Habit stacking routines are the pathway to a better life. They are the perfect tool for anyone who wants to achieve more, whether it’s in fitness, career, or relationships. But before we jump into the process of building a habit stacking routine, we need to cover a fundamental matter that would serve as the base of our habit stacking routine: What do you want to accomplish?
There is an old Buddhist quote that says that the path to Many always leads through One. And when it comes to habits and habit stacking routine, the impact (the Many) that you want to build for yourself has to go through the right input (the One). Only once you’re clear on what you want to accomplish can you develop an actual path of getting there which is your habit stacking routine.
Fundamentals of a Habit Stacking Routine
This is the first step of the habit stacking routine process. It is where most habit stacking routines fail actually. Because it’s not about people being lazy and not working stuff, it’s about the decision-making process in distinguishing what is actually important to do. Action-faking is something that people often get caught up in, mistaking that they indeed act, maybe once or twice, but their actions aren’t directly correlated to what moves the needle. The things that move the needle are the only things that matter when it comes to habit building.
For instance, if you want to build a great body and know that you will need to do it in a gym, then what’s your “20” there? It’s actually going to the gym. Watching YouTube videos about it, reading books about it, or buying equipment like gloves, shoes, clothes, and a gym bag is action-faking. The only thing that matters is for you to show up at the gym regularly. That’s the thing that will move the needle.
The second step in our habit stacking process is to design your environment in a way that helps you make a habit out of the “action-taking” process. This step consists of two different parts, the negative environmental design and the positive environmental design, and we should use both of them.
Negative Environmental Design:
This is all about eliminating the things, stuff, people, and situations from your surroundings that make your action-taking (habit stacking routine) harder. For instance, to go to the gym, you could remove the remote controller and the TV from your living room that distracts you from going to the gym, avoid hanging out with colleagues after work that just sucks out all of your energy, and stop going shopping every afternoon because it would free up your time to hit the gym.
Positive Environmental Design:
This is all about adding things, stuff, people, and situations from your surroundings that make your action-taking (habit stacking routine) easier. For instance, to go to the gym, you could put your gym bag right next to the doors or carry it with you on your work to jump to the gym as soon as you finish working. Or you could get a gym membership from a local gym which is just 10 minutes away. Also, you could start going to the gym with a partner — it would increase your accountability toward your goals.
This is the final step in our habit stacking routine, and the third component of a successful habit stacking routine is to have if/then clauses. If/then clauses work perfectly in a habit stacking routine… until you put too many of them. Because you can create the next habit stacking routine:
“If I put my clothes on, then I will go to the gym. If I go to the gym, then I will exercise. If I exercise, then I will buy healthy food to eat.” If I buy healthy food to eat, then I will jog for an hour after. If I jog for an hour, then I will do a series of push-ups. If I do a series of push-ups, then I will put clothes next to my bed. If…
The problem with too many if/then clauses is that it becomes unsustainable to follow through.
To build a habit stacking routine that sticks, one must understand the importance of outcome-based action, environmental design, and if/then clauses. Remember that your habit stacking routine is not about what you need to do, it’s about what you want to accomplish. The starting point is always the endpoint.
Eliminate anything that prevents you from reaching your goal through negative environmental design, and add everything you need to reach your objective through positive environmental design. Finally, simplify your if/then clauses to maintain consistency without becoming overwhelmed.
The path to success requires focus, dedication, and proper preparation. With the methods above, you can build a habit stacking routine that will set you up for success in all aspects of your life. Start with one habit at a time, and build upon your successes to create long-lasting change. Remember, the path to many always leads through one.