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Easiest way to build new habit – Habit stacking

Photo by Daryl Baird on Unsplash

Are you like me, eager to build good habits? Or have tried many ways to develop the habit but still stumbling in creating one? Maybe making it work for the first week then eventually falling off the track after two weeks or so.

There is one approach that can help you develop the habit that you want on an easier way.

Have you ever heard about habit stacking? If you wanted to develop good habits, habit stacking is the best way to start it. It will help you develop habits a lot easier than what we used to know. But before anything else what is “Habit Stacking”?

WHAT IS HABIT STACKING?

Jame clear defined habit stacking as;

… 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.”

This just simply means that new habits can be paired with existing habits to make it easier to build.

Habit stacking is scientifically proven as it is being powered by the Synaptic Pruning;

“Synapses are connections between the neurons in your brain. The basic idea is that your brain prunes away connections between neurons that don’t get used and builds up connections that get used more frequently.”

This is best described by a person who played guitar since when they were a child than someone who just started playing it a couple of months ago. It can be conclusive that someone who played the guitar since when they were young can play better than those who just started a few months ago, as their brain has already been wired in doing this skill long enough for them to master the skill of playing a guitar.

For a more scientific explanation, Heathline defines it as;

“… as the brain’s way of removing connections in the brain that are no longer needed. Researchers have recently learned that the brain is more “plastic” and moldable than previously thought. Synaptic pruning is our body’s way of maintaining more efficient brain function as we get older and learn new complex information.”

This helps our brain to efficiently function as we are constantly being exposed to all the information from our environment that our brain needs to process.

HOW IT CAN HELP YOU CREATE NEW HABIT?

By doing the habit stacking you will significantly increase the likelihood that a new habit will stick as you are associating it with an old habit that you already imparted with your life. As we understand with common mistakes with building habit, we normally don’t have any plans or was not able to make it very clear for us to stick to it until the habit that we are building has been imparted to our life.

HOW TO DO HABIT STACKING?

To do the habit stacking, it just have a very easy formula:

HABIT STACKING = AFTER / BEFORE [ CURRENT HABIT ], I WILL [ NEW HABIT ]

The example of this are the following:

  • After I drink my coffee in the morning, I will read a book for 15 minutes.
  • After my office hours at 5:00PM, I will do 50 push-up.
  • Before I open my laptop in the morning, I will write my to-do list.
  • After I wake up, I will do my 10 minutes meditation.

You can do a lot of things with this habit stacking, for you to easily build the desired habit that you wanted. The best thing about this stacking is you can add more new habit in the loop, that’s why it was called habit stacking.

Below is the simple formula for this:

HABIT STACKING = AFTER / BEFORE [ CURRENT HABIT ], I WILL [ NEW HABIT ], THEN [ NEW HABIT ]

Using the same example from above:

  • After I drink my coffee in the morning, I will read a book for 15 minutes, then I will write in my gratitude journal.
  • After my office hours at 5:00PM, I will do 50 push-ups, then I will do 5 curl-ups.
  • Before I open my laptop in the morning, I will write my to-do list, then I will put my phone away from me (to avoid any distractions).
  • After I wake up, I will do my 10 minutes meditation, then I will take a shower.

The additional habit helps you create a loop that allows you to easily build new habit using your old one as an anchor or cue in doing it.

THINGS TO CONSIDER IN HABIT STACKING

1. Cue or trigger

One of the most important things to consider here is identifying the cue or trigger. This should be something that you commonly do even without realizing it. This will help you easily remember the next loop or habit that you are building. As discussed by James Clear, it would be better to write all of these and choose from it.

2. Be more precise

Ensure that you will make the habit that you are building as precise as possible. It will help you make it stick a lot easier and avoid any resistance from doing it. For example, if you wanted to build the habit of reading a book. I suggest that you should set a specific number pages that you have to read or how long you planned to read. This will help you avoid any problems in building the new habit.

If you didn’t make it clear chances are you won’t be able to do your new habit and possibly, you will just procrastinate from doing it.

3. Take it easy!

Don’t expect that just because you already associated it with your old habit you can simply just make it part of your lifestyle. At the end of the day, everything will take some time especially for building good habits. Don’t overdo it and stack 5 habits on your first week. You must understand that it will take some time before you effectively do it.

Learn that habit is all about making it part of your lifestyle and no one could ever build a habit by doing it in a week or a few days. Give it some time as habits are not formed thru intensity of building it but more so of consistency in doing it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I may have tried making it seemingly simple but you have to understand that this is not the only way to build new habits. It may be one of the easiest but all of these will still require self discipline to consistently build it. Try everything and see what works and what doesn’t, tweak how others do their habit building process and make it your own. At the end of the day, it is all about improving your life through building of good habits.

Other related posts about habits and habits stacking:

1. How to build a morning routine by Habit Stacking
2. How to Build New Habits by Taking advantage of Old Ones
3. Why Habit Stacking is the Best Stress-Free way to Create Healthy Habits
4. How to build the habit of reading books?
5. What does it take to build new habits?

3 replies on “Easiest way to build new habit – Habit stacking”

I am glad I found this blog post today. It all makes sense and forming a habit based upon another habit – habit stacking – really is a practical way to get the day better oorganized.

I was t hinking this morning about some books I want to read – and there in your essay, I found an answer – do it for 15 minutes every day, AFTER I enjoy my Beginning-of-the-day Coffee.

I will give this a lot of thought today, and make a plan for myself that is reasonable. Thank you!

Liked by 1 person

Hi Lynda! Glad that it helped you. We all have that beginning-of-the-day coffee, and associating a new habit with that is a brilliant idea! Yes, it has to be specific don’t forget about that.

For me, I set a specific time just right after the office hours for my workouts. To ensure that I will not forget it (this works well since we are working from home and we are just doing Youtube home workouts.)

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