Creating Routines With Habit Stacking

As we enter the new year, most of us have set intentions and goals that we will be working towards this year. And one of the best ways to help accomplish what we set out to do is by creating routines and habits that help us stay on track.

According to James Clearly, author of Atomic Habits, habit stacking is a special form of an implementation intention. Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit. This method, which was created by BJ Fogg as part of his Tiny Habits program, can be used to design an obvious cue for nearly any habit.

The reason habit stacking works so well is that your current habits are already built into your brain. You have patterns and behaviors that have been strengthened over years. By linking your new habits to a cycle that is already built into your brain, you make it more likely that you’ll stick to the new behavior.

The formula is: BEFORE/AFTER I (current habit), I WILL (new habit).

For example, if I have health related goals this year, my habit stacking may look like this:

  • Before I drink my herbal tea, I will put on my workout clothes.
  • After I eat breakfast, I will take my supplements.
  • Before each meal, I will drink a glass of water.
  • Before bed each evening, I will plan out my meals and snacks for the following day.

Before long, these new habits are part of my daily routine.

This is so much more effective than just trying to change everything at once. Once you have mastered this basic structure, you can begin to create larger stacks by chaining small habits together. This allows you to take advantage of the natural momentum that comes from one behavior leading into the next.

Give it try, you may find yourself making beneficial changes in your life. If you do, let me know how habit stacking works for you!

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