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I want you to consider for a moment that all of your results in life can be traced back to habits. Personal and Professional habits.
If that is true then your results can change by changing your habits, that’s the good news.
There are so many ways to create new habits and ditch the old ones but today I want to talk about ONE particular technique that is super helpful when it comes to adding a new habit to your life and also bringing awareness to habits that aren’t serving you and that is called “Habit Stacking”.
When I first heard about habit stacking I was reading a book about habit formation and I wanted to see if it worked. So I tried it in my own life and I immediately recognized it’s worth to be extremely valuable as a technique. I was also able to look at some habits that I hadn’t yet shed and see that they did in fact stack with other not so good habits and they did and so the outcome of using habit stacking intentionally and being aware of what habit stacking is has brought huge benefits to my life.
I started using it with my clients and many of them have had incredible success with it, especially with stubborn habits that they’ve fallen short of in the past.
What is habit stacking – well just as it sounds it’s when you stack together a new habit with an already well established habit or set of habits for greater results and to increase the chances of that new habit sticking.
Now habit stacking can either be intentional in nature or unintentional.
When these are good habits the results are great and when it’s bad habits the results will compound in the opposite direction and become not so great.
Generally speaking I find that people intentionally stack good habits together when they want a real change, a lifelong change.
So let’s look at some examples.
If you have a morning routine that brings you a lot of health, mental well being and physical wellbeing, there are most likely two or more habits stacked together that support each other and work together to create a great result.
For example you might be in the habit of journaling every morning, and then practicing gratitude and then planning your day under a clear and positive mindset.
If you are in the habit of rushing out of bed at the last minute, stressing about today’s plans and then attempting to plan your day it may all feel like you’re walking in quick sand to get the job. And your mindset isn’t feeling very positive, there is a pretty good chance that you’re going to struggle to get things done.
Both are morning habits, one is very intentional and the other is a product of not being intentional and forgetting that you can change that habit if you choose. In both cases the good habits stack and the bad habits are stacked for greater results in either direction.
You might even go so far as to say that the person doing the better morning routine might even eat a healthier breakfast and the person feeling stressed and behind by 9am might grab something that isn’t the best for them most days.
Another example is the end of day or evening habits. Maybe you have the habit of eating later in the evening and it stacks with other habits of drinking too much hot chocolate or pop, all that sugar doesn’t go well in your body, and may even cause you problems when it comes to sleeping.
The first step to changing anything is awareness.
Are you aware of where you are stacking good habits together and where you might be unintentionally stacking bad habits together.
Write down your daily routines in detail, and habits just bullet form in chronological order for a normal work day, and you’ll easily see where you’re stacking good habits together and where you are not.
When you write this list, do it in excruciating detail. Everything you do is habit, the way you wake up – via alarm, do you snooze it 3 times, do you get up immediately. Do you shower, wash your face, brush your teeth, eat breakfast immediately, workout, meditation, journal, have a coffee?
Once you have your list let’s think about a new habit that you want to include in your day or week, maybe one that you’ve been struggling to include and have it stick. I want you to stack it in the most logical place with other good habits.
I’ve been wanting to get back to working out daily, I only have 20-30 mins to workout and yet I haven’t been doing it and that’s because I don’t particularly love working out.
So when I look at my daily routines, my best time to include a 20 min workout is the morning, first thing in the morning, before I meditate. I meditate daily and usually I do for about an hour. So what I’ve decided to do is shorten my meditation time to 30 mins and workout before I meditate. I think this will work well to make this workout habit stick better than it has before.
Once you have your new habit, preferably a daily one or one that is done multiple times a week and you’ve found the best place to stack it with other habits for success. You can start putting that habit into practice, now it’s time to look at the list you made and see where you might have some bad habits stacked together. And the awareness here is that your bad habits are much harder to break if they are stacked with other bad habits. But pull one bad habit and the other one will most likely fall as well.
For e.g. You pour yourself a big glass of wine every night, and that triggers a habit of snacking on meat and cheese or chips and dip.
When you use habit stacking to create new great habits, each good habit then becomes a trigger for another good habit, and before long you’re a good habit making machine!
Every action you take, every thought you have are habits, habits formed from your programming old and new. Habits are either going to compound in interest you owe or interest you’ve earned. Nothing in between.