Habit Stacking, A Quick How-To

A few days ago, I was running some errands when the siren call of the Golden Arches (and the greasy smell of fries) caught my attention just around the lunch hour; having resolved to return to my healthy eating habits which have brought me such success over the last two years, I knew that McD’s was not a viable option. Of course, once I took the least healthy option – in the world – off the table, my mind started to wander from Chinese take-out, to other “healthier” fast food options.

Ultimately, I reminded myself of another habit I am trying hard to build – being more intentional with my money (through resolutions such as buy almost nothing, and monthly tracking of my expenses) – and stacked my healthy eating and healthy finance habits to make a better choice on both accounts. My last stop on my errands was the grocery store, where I purchased a little something special to take home and make for lunch.

This habit stacking method can be used in a variety of ways, to help reinforce one good habit or outcome, with a second good habit. When I look at my own resolutions for 2019, I see several opportunities – beyond healthy lunch decisions – to stack my habits for greater impact and success.

Habit Stack, Example 1: This year I have resolved to use my “found” 40 hours a month (that I won’t need to use commuting to my new gig, closer to home) to be more productive, I’ve also resolved to Create more Art in 2019. Through effective planning and use of some of this time, I can carve out new blocks of time to work on my paintings, drawings and other “maker” projects.

Habit Stack, Example 2: This year I have resolved to complete Acts of Kindness and Recognition, one of the sub-habits of this being that I intend to write notes of thanks and recognition to friends and family; in 2019 I have also resolved to spend more time with friends and family and to keep some sort of track of those who I’ve missed seeing for several weeks (months, etc.) so that I can schedule time to reconnect. These in-person connections present opportunities for personal recognition of those I hold dear, but also the act of looking to recognize those who have impacted my life, will lead me to add names to the list of those I hope to spend time with.

Habit Stack, Example 3: An advanced triple stack! This year I have resolved, as noted above, to use my “found” time productively, at the same time, I have resolved to keep to my weekly habits, one of those weekly habits being driven by my resolution to write a book in 2019 – as I will need to protect regular blocks of time for writing and revision.

Whether staking your habits in a purposeful or spontaneous way, leveraging one resolution to boost another goal is sure to increase your chances of success by all measures. What will you habit stack today for greater impact?

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