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How to use habit-stacking to get more of what you want

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In January, I introduced a few concepts I learned in reading Atomic Habits. This week, I’ll demonstrate habit-stacking, how I’ve used it, and how you, too, can use this simple system to get more of what you want.

Habit-stacking is a way to add new activities to an existing routine. For example, I’ve previously discussed the importance of establishing a morning work routine. For most people, the first item in their morning routine is checking and responding to messages. 

You’ve got that habit down pat! But perhaps you’ve realized that reviewing your prospects list has become inconsistent. Sometimes you go weeks without checking it.




You can fix this problem quickly using habit-stacking. You can even include a reward for following through if you find it helpful.

Here’s your new and improved morning routine:

First, check and respond to your messages; second, review your prospects list; third, take ten minutes to check your social media feed (this is your reward).

To make this effective, you must resist the urge to check your social media before completing the two work-related activities.


Define your goals


Here’s a real-world example of two activities I want to incorporate more into my life:

  • Reading is one of my favourite things to do, but I’ve struggled to find the time. 
  • Exercising has been easy to neglect even though I’m fully aware of its importance to my overall health. 

Now, here’s how I’ve incorporated both of these activities into my daily routine, using habit-stacking:

  1. I get up at 6:00 a.m., go to the bathroom, and brush my teeth.
  2. I go to the kitchen, drink a glass of water, and take my vitamins and stuff.
  3. I go to my basement gym and work out for 15-20 minutes. Yes, that’s all for now! I’m establishing a habit that I will expand on later (as it becomes more habitual).
  4. I go upstairs, brew myself a delicious cup of black wakey juice, then I sit in my comfy chair and read a book for one glorious hour. (This is what I’m looking forward to when I get out of bed. I’ll get less reading time if I dilly-dally and hit the snooze. )
  5. I make/eat breakfast.
  6. I start my morning work routine.

I now work out and read every day, and I get it all done before 8:00 a.m. 

I don’t have to think about things like, “When am I going to work out?” or “When will I get to read?”

Instead, I do this, then I do this, and then I do this. That’s habit-stacking.


Set yourself up for success


There’s more. I’ve set up my basement gym, so it’s easy for me to work out. I walk down there and start. Whatever you need to do, make it easy, and reward yourself for getting it done.

My reward is reading. But we’re all different. What could be your reward? How can you utilize the system of habit-stacking to become better? 

Making positive changes starts with assessing what you want and need, whether personal, relationship or business-based. What type of person/realtor do you want to be?

Once you’ve established the person you want to be, you can figure out what systems to implement, such as habit-stacking, towards that goal. Then, the outcomes (your goals) happen naturally.


Perfect your systems


The mistake most of us make is focusing on outcomes (I want six-pack abs) rather than the person we want to be (I want to be the type of person who takes care of my fitness and health).

We tend to give up when we focus only on our goals and don’t see immediate results. That’s why it’s far more effective to focus on who you want to be and then implement the systems that will help you get there. 

Concentrate on perfecting your systems. When you do this, the outcomes take care of themselves.

I know I’m not doing habit-stacking justice with these few words, but If I’ve piqued your curiosity, I strongly recommend reading Atomic Habits. 

By the way, habit-stacking is only one of the numerous brilliant strategies in this book. It was hard for me to pick just one.

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