Habit stacking

Habit stacking is strategy for forming new habits. It involves taking a new behavior that you'd like to develop into a healthy habit and tying it to a habit you already perform regularly. You're using the current habit as a trigger to signal you to engage in the new one. For me, I use habit stacking a lot to develop new fitness goals. Habit stacks typically follow the formula "before/after I [current habit], I will [new habit]." For example, "after I check my cell phone, I will do 5 push-ups." Checking your phone in this example should signal you to perform the push-ups. My previous post talked about aiming small when you develop new goals, so make sure the new habit is easy to perform (which will in turn make motivation to perform it high). You can always build upon the goal if it becomes too easy, but the key is not to make it too difficult otherwise you'll fail at making the new behavior consistent and automatic. I think it's important to choose a high frequency behavior to be your cue to perform the new habit so that opportunities to engage in the new behavior occur often. One pitfall I've found with habit stacking is if the new behavior is too challenging, I tend to perform the existing habit less as a means of avoiding the new behavior. So, in the example I used, if the rule you create for yourself is, "every time I check my cell phone I will do 50 push-ups," then you may tend to avoid your cell phone simply because doing 50 push-ups is too challenging for you at the moment.

1 comment

  • I love this idea. I think it’s a reasonable thing to do successfully, BUT … wish me luck!!

    Susan Beaver

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