Many times we try again and again to form a new habit that we know when integrated in our daily routine will help us elevate ourselves and our interior empires. But in spite of our good intentions, we fail. A great and effective way to build a new habit is to couple it with an old habit that is well established and has deep neural grooves in your brain. This way of building a new habit by identifying an ongoing habit that is well-integrated in our daily routine, and stacking our new behavior on top of it, is called habit stacking.
This method was created by BJ Fogg as part of his Tiny Habits program and is explored further in James Clear’s book Atomic Habits.
The reason habit stacking works so brilliantly is because our current habits are already well established in our brain. We simply can’t not do them. When we couple a new habit to an old one, we integrate it into the habit loop as well, making it next to impossible not to do it over time. As we get a better grasp over habit stacking, with time we are able to link multiple small habits together. We are able to use the momentum that we gather from one habit or behavior to propel the following habit, ensuring we are able to fulfill the daily commitments that we set out for.
These habit stacks work great for designing our morning and evening routines, essentially acting as bookends for our days. They work like a charm in our professional and personal day-to-day life as well and help us integrate some small life-changing habits that may lead to big outcomes via the Compound Effect.
Here are some examples of habit stacking:
- After pouring your morning coffee, starting with your writing session.
- After finishing your dinner, putting your plates in the dishwasher.
- After taking a shower, journaling for 5 to 10 minutes.
- After taking off your work shoes, immediately changing into your gym clothes.
- After getting into your car for your daily commute, playing a self-development audiobook or podcast.
As we engage in habit stacking, it’s in our best interest to be as specific as we can. Hazy commitments lead to hazy outcomes. Instead of ‘reading more’, commit to reading for 10 minutes immediately after your morning meditation session. Instead of ‘doing push-ups’, commit to doing 50 push-ups right after getting to the gym. Specific and clear habits lead to crystallized results. And the smoother the integration between your current habit and an old one, the better your chances are to follow through with the new habit.
We all want to build better habits, but without a foolproof strategy we all get subdued by the daily rhythms of life. With habit stacking, you’ll be able to use those same rhythms for your personal and professional success. It’ll not only help you enhance your mental and physical performance and well-being, but it’ll also give you the unfair advantage that you’ve been looking for.