Happy new year! I wish you a prosperous and productive 2022. With it being a new year, a lot of us have undoubtedly started looking at which new habits we want to build this year. I’d like to help you make those habits stick by introducing you to a method that has helped me a lot: habit stacking!
What is habit stacking?
The term ‘Habit Stacking’ was coined by S.J Scott in his book: Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less. I learned about it from James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. The idea behind habit stacking is that you remove the high-level motivation needed to create new habits. This is achieved by stacking new habits onto existing habits you’ve already formed, making it easier to remember to do them.
Let’s say you want to start taking vitamins each morning. You start off motivated and the first couple of days go well. Soon, however, life starts getting in the way. First, you miss one day, later you miss a few in a row. A couple of weeks in and you’ve dropped the new habit entirely. You might feel like a failure, but don’t despair. Starting a new habit can be hard.
So how can habit stacking help you in this instance? Let’s say you can’t start your day without a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. You have it every single day, so that’s a strong existing habit of yours. A simpler way to ensure you take your vitamins each day would be to force yourself to take your vitamins in order to drink your morning coffee. It takes a little bit of discipline, but it’s significantly simpler than trying to remember to take the vitamins on their own.
Eventually, you won’t even need to stack the habits like this anymore. You’ll be used to taking vitamins each day and it will have become a habit.
My experience with habit stacking
I have a personal example of habit stacking working too. Anyone who knows me personally can attest to the fact that I have the worst cracked heels. By nature, my heels look terrible and they require daily care. A couple of years ago I started making an effort to treat my calloused heels every day.
Initially, I wanted to use a pumice stone and heel balm on my heels as one of my last tasks during the day before getting into bed. Like the example above, I started off strong but ended up not being nearly consistent enough.
I eventually turned to habit stacking to turn it around. I take a shower every single morning without fail – thankfully! Now I’ve stacked caring for my heels onto taking my morning shower. Every morning, while I’m in the shower, I use the pumice stone on my heels. Once I get out of the shower, I put heel balm on. The pumice stone is in the shower already, so when I’m in there I can’t help but notice it and it helps me to remember about my new habit. I barely have to think about it at all.
This has worked significantly better than any attempts I’ve made before and I’m currently building up quite the streak. All thanks to habit stacking.
Good luck with your goals for 2022! I hope you’ll be able to make habit stacking another ace up your sleeve to become the best, most productive version of yourself that you can be. If you do manage to implement habit stacking and it works for you, feel free to reach out on Twitter. I love stories of self-improvement!