Our roadblocks and current routine are not in the way, at all! They are stepping stones, we can choose to use our preexisting circumstances in our favor!
If we step back and look at our entire days, as a 3rd party observers, we will begin to see nearly everything we do is a habit (or routine). Introducing a new habit can seem daunting when we are in the weeds and stepping back to look at our day from a birds-eye view, as an observer, will provide a new vantage point.
Here is an example of a very high-level view: make the bed, brush teeth, eat breakfast, make coffee, take kids to school, go to work, eat lunch, coffee run at work/lunch, pick kids up, workout, soccer practice, make dinner, watch TV, read a book, go to sleep.
The majority of this list occurs without fail in our lives, unconscious. We follow this structure, unknowingly and every part of our day is a habit, regardless of whether it’s positive, negative, or neutral.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the formation of a habit: cue, routine, reward, and the importance of mini-tasks being a part of the routine leading to the big habit (reward). Here, we are going to focus on habit stacking (or anchoring): taking preexisting habits and adding to, or taking away from them to serve our highest good.
Okay, let’s do this exercise together: Think about a healthy habit you want to begin to introduce (or reintroduce with structure) into your daily life. Got it? Cool, write it down.
Now, list out everything that occurs in the day that stops (or potentially could stop) you from completing this habit under a column titled “Road Blocks”. Next, under another column “Daily Habits”, write out your current daily routine – from the very beginning of your day until the very end.
Finally, circle what we’ll call “Areas of Opportunity” – any roadblocks/habits you could use as cues/triggers to pivot, or habits you see that directly oppose your habit. See the image below, I’m legit doing this exercise as I write.
Can you being to see the dots connecting now?! Our roadblocks and current routine are not in the way, at all! They are stepping stones, we can choose to use our preexisting circumstances in our favor! For me, since I don’t make the bed in the morning (PJ does), I wasn’t putting a book out and that got me out of my routine of reading nightly. Stepping outside myself and viewing my day objectively gave me clear insight into another time that I do go back into the bedroom once the bed is made when I can place my book on my side of the bed.
A preexisting habit I saw as an opportunity was opening the blinds; I open them every morning before I begin work. I will now stack the mini-habit of placing the book on my side of the bed after I open the blinds. Leading into my evening, when I draw the sheets back, the book IS IN MY HAND as I’m getting into bed. Set yourself up for success!
If you watch Netflix (or TV) before bed, the action of turning on the TV could be a perfect cue to pivot your action. Or, you could place the book next to the remote after making the bed in the morning. Another possibility could be to enter into a contract with yourself to ease into the new habit of reading before bed: 1 episode for 1 chapter. This would stop the binging and start the reading.
The options are endless when we have the observer’s POV. Be your best teammate – have empathy for the executor! Do the small things to ease the overarching boldness of the big thing.
Since reading nightly is a new (reintroducing) habit I’m creating in real-time with you all, it’s fresh and I haven’t built as robust cues and routines around it as I have my daily exercise habit. Building the habit and structure out will come with time and continued monitoring of what is or isn’t working. Below is my system for daily exercise.
(habit stacking commences the night before)
1. Skin Care Routine – a product calls to be on my face for 2 min. so while it’s setting:
1a. set clothes out (both exercise clothes & clothes for the next workday)
2. Brush Teeth/Floss
2a. fill a workout water bottle
2b. Set out workout headphones
3. Switch Watch Charge for Phone Charge
3a. make an exercise routine
4. Blow out the candle or turn off Light
4a. self-affirmations before sleeping
“I am excited to wake up feeling energized”, “I can not wait to crush this workout”, “I
am deserving of a good night’s sleep”
5. Alarm Goes off: choice to snooze or be gratful
5a. self-affirmations when rising
“I am resilient”, “I am powerful”, “I am strong”, “I am grateful for my ability to move my
body”, “I am fearless”
6. Use Restroom/wash hands/Brush teeth
6a. put on exercise clothes
7. Set workout mat out (sometimes I don’t put it away so it might already be there)
7a. 5 min. stretching/meditation; taking time to appreciate the abilities my body provides me
Previously, it looked like there were just 7 habits, here it looks like there are 14. I think both are correct answers, I have 7 habits that I would consider to be “obstacle eliminators” and the other 7 just natural routines I’ve added to or made triggers/cues out of.
The example above has been added to, taken from, and in creation for years. I didn’t tackle all these at once, please don’t feel overwhelmed, I merely wanted to provide a bit more robust example for creativity as you all begin to stack your habits! As I build upon my nightly reading, I will commit to sharing via IG stories! Who’s with me?! Let’s get better together.