Stacking Habits

Having the right habits in place is important to our businesses and our lives. When it comes to breaking old habits or creating new ones, one thing that can help is to use existing habits as cornerstones to change. The idea of stacking habits is when you add a new habit directly after something you already do habitually. “When I do “X”, I will then do “Y”.

To use this you first have to acknowledge those things that you do automatically throughout your day. Say your alarm goes off in the morning, what do you do first? Second? Third? In example, I know I 1) get up, 2) go to the bathroom, 3) make myself a cup of coffee, 4) sit down and read emails, then 5) go through social media, yada, yada… Once you have created a list of your habits, you can start to tack on an additional task in the appropriate place.

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Say, you want to start writing a blog. Your evening routine is to eat dinner, clean up the dinner dishes, watch tv until 11pm, brush your teeth, and go to bed. You could stack writing into that schedule. “When I finish cleaning up the dinner dishes, I will sit down and write for 30 minutes before I turn the tv on…” You’ll have to keep reminding yourself for awhile, but this will soon become habit.

That’s to add a new behavior. You can also stack habits to help break or change bad habits. Maybe you come home from work and, before you even change out of your work clothes, immediately snack on chips or some other junk food. You could insert a behavior to help break that one. “As soon as I get home, I will go to the kitchen, take 5 minutes and eat an apple, then change my clothes, and then, if I still want chips, I can have them. The fact is that once you’ve cut your hunger by having an apple, and stalled the routine further by changing your clothes, you will find yourself in more control and be less likely to want the junk food.

By linking a new behavior to something you are already doing (stacking habits), you create an anchor for the new behavior and are much more likely to stick with it then if you just tell yourself to do the new behavior at some random point.

Try it out. I’d love to hear how this works for you.

 

Revisiting “Who Moved My Cheese”

“Change is the only constant. Hanging on is the only sin.” – Denise McCluggage

Every once in a while I am astounded by certain people’s resistance to change. In any business or, in fact, any life, change is inevitable.

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The world around us is changing so rapidly, how can we believe that we can, or should, escape it? I’m reminded of when my wife Heather and I first joined the corporate team of Town Sports International. We were immediately handed a copy of Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese”. The message of the book is simple, things change and if you don’t accept it and move on you’ll be left behind wondering where it all went and when is it coming back (which its not).

We can always improve how and what we do. How can we help more people? How can we have a greater impact? How can we improve the world? Change has it’s ups and downs but, the yin and yang of it is that without the downs there are no ups. Without the risk of failing, there’s no chance of improving, no growth.

We need to embrace change and go for that ride of what could be. With change the possibilities are endless.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston S. Churchill