Cheers to Tears

Habit Stacking: The Simple Secret to Sustainable Lifestyle Changes

Habit building is a process that many of us struggle with. We all have habits that we want to introduce into our daily routines, or conversely, those we wish to abandon.

But despite the multitude of self-help books, articles, and courses available, people still struggle with habit formation. This is because traditional approaches to building habits often implemented by people are ineffective.

However, there is an effective alternative, called habit stacking, which we will explore in this article. Part I: The Ineffectiveness of Traditional Approaches to Habit Building

Traditional approaches to habit formation frequently fail because they are often motivated by impulsivity, and without considering the underlying reasons why the habit needs to be formed.

Simply put, humans tend to fall back into their previous routine once the willpower wears down, leaving the initial effort wasted. Research has revealed that it takes 66 days of daily practice to form and stick to simple habits.

However, this is not feasible for many people because they often try to build too many habits at once. As a result, they are unable to create repeatable and sustainable habit-building steps.

Part II: The Concept of Habit Stacking

The concept of habit stacking is a simple, but effective alternative to traditional habit-formation methods. It involves establishing a series of small, repeatable, and consistent steps that gradually build towards the desired habit.

The small steps help to implement long-term habit transformation without requiring unbearable dramatic behavioural changes. Habit stacking can be compared to a pyramid structure, comprising individual small habits that when put together, form an integrated whole that leads to a successful habit.

When this approach is implemented, the brain prunes away the synaptic connections that are not required in one’s daily reactions, leading to a more robust connection between brain neurons and the desired habit. Part III: Why Habit Stacking Works

The brain forms connections between neurons in response to learning and experience.

When experience-based neurons are used repetitively, they become increasingly strengthened, forming a habit. However, breaking old habits and forming new ones is challenging due to the dense, interconnected networks of neural pathways in the brain.

Our brains are hard-wired to take the path of the least resistance, making it natural to return to old habits. Habit stacking works by breaking down long-term lifestyle changes into small and manageable incremental steps.

An integrated approach to stacking habits helps our brains to rewire and reinforce the neural pathways, giving us the strength to push our minds and bodies to maintain the new habit. Part IV: Understanding Habit Stacking

The process of habit stacking is straightforward.

One only needs to focus on introducing small changes into their daily routines, which are attached to currently existing habits.

An initial step for creating a habit stack that works is identifying the cue that triggers a specific behaviour.

In this context, a cue is something that happens in your daily life that acts as a reminder or trigger for you to act in a certain way. Cues could include a location, an event, a time of day, a person or an emotion.

Once the cue is established, one can build a new habit by layering it on an existing habit that is linked to the same cue. An excellent example of this approach is exercising while waiting for the coffee to brew.

Every morning, the sound of the coffee machine serves as the trigger or cue to start exercising. Thus, the exercise habit is attached to the habit of making coffee.

Part V: How to Create Habit Stacks That Work

The habit stacking process can be broken down into five simple steps:

1. Identify the desired habit that they wish to create.

2. Identify a habit that they currently follow that they want to link the new habit with.

For example, showering can be attached to brushing teeth.


Find a cue that occurs frequently during the day, such as having lunch or receiving notifications on their phone. 4.

Attaching the new habit to the cue. Taking vitamins can be attached to receiving notifications on their phone.

5. Begin practicing the habit as soon as the cue is triggered.


In conclusion, habit stacking is a proven approach to help individuals overcome the challenges of habit formation. In the end, starting small and building consistent, small steps that eventually create a habit is the key.

Remember, Habits are not meant to be created overnight, as they require patience and dedication. Finally, if you stick to habit building one step at a time, you’ll have a much higher chance of succeeding.

Part I: The Importance of Starting Slow

One of the most significant benefits of habit stacking is the ability to start small while building habits over time. Starting slow is instrumental for long-term success as it allows an individual to gradually introduce changes to their routine without feeling overwhelmed.

When starting a new habit, it’s essential to keep the changes small and manageable. This helps to ensure that the habit is easy to continue and does not disrupt daily life drastically.

It also helps to increase confidence in one’s ability to accomplish the desired habit. By starting small, people have a higher likelihood of sticking to the habit, forming a new routine and ultimately achieving the desired lifestyle change.

Part II: An Example of Habit Stacking

A fantastic example of habit stacking is incorporating walking into your daily routine. To start, an individual can choose to walk for just five minutes before completing their daily grooming routine such as brushing their teeth.

Over time, this can become a habit, and an individual may gradually increase the time spent walking, leading to long-term benefits. By setting simple goals at the beginning, such as walking just five minutes before brushing teeth in the morning, one starts with a simple habit stack, where the habit of walking gets attached to the habit of brushing teeth.

