-One Days to a Better Life

by Johnny Pain

Building an amazing life is all about habits.

Building a better body, developing a more rewarding professional life, and cultivating a more fulfilling relationship are examples of changes attributable to a series of actions taken over time.

None of these things will happen by accident, all require effort applied consistently over time. The development of habits is the most powerful tool that we have available to us in terms of taking action consistently.

A habit is a learned behavior that is replicated over and over to the point that it becomes involuntary in nature.

Most of us have some habits that we certainly would be well served with breaking, and many more that we would derive great benefit from adopting. One habit that I refer to frequently in my coaching is the simple act of brushing your teeth.

How long have you been doing this as one of your first actions in the morning?

How many decades have you performed this same action in virtually the same manner, day in, day out without much conscious thought driving you to do so?

That said, could you imagine breaking this habit “accidentally”? In other words, are you concerned that in ten years you may fall off of the wagon and become someone who sporadically brushes their teeth a few days per week?

My guess is no.

Now imagine if you had a habit of doing push-ups every night, or drinking a protein and carb shake first thing in the morning that was as deeply ingrained as the habit of brushing your teeth. Can you see how this might affect your appearance?

How about if you dedicated an hour each day to personal development or education in your area of professional pursuit? Might that influence your income over time?

It is easy to see how these simple actions can compound in time and serve as the process by which the desired events in the moment are created. Now let’s talk about a simple, dirty trick to get that habit built and get things moving in the right direction.

You want a new habit?

Do something every day for twenty-one days without missing a single day.

Yep, that simple.

Twenty-one days has long been recognized as the sort of “sweet spot” for habit creation. An action repeated daily for twenty-one days is very likely to become second nature and continued from there on.

The trick is getting over the hump where this activity is not involuntary and requires effort and conscious thought to execute. This is where many go wrong. They will start a new diet plan, program, savings strategy, etc. but will not make it to the three-week mark without interruption.

I have my clients physically mark off the days on a calendar on which they accomplished their assigned task when building a habit. Almost without fail, those who make it over the three-week hump report that the given action becomes simply “part of their day” and they do it “without even thinking about it”.

Once they’ve made it to that point, I know the new program is installed, and the results will follow.

Try it out; determine what you want as a habit and set out to complete the task every day for twenty-one days (no weekends off here). See if you aren’t satisfied with the result.

Later we’ll talk about how simple habit creation is the most powerful tool that we have in terms of developing the almighty siege engine momentum.

So what habits are you going to create this month?

Click Here to download my eBook “10 Habits for a More Successful Life”. In it I’ve outlined two habits from each major life category:

  • Body
  • Relationships
  • Career/Professional Life
  • Personal Finance
  • Mission

Pick this one up today and get to work putting these powerful tools to use.


Johnny Pain is the man behind as well as the East Coast’s notorious Greyskull Barbell Club and several other ventures. He is the author of several books on subjects pertaining to strength and conditioning. He can be found comically entertaining questions on his Q and A forum at or can be reached for consultations, training seminars, or speaking engagements at

Also, you can follow him on Twitter: @thejohnnypain


5 Responses

  1. Taylor

    Spot on.
    I’ve been doing Burpees every day since the 5th of August and I could not imagine skipping them now.
    I also cut out all grain based products, at the same time, and Like F’n Magic I no longer desire them.

    Thanks for all the lifestyle guidance you’ve provided.

    August 30, 2012 at 6:06 am

  2. Worth

    50 pushups every day is my goal. My wrestling coach always pleaded with me, “Worth, if you just did fifty pushups a day, you’d be a beast!”.

    I’d never done pushups unless it was during conditioning, even then I didn’t count my repetitions. In the Marines I did a pushup/press pyramid to help me with my pull-ups, it’d be nice to get back into that habit!

    September 1, 2012 at 9:47 am

  3. Michael

    This is just what I needed. Starting Friday, Sept. 7, strict wake-up times. No sleeping in or napping. Non-negotiable. Good article, John. –MikeChops

    September 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm

  4. Brandon

    I have a calendar in this house somewhere. I know because I got “guitar” calendar as a gift last Christmas. It’s still in the wrapper.

    Time to take it out of the wrapper. Thanks, John.

    September 7, 2012 at 12:11 am

  5. John

    I started doing push ups and chin ups every day.. I was doing chin ups everyday but sometimes skipping them, I’ll try to go the 21 days, just having that goal makes me want to do it.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:52 am

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