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Creating New Habits Easily with Habit Stacking

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

Adopting a new habit can be a difficult thing especially if you have no natural trigger to perform your new habit. This is where habit stacking comes in. Habit stacking is the technique of attaching new habits to existing ones.

Here is how Habit Stacking works

Let’s say you are trying to establish a new habit such as regular meditation. If you’d like to meditate in the morning, what habits do you already have that you could attach meditation to? In the morning you:

  • Get up

  • Have breakfast

  • Shower

  • Brush your teeth, etc.

How about you meditate for two minutes after you’ve finished your shower? At this point it is not important how long to meditate for. Your ultimate goal might be to meditate for an hour or more but start small anyway. You’re more likely to stick to it. A mini habit is easier to implement than a huge one. Once meditating has become a habit you can extend the time you meditate for.

It is important to stack your habit on top (after) your existing habit. Your existing habit becomes a trigger for the new habit, it doesn’t really work the other way around. Trying to do something new before will leave you frustrated that you’ve yet again started your existing habit without doing the new thing first.

Once you’ve created your first stack you can build upon it. You can add another habit on top the existing two. So, in our example, you would have your shower, meditate, then you could write down 3 things you’re grateful for (if you want to introduce practicing daily gratitude).

Habit stacking is one of the techniques James Clear recommends in his best selling book Atomic Habits which I highly recommend.

Where do you start?

You can start by making a list of all the habits you want to implement and a list of things you do every day without fail. Then pick a new habit to attach to an old one and remember to start small. Also, don’t attempt too many stacks in one go. You could attach one new habit to an existing morning habit and one in the evening.

If you’re not sure how to break down your desired habits, here are some ideas:

Here is a YouTube video that explains habit stacking really well if you're a visual type.

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