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Habit Stack Your Way Through 2023

Habit Stack Your Way Through 2023

Habit stacking may be the easiest way to make your New Year's resolution stick. 

Habit stacking, a relatively new trend, is taking a habit you want to do and pairing it with a habit you already do. Our brains strengthen connections between brain cells when we repeat actions. Habit stacking is known for being effective because it makes forming new habits a lot easier by piggybacking off existing neural circuits.

The term “Habit Stacking” emerged in 2014 when J.S. Scott published the book “Habit Stacking: 97 Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less” Throughout this self-help book, J.S. Scott teaches the best way to form a new habit is to start with a daily pattern and to tie a new habit to the already-existing pattern. 

According to Scott, there are eight elements to a habit-stacking routine.

  • Each individual task takes five minutes or less to complete.
  • It is a complete habit.
  • It is simple.
  • It improves your life.
  • The process is logical.
  • It follows a checklist.
  • The routine takes less than 30 minutes to complete.
  • It fits into your life.

Habit stacking will look different to everyone. People have various goals; for example, certain individuals may care more about fitness, while others may be focusing on financial, career, mental health, or social goals. However, the basic habit loop system can be implemented no matter what the objective at hand may be.

Other authors have emerged to share their daily habits and routines. One popular example is James Clear who wrote his version called “Atomic Habits,” which quickly became a #1 New York Times Best Seller.

Clear explains in his book that there are three different psychological components to a habit loop: The cue, the habit itself, and the reward.

Implementing the habit loop system to make our bed would look something like this. A pattern that is already innate after waking up is getting out of bed. Right after getting out of bed, as soon as your feet hit the ground, is going to be the cue — or the automatic behavior to add the new habit. Making the bed is the habit stacking. The reward then is starting the morning productively, and the bonus is having a made-up bed to climb into after a long day.

Dr. Rangan Charterjee, a British Physician, Author, and Podcaster shares that every morning after getting up, he goes to the kitchen and begins walking over to his French press. This is his cue. While, his coffee is brewing, Dr. Charterjee jumps into a brief five-minute workout in his kitchen — still wearing his pajamas — using a kettlebell throughout his workout. The habit itself is the five-minute workout. Once his coffee is ready to drink, Dr. Charterjee sits down and enjoys his cup of coffee. This is the reward.

By keeping his kettlebell in view in the kitchen, Dr. Charterjee can set himself up for success in the morning to complete his five-minute morning workout.

Just incorporating five minutes of exercise, while this may seem like a minor change, adding these minuscule workouts daily, produces 35 minutes of exercise in a week. Multiplying the weekly amount of time spent working out and multiplying that number by 13 weeks which is approximately three months is 455 minutes of exercise in total put in.

Multiple studies have shown that just five minutes of exercise every day increase metabolism, boosts mood, and increase energy levels, producing noticeable changes in the body. When we choose to be better each day, we are benefitting our future selves. Tiny improvements every single day will lead to bigger more prevalent rewards in the future when implementing habit stacking into your daily routines.

Your chances of successfully fulfilling your goals with habit stacking are much greater than simply trying to make drastic life changes — like getting up two hours early to go to the gym each morning. Motivation comes and goes, but habit stacking is built. By pairing something we already do with something we want to do, these two habits will become associated with one another. The more repetition of a habit the more that task becomes second nature. Make your New Year’s resolutions attainable by habitually stacking small tasks into your current routine.

Start small and continue to add other tasks to successfully obtain all your goals this year.