A few weeks ago we talked about how building habits is truly the only way to achieve long term success. Motivation will undoubtedly come and go, but leaning on habits and principles to reach your goals is absolutely necessary.
Today we’re going to talk about habit stacking, a simple and easy way for you to build habits and stick to them.
A study done at Oxford University in 2007 showed that newborn babies have 41% more neurons than adults. The conclusion they came to was that this was because babies are essentially a blank canvas, open to all neural connections. As we age, the connections we use become stronger, and the ones we don’t “prune” away.
Everyday there are tons of habits you carry out. Tying your shoes, making a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, taking your work clothes off, walking your dog, etc etc etc. There are hundreds of things you do daily which you’ve built strong neural connections for. Habit stacking uses those habits and connections you’ve already built to your advantage.
Sometimes if we pair a new habit with a new time and a new location or scenario, we often don’t build a strong enough connection to make it stick. However, if you pair the new habit with a behavior that already has a strong existing connection, you will essentially cue yourself to perform the new habit and have better success sticking to it! This is habit stacking.
The formula for habit stacking is as follows:
AFTER/BEFORE (insert current habit), I will (insert new habit)
After I start my coffee, I will put my workout clothes on.
Before I walk the dog, I will read for 10 minutes.
After I brush my teeth, I will tell my wife/husband I love her/him.
After I finish dinner, I will put my food from the day into myfitnesspal
After I shower, I will prep my clothes for the next day.
Once you get good at this you may even start linking habits together to create a morning or evening routine
Say you want to incorporate reading and meditation into your morning routine and this is what you currently do: Wake up > Make bed > Shower > Make Coffee > Go to work
To habit stack this you will do something like:
After I wake up, I will make my bed.
After I make my bed, I will place a book next to the coffee machine.
After I place my book, I will shower.
After I shower, I will meditate for 60 seconds.
After I meditate I will make coffee.
After I make coffee, I will read for 10 minutes
After I read, I will head to work.
If you want to give this a shot follow the steps below!
- Make a list of all the habits you already do daily
- Pick a behavior you want to make a habit.
- Be very clear about the details around the habit. Be specific about when, and how you will perform the behavior.
- Stack it on top of something that makes sense for your routine!
Try adding in 1 habit this week that you’ve tried to do before but could never stick to. Stack it on top of something you are really good at doing daily and see how it goes!