Why It's So Important To Never Miss Two Days In A Row When Building Good Habits

While most of us have heard that it takes 21 days to build a new habit (although science suggests it's closer to 59), a lesser-known — but just as important — rule to keep in mind is to never miss two days in a row when building that new habit. Sounds simple enough, right? However, it can be harder than you think, especially if your new habit takes more time out of your day (like implementing a new skincare routine) or is physically strenuous (like a new workout routine). It can be easy to tell yourself you just need a small break in order to keep going — and that's where the two-day rule comes in.

The Two-Day Rule has gained popularity thanks to Matt D'Avella, a documentary filmmaker whose 2019 YouTube video on the subject currently has over 4 million views. In it, he describes that even if you miss a day of a new habit you're trying to accomplish, you should never skip a second day. According to D'Avella, that makes it even easier to skip a third or fourth day, a week, or even a month, thereby forgetting about the behavior you were trying to pursue in the first place. 

While the concept has been around for a long time, D'Avella's video has been credited with giving the concept new life and has helped people with forming new habits, productivity, and self-motivation ever since. Let's dive into the two-day rule and see if it could help you accomplish your goals.

Why it's important to never skip two days

It's only human to miss a day, especially when it comes to a new behavior you might not be comfortable with yet. The good news is that research suggests that skipping a single day of a new behavior does not have any significant impact on our ability to form that habit. This single-day grace period allows us to have our inevitable off days without ruining all of our progress. However, this is where it gets tricky since skipping two days can be a slippery slope to quitting altogether.

The more you allow yourself to skip your new habit, the harder it is to return to it. This can lead to not just a failure to implement a new behavior that you were interested in but can also lead to personal disappointment. With that being said, if you slip off the wagon of your new behavior, it can serve as a great learning opportunity. It's important to ask yourself why you skipped two days of (or maybe never returned to) a new behavior you tried to implement. Maybe your new vitamins didn't work for you, maybe the scheduling was off at the gym, or maybe you didn't love the products for your new skincare routine. Whatever the reason, it's important to analyze it so you can possibly adjust and re-try the behavior. By giving yourself the ability to try again, you can learn from your mistakes and hopefully develop a new habit you're excited about.

How to stay on track when forming a new habit

Staying motivated can be incredibly difficult, which is what ultimately leads people to quit. A study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that one of the best ways to ensure you stick to and build a habit is to incorporate new behaviors into existing routines and time cues. For instance, making sure you always apply facial sunscreen right after washing your face every morning can better ensure you increase your sunscreen habit. Since you already have the habit of washing your face, this new behavior is added to an existing habit rather than creating something new entirely. This can increase your chances of succeeding.

Another way to help improve your habit-forming is to think about potential rewards for doing so. This can be a helpful way to ensure you continue your commitment to a new pattern or behavior. This can also be closely tied to monitoring, which has been proven to increase habit formation. If there is no one to monitor your new behavior, self-reporting can be a great way to do this for yourself. For instance, if you're looking to add a new workout routine to your schedule, consider downloading a fitness app or using social media as a way to hold yourself accountable for your new habit. You can then reward yourself for reaching certain milestones, such as logging into the fitness app or completing a workout for a certain length of time.