Become Better: Habit Stacking

I am so psyched about my #oneword2020. I’ve shared it with my family. I’ve shared it with my team at school and I’ve shared it with all of you. I feel really great about where my journey towards consistency will take me this year. As I come across impactful things, I will try to remember to share them here, so that we can continue to grow together!

I started reading Atomic Habits An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear as part of my journey and it has already made a difference in my life. Clear talks about the power of habit stacking. Habit stacking is one of the best ways to build a new habit. 

So what’s habit stacking? 

You identify a habit you do everyday and stack a new habit on top. The brain research behind habit stacking centers around what’s called synaptic pruning. In the book, Clear explains that “Synapses are connections between the neurons in your brain. The basic idea is that your brain prunes away connections between neurons that don’t get used and builds up connections that get used more frequently.”The synapses in the brain build connections and those connections get stronger the more often you do something, but in similar fashion, the less you do something the brain prunes away those connections. 

The formula for habit stacking is: 

After or Before CURRENT HABIT, I will NEW HABIT. 

Here are some examples of habit stacks shared in the book:

  • After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.
  • After I sit down to dinner, I will say one thing I’m grateful for that happened today.

I could immediately see how habit stacking could be useful in being more consistent in my life and work. I started applying a few habit stacks last week and will continue to add more!

Here are a few of last week’s habit stacks. 

  • When I turn on login to my computer at work, I will begin writing one positive note to a staff member each day. (Consistently celebrating others)
  • When I begin getting ready for work, I will listen to a professionally connected audiobook until it’s time for me to leave. (Consistently listening/reading daily to improve my practice and leadership)
  • Before I leave for work, I will refill my water bottle and take it with me. (Consistently drinking water daily)
  • Before I leave work on Mondays, I will share my next blog post. (Posting weekly)

Read more about habit stacking here, and definitely pick up the book Atomic Habits

Do you have habit stacks?  What habit stacks are working for you? Which ones will you build this year?