Habit Stacking

So tell me truthfully, have you kept your new year’s resolution or have you already slipped up? Well, there will be no judging from me. First, you know I have unconditional regard (and unlimited grace) for you and second, I didn’t even make a new year’s resolution this year! I did learn something this week that has caused me to consider making a “middle of the first month of the new year” resolution. That’s habit stacking. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up.

A while back a friend from another agency and I formed a book club. Well, technically, there’s only two of us, so we’re really a book duo. (We need to find more friends!) She was telling me about a 30-Day Jump Start program she’s doing. Each day, she adds one new thing to the day. For example, day 1 she had to drink a glass of water with breakfast. Day 2 she did day 1 and added a glass of water with lunch. You get the idea. By the end of the 30 days, she will have 30 new habits to jump start her health and well-being for 2021. That’s pretty cool! It jogged my memory about how I had learned to add one minute each day to build up to 3-miles of running. At first, I thought running 3 miles was going to be way too hard. But day 1, I ran for 1-minute and walked 29. Day 2, I ran for 2-minutes and walked for 28. In a month, I was running for 30 minutes and at my pace that was 3 miles. This is habit stacking!*

You probably have very strong habits you do each day: get up, make coffee, take a shower and get dressed. You can take advantage of these strong habits and make connections to build new habits. You can use the connections to your advantage buy stacking them: After/before [Current Habit], I will [new habit]. For example, when I get dressed for bed, I will set my workout clothes at the foot of my bed so when I get up, they are right there to put on. Or after I pour my coffee I will read for 20 minutes. The reason this works so well is the current habits are already built into your brain. You have patterns and behaviors that have been strengthened over the years. By connecting new habits to a cycle that is already built into your brain, you make it more likely that you’ll stick to the new behavior.

What ways can you apply the concept of habit stacking in the workplace? What are some goals you have for your team/unit/department this year? Based on the desired outcome, could you chunk it down to small deliverables and stack them up to reach the ultimate goal? What if you wanted to build trust on your team. Think about the components of trust: boundaries, responsibility, accountability, integrity…. What is something you could focus on each week or month that would build up so you can reach your goal in a few weeks/months? Please share with me! And if I can provide assistance, don’t hesitate to ask.

*Click here to learn more about Habit Stacking.

Let’s get stacking!


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