Habit Stacking: Maximizing Your Positive Change
We all have things we want to change in our lives, but it feels so hard to do. If you're like me, you have so many changes you want to make that there's no way you have enough time to do it all! Or do you?
Imagine you have a 500 square foot room full from floor to ceiling with boxes that need to be moved. You have the option to move one box at a time, all by yourself, or to recruit a few other people to help you. Which do you choose? Unless you're extremely people adverse, the clear winner is to get a few people to help!
We all have habits we want to change - old habits we want to stop and new habits we wan to form. If each new habit were one of those boxes, and you were moving one box at a time, it gets very overwhelming to make consistent change. This is where habit stacking comes in.
Habit Stacking is a group of small, related habits that you chain together and incorporate into your daily routine. For example, if you want to get in the daily habit of reciting a positive mantra, and you also want to get in the habit of reading for 15 minutes each day, you can stack those with the habit you already have of brushing your teeth. It could look something like this: You go into the bathroom to brush your teeth and your positive mantra is taped to your bathroom mirror. You recite the mantra while brushing your teeth (or before, or after). Next to the sink, is the book you've been reading. You pick it up, go to the other room, and read for 15 minutes before returning the book back to it's home, next to your bathroom sink. Did you see how habit stacking helps create two new habits (reciting mantra and reading) by chaining them together with a current habit (brushing your teeth)?
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, gives a detailed approach to habit stacking. He explains how to get started and how to make it stick.
Here's the formula: AFTER/BEFORE [Current Habit] W Will [New Habit].
It's a very simple but effective way to stack habits and build the outcomes you're looking for in a faster timeframe.
Here are a few things to remember for habit stacking to really work for you:
Pick a block of time (i.e. right after I get out of bed I will make it, or right before I drink my morning coffee I will meditate for 5 minutes)
Pick a trigger - which is your current habit
Plan how you will stack the desired habit once you get the trigger (i.e. right after I come inside my house from work, I will hang up my keys)
Incorporate it into your daily routine
All you need to do now is pick which habit you want to start, which habit you want to chain it with, what time you'll be doing these habits each day, and you're off and running! Let me know how habit stacking is stacking up for you. I'd love to hear from you! :)