Habit stacking — create your perfect routine
Forming and creating new habits can be quite challenging. But it’s even harder to build a consistent routine. You probably have a lot of behavioral patterns that you’re not aware of. For example, you might make yourself a morning cup of coffee after you wake up. You also probably, and hopefully, wash your hands whenever you use the bathroom. This type of behavior is automatic and you do it without thinking. And there are probably thousands of other daily habits that you currently have, even if you’re not aware of them. But you can take advantage of these already formed behaviors to create new habits. The method I’ll be talking about is called habit stacking. I’ve used this technique to turn reading and piano playing into a habit, which are now both part of my daily routine. And after this video you should be able to do the same for your desired behaviors. So how can you use habit stacking? Firstly, you need to identify a current habit that you do every single day. It could be anything, as long as you perform it consistently.
Secondly, you add or “stack” a new habit on top of it. For example here are 3 habits you might already be doing: Taking a shower. Making a cup of coffee. Turning off your computer. And here’s a list of 3 new habits you might like to implement: Meditation. Exercise. Playing an instrument. Now what you do is link your new habit with an already existing one. And you use the stacking formula, which looks like this: After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]. Using our previous examples, it should look something along these lines: After I take a shower, I will meditate for 2 minutes. After I make a cup of coffee, I will do 5push-ups. After I turn off my computer, I will play a song on the piano. Essentially what you’re doing is making an existing habit into trigger for a new one. And the key word here is “after”. Because what you’re doing is linking your new habit, after an existing one. You might be wondering why you would want to meditate for only 2 minutes, do only 5 push-ups or play only one song. It might seem like doing something so minimal is not even worth it. But the point of any habit, is to make it a habit in the first place. Sure, the end goal might be to meditate for30 minutes, or practice an instrument or go to the gym for 1 hour. But if you can’t even bring yourself to exercise for 30 seconds and do a few push-ups, can you really expect yourself to go to the gym and workout for 1 hour? Of course not. That’s why the idea here is to learn to do the bare minimum first, so you can form an actual habit over time. So when you stack a habit on top of another one, make sure it’s a small habit that is manageable. Once you start being consistent you can build and expand upon it.
Now I suggest you make a list of all the little habits you already perform throughout, each and every day. Then you can begin your search to find the best place to layer your new habit into your lifestyle. Here are some examples of daily actions to make the search easier for you: Turning off the alarm. Getting out of bed. Taking a shower. Brushing your teeth. Checking the phone. Getting dressed. Eating a meal. Making a cup of tea. Laying on the couch. The list could go on and on. Now whichever behavior is the most fitting for your new habit, just add “after” and “I will” behind it. For example: After laying on the couch, I will read 3 pages of a book. Once you master the basics of habit stacking, the next step is to start stacking your stacks. Basically you chain numerous habits together, each one acting as the trigger for the next. This step will allow you to create an actual routine for yourself. Let me give you an example: After I turn off the computer, I will play anything on the piano for at least 2 minutes. This is one basic stack, but the let’s keep on building upon it. After I’m done playing the piano, I will plan out the next day. After I’m done planning, I will read a minimum of 3 pages of a book. After I’m done reading, I will go brush my teeth. See what I did there? I chained stand alone habit stacks together. Forming one big stack. And this is actually my very own stack that is a part of my evening routine.
Here’s another example of a possible chain of different stacks: After I wake up, I will drink a glass of water. After I drink water, I will meditate for 2minutes. After I’m done meditating, I will prepare myself a cup of coffee. And after I make myself coffee, I will exercise for 5 minutes. You see where this is going. However you need to be aware of a possible pitfall here. Since your trigger for each habit is another habit, you need to make sure that you begin with that very first behavior. If not, your whole stack might fall apart. That’s why it’s important that you first stack your behaviors on top of the habits you’re already doing each and every day without fail. Only then should you start chaining different stacks. Habit stacking can feel overwhelming at first. However, once you get started and do it a few times, it’s not as hard as you think.
The key to success here is to start with small expectations, slowly build up the habit of completing your routine, and then add more tasks once you’re consistent. And it’s really important to make the habits so tiny, that you’ll be able to do it, no matter how tired or unmotivated you are. Remember, the point is to make your habits, actual habits. And by doing something so minuscule you will be planting the seed for consistency. Now I highly recommend you try out habit stacking yourself. It’s my go-to technique whenever I want to adjust or create a new routine. Hopefully after watching this video, you’ll be using it yourself.
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