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How habit stacking can help you achieve your goals

Lady Speak
 To get rid of bad habits and adopt new good habits you need to create simple goals (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you find yourself repeating bad habits or failing to accomplish even the simplest goals like waking up on time or working out, it could be time for a change. However, adding new habits to your daily routine is not easy and, as you may probably know, you need to understand that change is painful and may be met with some resistance.

But it is natural.

What you need to do at this point is create simple goals, checklists and aim for consistency.

Coined by Wall Street Journal bestselling author S.J Scott in his 2014 book, ‘Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less,’ the practice of habit stacking proposes building routines around habits that don't require effort.

Also known as habit chaining, it works by grouping together small changes into a routine you already follow every day. In other words, you use things you already do to remind you to do something else. For instance, if you always forget to floss, you can remind yourself to do so every time you’re about to brush your teeth.

Repeat that routine and in two months or so you will have built a behavioral change as one behavior will serve as a cue for the next and so on.

If you follow that approach achieving any goal becomes practically achievable. Here is how. 

Start small

If you try to do it all at once it will become overwhelming. Once you have identified a trigger, plan what you will do to complete the action. 

Don’t stack every habit in your life simultaneously but take one or two areas and focus on those at a time. To make sure you accomplish the new goal, keep it very simple. If you want to start reading daily before bedtime, aspire to read a chapter a day. Most likely you will read more but the goal here is to complete one chapter.

Check that off your list and keep it consistent. Before you know it will have become an automatic action.

 An accountability partner will push you when your motivation wanes (Photo: Shutterstock)

Create a simple checklist

This is a crucial step in habit stacking. The last thing you want is get to the end of the day and realize you haven’t achieved anything of importance.

This is where a checklist comes in handy. 

Write down the actions you want to accomplish that day, how long it will take and where it will take place. This will help save time and remove guesswork on your next step for action.

Make sure the goals you want to achieve align seamlessly with your day to make it easier to achieve.

Be accountable

When you have no one to report to about your progress or failure chances are you will end up going back to your old habits. Making a personal commitment to implement change is good but it is not enough to get things done.

You need a support network. Get an accountability partner who will push you when your motivation wanes and will celebrate your wins.

Another alternative is getting apps like ‘Coach Me’ or ‘Lift App,’ that will help you maintain and stick to new habits.

 Celebrate even the smallest accomplishments (Photo: Shutterstock)

Reward yourself

No matter how simple it may look in your eyes, completing a task you have set yourself is an accomplishment that should be rewarded. This will motivate you to keep doing it even when you don’t feel like it. 

However, keep your rewards reasonable. For instance, you cannot reward yourself with cheesy fries after working out. That beats the purpose.

Look for something you enjoy and that has some benefits too.

Schedule the stacks

Not all stacks are meant to be completed daily. For that reason you need to write it down. Once you’re comfortable with daily stacks move on to weekly, monthly and yearly stacks.

This will help you schedule important easy to forget tasks like filing taxes, paying for yearly land rates, holidays, etc. 

Writing them down and having a reminder will eliminate the stress of trying to remember what you were to do two months from now and be a source of discouragement because you did not finish one project.

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