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Stack Habits and Change Your Life

"The quickest way to build a new habit into your life is to stack it on top of a current habit." – James Clear

One of my favorite children's books is "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," which teaches cause and effect. Giving the mouse the cookie triggered an entire chain of events. The same applies to habit stacking. It is easier to make permanent changes in your life and build new habits if you attach them to the good habits you already have.

A morning routine of habit stacking might look something like this:

Make your bed.

Make a cup of coffee.

Mediate and read.

Write in my gratitude journal.

Complete a word puzzle.

Study a new language for 15 minutes.

By stacking these habits together at the beginning of the day, you complete them and feel accomplished daily. In addition, depending on the habits, there are the added benefits of growing, remaining sharp and building a new way of life. After all, you can't learn a new language in 15 minutes, but you can learn a new language if you study it every day for years.

There are many examples of habits we have stacked together without intentionally thinking about them. For example, many people already have a bedtime routine they follow each night. They may take their vitamins, wash their face, apply lotion, and brush their teeth. These habits, together, form promote good health.

Start by selecting a well-ingrained habit you already have. You do not want to make a list of new habits you want to start and then try to do them all together without adding them to well-established habits in your life. Your current habits should serve as the foundation for the new habits.

A scheduled time may not be the best trigger for a new habit. It is easier to create a new habit, like walking or stretching every day if you attach it to a current habit instead of setting a time. For example, you may walk for thirty minutes and then stretch after dinner. The trigger for the exercise is another habit, dinner, instead of a specific time of the day. Adding another habit, like stretching after your walk, is even better.

To be successful in changing your habits long-term, you must be persistent. Habit stacking makes it easy to continue by adding a new habit onto a well-established habit.

You must also be intentional about the habits you stack together to make a change. Think about your goals and small steps you can take to reach them. Then, start the process of habit stacking, one habit at a time. A small step today and the days to come will lead to changes you dream of.

There are many books and articles on habit stacking to learn more.

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