Quantcast

Is Habit Stacking Key To Achieving Your Goals?

I'm just going to say it: We start each new year doing way too much.

Workin' Girl

I'm just going to say it: We start each new year doing way too much. The writing is usually on the wall early on that we won't follow through with all of our big "new year, new me" jive. Why? Because we want major change as immediately as a blink of an eye, without having any real plan. Think about it: The statement: "I want to lose weight", while a noble goal is also so general that it leaves crucial questions unanswered and almost dooms itself to failure in utero.

What if the best way to make the biggest (and most long-lasting) changes in our lives is not to make big changes at all? When I think about my biggest failures, 99% of the time I did too much too fast with either no plan or a pitiful one, got overwhelmed, and went back to life as usual. Enter, the brilliant method of stacking habits.

Before you get apprehensive, just think of it as a new way to take baby steps toward your goals. According to best-selling author, James Clear:

"Habit stacking is a special form of an implementation intention. Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit."
Through the practice of habit stacking, we become aware of the habits that are already integrated into our lives and use them as foundations on which to build other beneficial habits toward our goals and best outcomes.

If you think about pretty much any huge undertaking: starting a business; writing a book; quitting smoking; or becoming a top-performing athlete – two things are clear: 1) none of it happens in one fell swoop and 2) you're usually either replacing a bad habit with a better one or installing a good habit where there was nothing. There are steps. We don't have to go hard from the jump if we don't know whether or not we can sustain. There are other methods that will help us to maintain our integrity as we commit to being healthier.

Habit stacking builds on those two ideas. It is a strategy that when practiced with integrity, brings you successfully to your desired outcome. And it is not so rigid that you cannot adjust for life changes or new goals. It is essentially attaching a new habit to something you already do without fail.

Let's break it down:

1.Create A Specific Goal

Getty Images

What is your main goal? Let's say you want to read more. Great! But what does that look like day-to-day? You need to zoom in with specifics. Your goal could go something like this:

"I want to read for at least 10 minutes each day."

Ten minutes of reading each day will bring you to your overall goal of reading more. Now you've got a new habit looking for an old habit to attach itself to!

2.List Your Current Habits

Getty Images

What are some things that you do everyday without fail?

Here a few examples from my life:

  1. I check my phone each morning.
  2. I spend time in prayer.
  3. I brush my teeth.
  4. I take my lunch break at work. (Y'all better! Viva la self-care!)
  5. I have tea before I start my work.
  6. I scroll social media while watching TV when I get home from work.
  7. I write out my Mindfulness lists for the next day.

Create a second list of things that happen to you without fail everyday:

For example:

  1. Social media notifications.
  2. Red lights.
  3. The sun rises.
  4. You receive a text.
  5. Beyonce comes up in conversation. (Or is that just me?)

3.Decide Where To Place Your New Habit

Exercising with weights at home

Getty Images

Once you've created your lists, you now have a bunch of mini-foundations on which to build another habit that will serve your big goal.

Now it's time to be honest with yourself about where your new habit will be most effective. If you know you can't focus in the morning before having coffee, trying to read for 10 minutes every morning is basically setting yourself up to fail. Don't play yourself. Be real.

However, if you know that when you get home from work, you spend time unwinding by scrolling through social media, watching television, or checking personal emails, there may be an opportunity to fit in your new habit. And again, BE SPECIFIC.

For example:

"BEFORE I [scroll through social media at the end of my day], I will [read for 10 minutes]."

See how that works? You've assessed which habit is easiest to attach your new habit to and you've given yourself parameters by being specific about the timing. You'll read BEFORE you scroll.

A couple of my personal stacked habits look like this:

BIG GOAL: To get in better shape.

FOCUSED GOAL: To walk 5,000 steps a day.

HABITS STACKED:

  1. Each time my fitness watch buzzes, I will take 3 laps around the office.
  2. While my food cooks each night, I will dance salsa for 10 minutes.

In order for these two habits to be successfully integrated into my daily routine, I had to be thoughtful about where in my day they have the best chance of succeeding. I wear my fitness watch faithfully and it always lets me know when I've been sitting for too long. It's a built-in accountability partner. I'm always listening to music while I'm cooking so it makes sense to incorporate salsa.

The goal is to ensure your own success by being specific, and using what is already working in your life as Velcro to which to stick a new habit. Remember to be specific, find the best timing for your new habit to be successful, and keep going! Even if you miss a day, keep going back. If you need to adjust, adjust!

Happy habit stacking!

Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

Originally published February 6, 2019

Featured image by Getty Images

You know what? Sometimes, you've got to push a few coins aside and determine in your mind that you're going to invest into your sex life (if you had a sex jar, this would be easier to do, by the way. You can read more about what that is all about here). If you're someone who is totally down to do that, but you don't have a clue where to begin, boy have you come to the right place! Between the joy of being a writer who sometimes gets samples sent to me, the constant research that I do for the couples I work with and having folks shout-out certain items semi-often, I've compiled a list of 12 sex-related items that may seem random AF (a pun is kind of intended there) and, at the same time, can make sex so much better between you and your partner. Where's your pad at? You're definitely gonna wanna take note.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine about someone who once told me that they had an annual week-long summer rendezvous that lasted for over 15 years with someone else. Yep — this individual would meet up with another person who lived in a different state, solely to have sex for a week straight, and then return to their city as if nothing ever happened. According to them, the only reason why this ritual romp eventually came to an end is because the other person decided to get serious about someone else; however, it wasn't until it ended that the person who told me the story realized how attached they actually had become to their sex partner (a cautionary tale). After I completed my lil' tale, my friend simply said, "Oh, I do that s — t every cuffing season. There are some people who I only talk to around this time of year, we f — k around and then that's that until the season comes around again."

Keep reading... Show less

How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks about love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.

When it comes to sexuality, there have always been societal limitations centered on what is "acceptable." However, with more honest conversations about how fluid sexuality and sexual expression can be, now there are so many more opportunities for self-exploration and taking back ownership of our identities again. One couple that is living their truth and being sexual beings unapologetically while living and loving their lives are Jasmine Johnson and King Noire.

Keep reading... Show less

I'm so excited because one of my favorite unscripted shows is back. OWN's Ready to Love is a dating series that follows professionals over 30, looking for long-lasting relationships. Hosted by Nephew Tommy, it follows singles who desire true connections and are grouped together to find them.

Keep reading... Show less

Social media influencer and actress Tabitha Brown has garnered viral fame through her inspirational and vegan videos on Instagram, thanks to her cheerful personality and infectious smile. Now, she is entering a new phase in her life as an author. The 42-year-old released Feeding the Soul on Sept. 28 and recently shared an emotional video of herself after finding out her book was number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Jill Scott Talks Balance, 'Highway To Heaven' & Not Burning Herself Out To Produce

In this exclusive, the actress dishes on executive producing the reboot, and balancing business and motherhood.

Latest Posts