If you want to start a new habit, add it to an old habit.
For example, if you want to start drinking more water throughout the day, add it to things you already do:
“Every time I brush my teeth, I’ll drink one glass of water.” Keep a glass beside the bathroom sink to make it even easier.
“Every time I drink a coffee, I’ll chase it with a mug of water.” This is literally what I do.
“Every time I have a meal, I’ll have one glass of water.”
“Every time I use the bathroom, I’ll have one glass of water.”
Choose one or any combination of the above and you’ll get your 8 glasses of water per day, easily.
Why is this so effective? I mean…starting something new and sticking to it is really hard, and you’ve probably tried before. But new habits and routines are tough because you’re forming new neural networks (connections in your brain). And the older you get, the more your brain resists change. So the answer is to build off the existing neural networks that are already in place.
The water example is an easy one. Let’s try habit stacking for getting more protein.
“Before I eat anything else on my plate, I will eat at least 3oz of protein”. 3oz is the size of your palm. That’s an easy one because you’re already eating anyway.
“During the first commercial of the show I watch at 7pm, I will eat 3oz of protein.”
“I will eat 3oz of protein with my second coffee of the day.”
“I will eat 3oz of protein when I check the mail at 3pm.”
Want another great one? My business mentor, Sharran Srivatsaa, sends a ‘gratitude text’ every time he finds himself waiting in line.
When he has to wait to do something (like the checkout line, the movie line, or boarding a flight) he’ll send a text to one person in his life: “I am so grateful for you because…”
Isn’t that amazing?!
How to get started:
- Make a list of the things you do EVERY day. You might not even notice you do them: like brushing your teeth, they’re so automatic that you don’t think about them. Showering, eating breakfast, driving to work, listening to podcasts…write them all down. These are the habits you can attach new habits to.
- Make a list of your options. If the new habit you want to adopt is stretching, write down a list of 20 stretches.
- Start small: instead of doing 20 stretches every time you brush your teeth, pick one or two. Make your first new habits really easy.
- Commit to two weeks. If the habit doesn’t stick, try an new cue or make it even easier. Go slower if you have to, but don’t stop.
Want help choosing what to do? Book a free No-Sweat Intro at Catalyst here: