Habit Stacking (a Quick Recap)
We have covered a wealth of information throughout this book, so at this point, you might be unsure about how (or where) to get started. That’s why I’d like to close out this book with a quick recap of the critical thirteen steps you can use as a blueprint for getting started with habit stacking:
1. Identify an area of your life you want to improve, and start with a five-minute block of habits. This will help you create consistency by making sure that you’re sticking with this new routine.
2. Focus on small wins by picking simple habits that don’t require much willpower, like taking a vitamin, weighing yourself, or reviewing your goals. Complete these activities for a week or two until the stack is automatic, then add more habits.
3. Remember: Even though there are 127 habits mentioned in this book, you only need to pick a few to create a positive change in your life.
4. Pick a time, location, or combination of both for when you’ll complete this routine. (Also, be sure to review the nine example routines mentioned earlier in this section.)
5. Anchor your stack to a trigger, which is an existing habit that you automatically do every day, like showering, brushing your teeth, checking your phone, going to the refrigerator, or sitting down at your desk. This is important because you need to be 100% certain that you won’t miss this trigger.
6. Create a logical checklist, which should include the sequence of the actions, how long it takes to complete each item, and where you’ll do them.
7. Be accountable by using an app like Coach.me to track your progress and frequently talking to an accountability partner with whom you share your breakthroughs, challenges, and future plans.
8. Create small enjoyable rewards that help you stick with this routine and hit important milestones. These rewards can include watching your favorite TV show, eating a healthy snack, or relaxing for a few minutes.
9. Focus on repetition by never missing a day. In fact, it’s crucial that you stick to the routine—even if you need to skip one or two habits. Consistency is more important than anything else.
10. Avoid breaking the chain by eliminating any excuse for missing a day. Create a doable daily goal that can be achieved no matter what happens, and don’t let yourself be talked out of it. Perhaps you’ll set a small goal requiring you to only complete two or three actions. The important thing is to set a goal that can be achieved even when you have an off day.
11. Expect the occasional challenge or setback. In fact, it’s better if you assume they will happen and then make a plan for how you’ll handle them. If you get stuck, review the six challenges that we just covered and implement the advice for your unique obstacle.
12. Schedule the frequency of a stack by committing to this routine as a daily, weekly, or monthly series of actions. My suggestion is to get started with a simple daily routine, but when you want to build more habits, add a weekly or monthly task.
13. Scale up your stack by adding more habits and increasing the total time of the routine. But be very cautious with this step. If you notice that it’s getting progressively harder to get started (e.g., you’re procrastinating), then either reduce the number of habits or ask yourself why you want to skip a day. The more you understand about your lack of motivation, the easier it will be to overcome it.
14. Build one routine at a time because each additional new routine increases the difficultly of sticking with your current habits. Only when you feel that a stack has become a permanent behavior should you consider adding a new routine.
That’s it—thirteen steps to build a stack that will create a positive, long-term change in your life. I won’t lie and say it’ll be easy 100% of the time, but if you stick to these steps, then you can overcome any challenge that comes your way.