Researchers from both Stanford and Oxford University have demonstrated that stacking a new habit onto one that already exists is the quickest way to solidify said habit. In fact, you can make a habit permanent in as little as 3 days by practicing this method.
My main tip to conquer the habit stack technique in a way that allows you to create new habits for good:
Start with an existing very strong habit.
This should be a practice that you take for granted every day. As in, your brain doesn’t even think about it, like:
- You’re done taking a shower and hang your towel on a particular rack
- After you tuck the kids in at night, you prep their lunch for the next day
- When you walk into the bathroom first thing in the morning and brush your teeth
I’ll bet there are some habits you perform all the time that aren’t exactly healthy or great for you. But they’re so ingrained in your brain that you do them mindlessly. E.g., watching TV / snacking / drinking wine EVERY night, etc.
Now, the point is, you can stack a new behavior to that (already good or not-so-good) behavior in a way to quickly build a new habit. The way that you do this is by stacking the new habit:
- Just before you would normally do the existing habit
- After the existing habit
When learning of the habit stack method, I decided to identify which habits were difficult for me to follow through on.
For this blog, let’s address my forgetting to take all my supplements issue.
Now, I have quite a few supplements. When I would place them all somewhere in plain sight — so as not to forget to take them — I seriously couldn’t handle looking at them. All that clutter! Because of which, my brain simply rejected even going near them.
So, after strategizing for longer than I care to admit, I found a pill canister!
Next, I tried attaching this soon-to-be habit to my morning coffee routine. At night, I would place that little pill container next to my coffee maker (so much cuter and cleaner than endless bottles hanging around). In the morning, I would see that container and — immediately — be reminded to take my supplements before having my first cup of coffee.
Can you see how this works?
But that pill container was just ONE habit stacked on top of others for my morning routine. To learn those other habits (to really get a sense of stacking), plus:
- Why habit formation is dependent upon the internal reward we feel for following through
- How to form weekly habits vs daily habits
- Why forming a habit takes 21 or 30 days is a myth
Then — check out The Chalene Show episode below:
And don’t forget to subscribe to TCS for (almost) daily shows dedicated to your overall happiness, good health, personal development, productivity, relationships and wellness.