Work your way towards a healthier lifestyle, one new habit at a time!
We all have goals. And while those goals are going to be vastly different, varying from person to person, one thing will remain the same: To reach your goals, you must develop habits that will help you get there. If you’re actively working towards something, chances are good that you’ve already developed some habits. But, if we’re being honest, many of us admit that we still aren’t working to our full potential. I know I’m guilty of this, so I’m constantly searching for ways to do better and be better. This is how I came across habit stacking!
What is Habit Stacking?
Building a habit begins with making a choice. You have to make that choice every single day, and sometimes multiple times per day. Eventually, you won’t even have to think about it because it will just come naturally. What is a choice that comes naturally? A habit!
The habit stacking strategy moves beyond this. Once you’ve built one habit, you add a new behavior on top of that to build another.
I’ll use myself as an example. I wanted to start drinking more water every day, so I built a habit of drinking a full glass as soon as I woke up. I’ll be honest, it was a pretty easy habit to build. I highly recommend trying it! Something I’ve always struggled with though is remembering to take my multivitamin. For whatever reason, I could never be consistent with it. That is until I came across habit stacking.
It occurred to me that I already drink a full glass of water in the morning, so why not stack the habit of taking my multivitamin at the same time? Every morning, I grab my vitamins before I fill my glass. Here I am a few months later, and I haven’t missed a day yet! It works, it really does!
How Do I Stack Habits?
The habit stacking process is made up of four basic steps:
1. Write Down Your Current Habits.
Think about habits you already perform every day. You wake up, brush your teeth, make coffee, cook breakfast, pack your lunch, drive to school or work, exercise, shower, make dinner, check out social media, etc. The list could go on and on. The first step is to write these current habits down!
2. Write Down New Habits You’d Like to Learn.
Now that you have your current habits list, think about the habits you’d like to build. Maybe you want to drink more water or take a multivitamin. Perhaps you want to become more flexible, eat healthier, get more organized, become a better budgeter, or go to bed earlier. Jot down each one of these goal habits.
3. Attach the Habits that Make the Most Sense.
Let’s say you already have a habit of packing your lunch, but you’d like to eat healthier. Maybe your new habit could be to add a serving of veggies and/or fruit to every lunch you pack. Attaching those habits makes a lot of sense (a lot more sense than attaching packing your lunch and improving flexibility, for example).
That’s what I mean when I say to attach the habits that fit together! If you want to get more flexible, work on building a habit of stretching for 5 to 10 minutes after the workouts you already perform throughout the week.
This is definitely the hardest (and most important) step. It’s one thing to talk about building habits and habit stacking, and it’s another thing to actually do it! Make the choice every single day, and it will get easier and easier.
One of my favorite quotes is from American self-help author, Robert Collier. He said,
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
The more habits you can create and stick to, no matter how small, the more successful you will be!
Apply this Strategy to Any Part of Your Life
Habit stacking is a method that you can apply to pretty much any facet of life. Here are some more examples:
Stick to a Budget – While you’re eating breakfast, listen to an audiobook or podcast about improving your finances. Or read five pages of a personal finance book. Another easy habit is to review your recent credit card transactions every morning to make sure you’re staying within your budget.
Improve Your Study Habits – While you’re studying, put your phone in the other room so you’re not tempted to look at it. Set a timer to take a break every 30 to 60 minutes to give your eyes a short rest.
Boost Productivity at Work – Before you leave the office for the day, spend two minutes clearing your desk of clutter. That way, when you come in the next morning, your workspace will be organized and ready for you! Set a timer to do a lap around the office every 60 to 90 minutes to clear your mind, too.
Develop Better Organizational Skills or Cleaning Habits – Make your bed right after you wake up. While dinner is cooking, put all of the clean dishes away and wipe down the counter. After you brush your teeth at night, lay out your clothes for the next morning.
Get More Exercise – Make it a habit to park in the farthest spot in the lot, or take the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator any time that you can. If you workout in the morning, put your workout clothes on right away. If you exercise in the evening, change into them as soon as you get home from work or school. Or better yet, bring them with you and drive straight to the gym. Going home first can tempt you into skipping, but going straight there will remove the temptation!
What Habits Are YOU Going to Stack?
We want to hear about it! Let us know what habits you’re going to stack in the comment section. We’re always open to new ideas, and sharing yours might help someone else! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.
Remember, small changes can produce huge results over time. So get to stacking those habits!