There is an old Buddhist quote that says that the path for many always leads through one. And when it comes to habits, and the usual stacking habit, the impact (many) that you want to build for yourself must go through the right entrance (one). So here's a 4-step process to create a positive habit stacking routine. But before we jump into this process, we need to cover the basic issue that will serve as the foundation of our habit of stacking routine: What do you want to achieve? There was a guy there, driving a car once, and he got lost in the city. So he went into the first house he saw, ask for directions. "Hey, I'm lost. Can you help me?" "Of course." "Can you point me to Bleecher Street?" "Where do you want to go?" "To the mayor's office, I'll meet you there." “Well, don't go to Bleecher Street. Just follow this path to the end, turn left, and go straight. You will be able to get to the town hall easier.” “Okay, thanks,” and the guy was taken away. The town hall was not on Bleecher street, but the guy who was driving the car and wanted to go to the town hall meeting thought he had to drive through this particular street to get to the town hall. But he got an easier route and an easier way to reach, because his target wasn't Bleecher down the street, it was the town hall. The same applies to your habit of stacking routine. It's not about what you need to do, it's about what you want to achieve. The start point is always the end point. What do you want out of this habit of stacking routine at the end? Only after you are clear can you develop a realistic way of getting there that your habit of stacking a routine. And how do you build your habit stacking routine through the following 4 steps.
1. Result Action
This is the stage where most habit-laying routines actually fail. Because it's not a human being, it's lazy and doesn't work materials, it's about decision making in discerning what's really important to do. And I want to include a term I took from MJ Demarco here known as "action-simulant". What is a "simulator action" you might ask:
Fake actions (as opposed to "take action") are when you take single and/or unfinished actions that are not part of a larger process.
So what you are doing is not really acting to imbue real change, but to momentarily feel good and deceive yourself about progress. Fake actions can be many things in many different contexts. It's like reading a book, if you're reading them to learn how to create habits and understand the nuances behind it - cool, then it's taking action. But if you read books just to read books or "double" your knowledge because you're not "ready" yet, then you're just acting fake. Reading books is very important for your progress…. until it is. You are mistaken that you really act, maybe once, twice or for a week, but your actions are not directly related to what the needle is. And as I have mentioned in many of my previous articles, the fact that moving the needle is just what matters when it comes to home habits. But this trick works great for our brains... we're secreting momentary high dopamine, deceiving ourselves with illusions of progress, when in fact, we're just wasting time. So find out what your 80/20 (80% of income comes from 20% equity, also known as the Pareto principle) and just 20. If you want to build a big body and you know you need to do it in the gym, then what "20" is? It's actually going to the gym. I watched a video on YouTube about this action-fake. Reading books about this action is a fake. Buying equipment like gloves, shoes, clothes and a gym bag is a fake. The only thing that is important for you is to show up at the gym regularly. This is the thing that will move the Needle and here's what you need to do.
2. Environmental Design
Great, you've figured out what you want to achieve and what's best to move forward through the process. I congratulate you on this. The next step in our habit-laying process is to design the environment in a way that will help you make the habit out of the "taking action" process. Therefore, in the example above of building a perfect body and the action-process of making a go to the gym, we have come to the point where we need to build that support system. And when it comes to environment design, we have two different sides and we have to use both of them:
Negative Ecological Design
Negative environmental design is the exclusion of things, things, people, and situations from your environment, which will make your taking action (the habit of stacking routine) harder. So negative environmental design is to eliminate the things that prevent you, in the example above, from going to the gym. With that in mind, we could remove the remote control and the TV in our living room to stop us from binge-watching TV instead of going to the gym, we could stop talking to colleagues after work, which just sucks our energy and drains us of all the resources we could use to go to the gym. We can stop shopping every day because it will be free until our time to go to the gym. These are just a few examples of how we can eliminate all of our environments that prevent you, in this case, from going to the gym. And then, there is another side of the same coin.