Other habits like flossing before brushing teeth can be attached in the same way, where flossing is the new habit that is chained to brushing teeth.

Part III: Building Your Habit Stacks

To build effective habit stacks, one should follow a simple habit loop.

Every habit loop includes three steps: a cue, a routine, and a reward. Establishing a clear strategy, setting goals and breaking each goal down into small, repeatable tasks is vital for habit establishment.

Breaking habits down to repeatable and manageable tasks should be done systematically and with patience. Sometimes, it takes weeks or even months to establish a new routine, but once established, the habit can be easily maintained.

Chaining small habits over a longer period is a good approach to achieve sustainable goals. Suppose someone hopes to adopt healthier habits such as drinking more water, reading, or exercising.

In that case, they need to determine a small habit they wish to achieve each day, such as drinking an extra glass of water every morning while reading a page or two of a book. These small, sustainable habits can later be built into larger habit stacks for continuous improvement.

The daily habits can be put on a sheet of paper that someone can tick when accomplished daily. This written record will serve as a reminder and an indication of progress.

After successfully establishing a habit, it’s essential to add new habits that complement them, and develop into bigger habit stacks naturally. Part IV: Healthy Habits Take Time

Instant gratification is a prevalent issue, and people often struggle to maintain long-term habits due to a low attention span.

However, introducing healthy habits can significantly improve both physical and emotional health over time. The benefits of habit stacking are numerous.

One can develop a more stable blood sugar level, which leads to lower stress levels, resulting in weight loss. As new habits pile up, they gradually lead to a healthier lifestyle, physically and emotionally.

Healthy habits cannot be created spontaneously but require patience and determination. Therefore, it’s essential to start small, build incrementally and maintain consistency over time.

Ultimately, healthy habits are key to long-term sustainable change that can boost emotional and physical wellbeing. Part V: How To Start Building Your First Habit Stack

When starting habit stacking, it’s essential to start small and build on daily habits incrementally.

Remember, these habits don’t need to be perfect from the start, and it’s okay to make mistakes. What’s important is being consistent in practice.

First, one should establish a clear vision of what they want to achieve with habit stacking. Once that’s established, they should start with simple habits that can be incorporated into their daily life.

For instance, drinking more water every hour, taking a walk around the block after lunch or doing a five-minute meditation in the morning. Secondly, these daily habits should be written down on a piece of paper, and progress should be tracked.

Once these small actions become habitual, one can increase the daily task in small increments and establish a new task. Before you know it, you will have developed a powerful routine that serves you, incredibly improving your overall wellbeing.

Part VI: Cumulative Effect of Habit Stacking

Habit stacking has a cumulative effect, where small habits, when done consistently, lead to tremendous success in the long run. Building healthy habits like meditation, drinking water, or walking regularly may, at the start, feel insignificant.

However, once they become habitual, they will have an astonishing impact on one’s life. When one establishes a habit stack, it’s essential to keep track of its benefits.

Examples include a better mood, clear thinking, and an overall healthy lifestyle. Cultivating healthy habits is a gradual, lifelong process that requires patience, determination, and consistency.

However, it’s the small habits that gradually pile up, leading to an overall improvement, stability and balance to one’s physical and emotional health. In conclusion, habit stacking has proven to be an effective approach in building healthy habits in a sustainable manner.

By starting small, establishing simple daily habits, and building incrementally, one can radically transform their lifestyle over time. Maintaining consistency and patience is key to developing a habit stack, leading to lower stress levels, stable blood sugar, and even weight loss.

In summary, habit stacking requires patience, self-awareness, and a long-term focus to achieve long-term sustainable results. FAQs:


What is habit stacking, and how is it different from traditional approaches to habit formation? Habit stacking is an approach that involves incorporating small, simple changes into daily routines that gradually build up over time, leading to sustainable habit formation.

2. Can anyone implement habit stacking, or does it require special skills or training?

Anyone can implement habit stacking, regardless of previous experience or training, typically starting small and gradually increasing the habit stacks’ complexity. 3.

What are some of the benefits of habit stacking? Habit stacking can lead to lower stress levels, stable blood sugar, and weight loss, among other health benefits.

4. How long does it take for habit stacking to yield results?

The results of habit stacking are not immediate and may require several weeks or months, depending on the specific routines and goals involved. 5.

Is habit stacking a one-time process, or does it require ongoing maintenance? Habit stacking requires ongoing maintenance, and habits must be continually reinforced to maintain their effectiveness over time.

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