On habit-stacking and how it can help achieve your goals

4 min read

Aug 19, 2021

Do you ever surprise yourself with the things you know? Like let’s say, when you wake up in the morning, how did we know that the next step should be brushing your teeth or having breakfast or checking your missed messages from your friends? 

Throughout our childhood and the rest of our adolescent lives, we’ve been unknowingly trained by our parents to create habits that can help us grow. An example: remember when you were in pre-school or early grade school when your mom brings you merienda every 3 p.m.? Then after merienda, she asks you to take a nap so that you can play with your friends after? After doing this multiple times, we get used to the routine and voila, we’re suddenly well-fed, well-slept, and well-entertained kids. This is actually a good example of habit-stacking. 

What is habit-stacking?

For those unaware, habit-stacking is basically connecting one activity to another to help you create better routines and habits. According to author James Clear, the ideal habit-stacking formula is “After/Before [current habit], I will [new habit].” Taking the previous merienda example, the formula for that was “After eating merienda, I will take a nap.” Think: IFTTT but IRL. 

Habit-stacking is an effective tool for slowly working towards our big picture goals. But before all that, you first need to know what you’re working towards and the necessary steps you need to take to get there. 

How can I apply it to my goals?

Let’s say your big goal is becoming a psychiatrist. Before you become a psychiatrist, you’ll need a medical license. For you to get a license, you need to pass the board exams. To pass the boards, you need to study medicine. And before that, you’ll need to pass a pre-med course in college, and so on and so forth. If you’re currently in SHS, becoming a psychiatrist might feel like a far-off dream, but the good news is that it also means that you have time to slowly study concepts that you might need in the future. 

An application of habit-stacking your daily routine could include: After watching a KDrama episode, you can watch one biology explainer video on YouTube or before making your morning coffee, you can read a paragraph from your science book. Attaching simple and doable actions that can contribute to your big goal to positive experiences (like drinking coffee or watching a drama) can encourage you to start acting as early as now. 

What happens next? 

Once you’ve built your foundation, you can habit-stack your habit-stacked habits into one giant Jenga of habits (try saying that 10 times). Taking the previous example, you can stack it like this: watch KDrama episode > watch medical explainer video > make coffee > read one chapter of science book, and so on. Not only will it become a routine that effectively incorporates small steps towards your goals, but it also becomes a cue for yourself towards making better habits. 

The challenge here now comes with control. How do we actually make sure that we follow through with the habits that we set instead of watching an entire season of Hospital Playlist in one sitting? Just like anything else, it comes with practice. Sometimes you’ll be successful in habit-stacking, while other days you’ll be in the zone. Just remember that each day is a chance to restart and you have time to keep growing and habit-stacking towards a better you. 

Is self-control not your biggest hurdle in achieving your dreams? Take this quiz to find out what’s yours! If you need help in building better habits or being more productive in school, check out The Vision Board for more content like this.

 

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