From year to year and around the globe, it is funny that the main New Year Resolutions that people strive for don’t change very much. Topping the list is usually losing weight, reducing alcohol, exercising more, stopping smoking, spending more time with family, improving work/life balance and learning something new – like an instrument or foreign language!
So, despite these good intentions and a whole concept wrapped around making changes – why are New Year Resolutions so doomed to failure?
Well, often, the goals are large, and people may lack a clear plan on how to make changes. They start with good intentions, but willpower and enthusiasm quickly wane. People often try to change too many things, all in one go, and so they get overwhelmed, to name a few…
So, what if this year you tackled things differently? Enter – Habit Stacking!
Habit Stacking was a phrase coined by S.J. Scott in his book called; Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes Or Less. But the concept has probably been popularised by another author called; James Clear – in his book Atomic Habits and more recently on social media.
So, what is Habit Stacking?
Without knowing it, many of us already habit stack – there are things; that we do every day, and usually in a specific order, and there is often a connection between them. For example: Setting an alarm clock to get up, making a hot drink, showering, brushing your teeth, checking the news, checking email and so on – all before you’ve even thought about going to work.
How can Habit Stacking Help Me?
When you are striving to do something new, often time, willpower, motivation etc. become challenging.
So, you harness habits that already exist and that you do almost on autopilot – and then tack on a new habit that will move you towards your new goal.
- When I’m waiting; for the kettle to boil to make my morning drink, I will meditate for one minute.
- When I get home from work and change out of my uniform (work clothes), I will put my gym attire on straight away.
- When I get into bed at night, after I set my alarm – I will make a point of showing gratitude to my partner and giving them a kiss goodnight.
The whole point of Habit Stacking is to keep things simple. You want new small changes that you can easily add to your existing routines and keep doing until they also become a habit (which can take up to 6 weeks).
Seeing changes, and feeling like you are accomplishing what you set out to do, is incredibly motivating. People are much more likely to continue when they can see results.
- Think about all of the cues in your day when you do something – when it would be easy to add in; a new habit.
- Think about your end goal, perhaps losing weight. Then break it down into much smaller things. 8 glasses of water per day, 2 portions of fruit per day. 3 servings of vegetables per day, a 15-minute walk etc.
- Then stack your old habit with a new routine that lets you achieve a small task; that takes you closer to your end goal.