When I first started reading personal development books, several years ago, I wanted to transform my entire life overnight. I wanted a productive morning routine, a clean diet, perfect marriage, and consistent workout routine. After stumbling around for a few years failing at most of those, I realized it isn’t realistic to change your entire life overnight! Then I learned about habit stacking, and since then have seen some serious progress in my life!
I don’t remember where I originally heard about habit stacking – it could have been a podcast, book, or even a friend. But I know it’s become a pretty popular concept, and for good reason!
So many of us want to change everything overnight, but lack the discipline and motivation to do so.
That doesn’t make us weak or undetermined, it just makes us human!
WHAT IS HABIT STACKING?
There are lots of theories about habits. Some people believe it takes 21 days to develop a new habit while others say it’s upward to 3 months! I think we can all agree that a new habit isn’t developed in one day.
So then why are we disappointed with ourselves when we aren’t able to achieve all our habits in one day or even one week?
The basic concept with habit stacking is that we take an existing habit and add something new to it.
AFTER/BEFORE [CURRENT HABIT] I WILL [NEW HABIT]
So let’s say your goal is to take better care of your skin. Your habit stacking might look like:
AFTER I [BRUSH MY TEETH] I WILL [WASH MY FACE WITH COCONUT OIL]
The existing habit acts as a trigger so that you won’t forget about the new habit you want to implement!
Once you feel good about the new habit, you can stack another habit!
Now it might look like
AFTER I [WASH MY FACE WITH COCONUT OIL] I WILL [APPLY MOISTURIZER].
Can you see how this is much more effective than telling yourself you’re going to start taking care of your skin?!
PUT IT INTO PRACTICE
For years I desired a productive morning routine. I had read Miracle Morning and envied the person who can wake up at 5am and complete an in-depth, productive morning routine.
It looks something like this :
Get out of bed when my alarm clock goes off > walk to the kitchen for my Apple Cider Vinegar shot > Take shot > Drink lots of water to get rid of the taste (and to get my morning water) > Read the Bible > Check for urgent phone messages > Start working > Get dressed > Walk Dog
To take habit stacking a step further, I’ve put my own spin on it that I haven’t really heard others talk about! I’m going to call it GOAL STACKING
WHAT IS GOAL STACKING?
After a few years of trying to do all the things and failing, I knew I needed a new strategy.
I couldn’t try to change every aspect of my life at the same time.
So I realized I needed to focus on one goal at a time. This meant intentionally prioritizing certain things while NOT prioritizing others.
Once I got into a routine, I would add on another simple habit that helped me achieve another goal.
I focused on one goal at a time. Then once I had a grip on that, I added a new habit being sure I wasn’t dropping the previous one!
We want to achieve all of our dreams TODAY. Whether it’s losing weight, having a thriving marriage or running a successful business.
We don’t like waiting. We don’t like consistently taking action when we can’t see the results.
But I can promise you that those thing baby steps are what will get you to your goal.
A 48 hour juice cleanse isn’t going to get you to your weight goals. But months of consistently choosing nourishing foods over fast food will!
It’s never the short-lived radical behaviour that gets us where we want, but instead the small, consistent habits that we never give up on.
HABIT STACKING TAKES TIME
Habit stacking is not the quick way to achieve your goals. But it is an excellent way to ensure your habits are sustainable and actually stick!
It is a marathon, not a sprint.
At time it may even feel like you’re not doing enough because you only want to focus on one new habit at a time.
But trust the process, and keep chipping away at your goals. If you are consistent, and stick to this, you’ll not only achieve your goals but you’ll be able to sustain them!