Positive Environmental Design
Positive environmental design is about adding things, things, people, and situations from your environment that will make your action-taking (habit of stacking routine) easier. So positive environmental design is an addition that will help you, in the example above, to the gym. With that in mind, we could put our gym bag right outside the door or carry it with us about our work so we can go to the gym once we've completed work. Or we could get a gym membership at a local gym that is only 10 minutes away. In addition, we could start going to the gym with a partner - this increases our responsibility towards our goals. These are just a couple of examples and you are free to create your own. But it's not about just having one or the other, but about both of them. Some of you will respond better to negative environmental design, in some cases positive environmental design. I, personally, am more of a negative environmental design person because I've learned that it helps me so much more to stay out of my habit than positive environmental design. And I discovered a great way to create negative environmental design through process gamification ((glider: gamification training with ideas and best practices)) I learned from Glisser.com's blog section. It helped me create my own negative environmental processes. Since everyone is different and needs different doses of both, try different things and see how they work for you.
3. If/Then P.
When most people think of a styling habit, they think of if/then positions. “If I wear boots, I go to the gym. If I go to the gym, then I will work out. If I train, I will get results.” If/then items work great in a habit of styling routine... as long as you don't put too many of them on. Because you can create the following habit of stacking routine: “If I get dressed, then I definitely go to the gym. If I go to the gym, then I will work out. If I'm exercising, then I'll buy healthy food to eat." If I buy healthy food to eat, then I will run for an hour after. If I run for an hour, then I will do a series of push-ups. If I do a series of push-ups, then I put my clothes next to my bed. If I put my clothes next to my bed, then I will go to sleep. If I fall asleep, then when I wake up, I'll get dressed. If I get dressed, then I will go to the gym…” The problem with IF/THEN clauses is that they work for a limited set of factors and lines. What I mean is that you can and should create an if/then item, but only for a limited number of actions. I always give advice to limit the number of actions to two. And by that I mean the following: "If I brush my teeth, I floss afterwards." Or “If I go to the gym, I will work out!” Or "If I buy healthy food, I will eat it." That's it. I always recommend only this one, because it's easy and it's not a program that you do a million different things that will radically change your day. Which will have a bounce rate of 99,7%. This is a simple if/then sentence that will help you add some action to the bulk result (remember the 80/20 rule). And you should limit these provisions to only two new ones per day. So with our example above adding a gym habit, you can only add one single, tiny activity on top of something else to stack the habit. We already have: "If I do X, then I'll go to the gym." If you want to build a great body, then I suggest adding a negligible if/then position to something else that complements the gym habit. And here is an example:
- "If I gossip at the water cooler, then I'll eat a banana/apple/something healthy after that." (positive OKR. design)
- "If I have breakfast, then I will add eggs to it." (positive OKR. design)
- “If I drank coffee today, then I am not sugar it. (negative OC. design)
- "If I'm going out for a drink with my friends, then I won't go to some diner later." (negative OC. design)
You can create your own, these were just a couple of examples, but remember that you should only stick to one (other than a gym habit). If you try more, you will not be able to remove it and you will return to the starting position.
4. Make a straight line
And this last one is more psychological than technical. I see this quite often with successful people with lots of energy and vigor - they want to get things done quickly because they have the potential and energy to do it. But this approach is not the most of any. Making a straight line towards your achievement is not rushing towards the goal and forcing yourself day in and day out. It's about investing in building that habit of styling routine that will be a part of your life-forever. This is not a "highs and lows" type of work. It's about lifestyle. And once you get to incorporate this into your lifestyle, go slow, meet, go straight and small. It's about the daily actions that you do that add up to great results in the end and create habits in the first place. You cannot build a bridge out of a single piece of stone or metal. You do this by stacking small pieces on top of each other to create something strong that lasts. And with that in mind, I leave you with the quote you read at the beginning of this article, as it sums up the message perfectly.
The path to many (habits) always goes through one (habit).
More tips on habits at home
- What is a routine? 9 Ways And Procedures To Make Your Life Easier
- How to Break a Habit and Break the Loop of a Habit
- How to change a habit (in psychology)