A Sixty-Six Day Plan to Creating a Lifesaving Habit

Written by: USCCA

Carla Dickmann

Carla Dickmann (Facebook)

This article was authored by Carla Dickmann and is reprinted courtesy of Concealed Carry Magazine with permission of the United States Concealed Carry Association. All other rights reserved. For more information contact www.uscca.com.

SIXTY-SIX DAYS. That’s how long, on average, researchers have determined it takes people to develop a new habit. Gone are those sanguine promises of “21 days to a brighter smile” or “30 days to a whole new you.” Nope. Sixty-six days … because, well, science. In reality, Phillippa Lally, Psychologist at University College London, and her team discovered in 2009 that “the time it took participants to reach 95 percent of their asymptote of automaticity ranged from 18 to 254 days.” The study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, also determined that the complexity of the task or behavior that participants wanted to turn into a habit affected the amount of time necessary to “make it.”

So, drinking two glasses of water before breakfast might be a walk in the park, but carrying your firearm every day and trusting that you know how to use it if you need it? Well, we all know self-defense ain’t easy.

So, let me get straight to it: Is carrying your firearm a habit? Is drawing your firearm from concealment a habit? Is quickly accessing your firearm at night, from the safe if you have kids or maybe from the nightstand if you don’t, a habit?

I got to thinking about all this recently after I had the unique opportunity to participate in the USCCA’s Proving Ground video series as an unarmed subject in a workplace active shooter scenario. As soon as the first shots rang out, I hit the ground (“locked down,” as trainer Donna Anthony called it) and hid under my desk behind a cardboard box. And there I stayed, even as the shooter stopped to reload. And there I stayed, even as the shooter made eye contact and sent rounds my way. I felt like I was waiting to die (and, let’s be honest: If that were real life, I probably would have).

Afterward, when all of the participants were reviewing some of the available alternatives, I was pretty embarrassed but also astounded to discover that it would have taken all of three seconds to run right out the front door to safety.

So, here’s the lesson: Unless you’ve practiced — unless you’ve trained over and over and over again — you’re probably not going to react how you think you would. And I don’t know about you, but I find that absolutely terrifying.

It really sunk in as I was lying in bed a few nights later. I started thinking about what I would do if I heard glass breaking in my kitchen. I keep my firearm in a GunVault quick-access safe about 6 feet from my bed, but here’s the thing: I’ve never once practiced entering my five-digit combination under stress. And I’ve never once practiced entering that code in the dark. I mean, I think I’d be able to hop out of bed and have my gun in hand in three, four seconds — tops. But I’ve never practiced it, so that’s probably not at all how things would go down.

OK, so in that scenario, I’m probably dead. Now, that end result would have been devastating for my husband about three years ago, but there’s so much more at stake these days. See, here’s another frightening variable I hadn’t really considered until now: My 2-year-old daughter’s room is right down the hall.

In that same glass-breaking-in-thekitchen scenario, what if my maternal instincts kicked in and I ran to her room the minute I popped out of bed … without my gun? Do you see where I’m going with this?

There’s really only one way that I can guarantee I’m going to do what I think I would do — and that’s to practice what I actually need to do … over and over and over again. Sixty-six times — maybe more. And then, still, over and over and over again to make sure the habit I’ve created doesn’t become something I “used to do.”

So, I’ll ask you again: Do you have a plan? And have you practiced it? Have you made self-defense training a habit? If your answer is no, you’ve got some work to do. I’ve got some work to do too. What do you say we start right now, together, at Day 1? I know it’s a big commitment, but if you don’t make self-defense a habit, you might not be around to regret it.


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