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How to make a new habit last a lifetime


How to make a new habit last a lifetime

I have a confession: for years, I’d buy vitamins and they would sit on a kitchen shelf, basically untouched. I always had the intention of taking them, but for some reason I could never remember – even the ones my doctor suggested!

And then I read about “habit stacking” and decided to give it a try (it’s outlined in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, which is a great read, with lots of practical tips!).

This is a no-brainer way to create a new habit in your life – pretty much any habit, not just taking vitamins. All you do is “stack” whatever habit you’re trying to create on top of an activity you already do everyday.

For example, when you brush your teeth every morning, all you do is add another habit on top of that (like taking vitamins).

Or…doing the dishes immediately after eating dinner each night, and then (bonus stack!) going on a short walk, which studies show helps manage blood sugar and improve your digestion!

Eventually, every time you do a “regular” activity (like brushing your teeth or eating dinner), you don’t even think about doing the “stacked” activity because it becomes automatic.

I know this works, because now I don’t have to constantly remind myself to take my vitamins. It’s just part of my regular routine.

In the Atomic Habits book, the author lays out some pretty long “stacking” routines but those are aspirational, in my opinion. I’d just start with one habit at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed or end up with an hour-long routine you have to do through before you go to bed.

Do you have a new habit you’re trying to create? Give some thought today about how you can “stack” it with an activity you already do! Here are a couple ideas:

  • If you’re trying to get back into your workouts, every night put your gym bag by your door right after you brush your teeth.
  • If you’re trying to eat healthier, plan the next day’s meals (including those healthy snacks we’ve been talking about lately!) the night before, just after you eat dinner.

That’s it! I hope you find this post useful.