No Need for Willpower: How Habit Stacking Will Help You Crush Your Goals With Ease


Contributed by Beth Rush

When someone conquers a goal or gets through a rough period, people often say the same thing — treat yourself. Although it’s good to let yourself rest after working hard or enduring a challenge, self-care should be more than an occasional treat.

Taking care of your physical and mental health means creating a sustainable wellness plan. Habit stacking can help with that. These are a few ways it can teach you how to crush goals with ease by developing discipline that makes healthy living easier.1. You’ll Recognize Your Existing Strength

It’s easy to conflate willpower and stress as permanently linked factors. When stressed, you might tell yourself you’ll stick with your healthy habits another day. Instead of continuing your progress, you may rely on coping mechanisms that range from mildly unhealthy to self-destructive.

Although it’s challenging to power through new habits when stress makes you exhausted, it’s not impossible. The first step in habit stacking is recognizing that you’re strong all the time because you’ll always have skills in your toolbox. Make a literal or mental list of your skills to form the foundation of your habit-stacking future, such as:

●      Your ability to go to work every day

●      Your ability to make daily meals

●      Your ability to be thankful for your life

Making this list will give you something to reflect on as you progress through your goals. Knowing where you started is half the battle.2. You’ll Set Attainable Goals

Learn how to crush goals by uncovering the simple secret — start small. You wouldn’t sign up for a marathon if you just completed your first jog. People achieve objectives by breaking them into small, attainable steps.

Think about which goals you want to accomplish to create a healthier lifestyle and spend time reflecting on which steps will get you across your finish line. You can also use your list of existing skills to think about the tools you already have to make those steps possible.

3. You’ll Change One Thing at a Time

People also fail in their goals by trying to change too many things simultaneously. If you’ve wanted to live a healthier lifestyle before, you might have created an exercise routine, scheduled a gym commute and planned a more nutritious diet. They probably didn’t last long because it was too much change at once.

Pick one healthy goal and use your skills to make it a habit. You can still eat that nutritious diet you had planned, but start slowly. Add one food or meal weekly to establish a sustainable diet by not learning too many recipes overnight. Your time-management skills or weekly grocery shopping habits will get stacked beneath this new goal.

4. You’ll Keep Current Helpful Habits 

Habit stacking also means keeping parts of your routine that work. Toss out anything holding you back, like negative self-talk after a workday. A new helpful habit like journaling your thoughts will support your upcoming goals.

Imagine deciding to get better sleep and make that improved routine last. You already set an alarm to wake you up every morning, so why not use that skill to set one for your bedtime? After this becomes a habit, you can try new tricks that make it easier to sleep, like laying on your belly instead of your side or vice versa.

5. You’ll Recognize Your Successes

Failing to recognize significant and small successes will keep you from crushing your goals. It might even spike your anxiety, further conflating the untrue connection between willpower and stress. Encourage yourself to consistently recognize when you’ve taken another step forward by celebrating with something fun or journaling about your feelings.

6. You’ll Eliminate Negative Self-Talk

Thinking negatively about missing an opportunity to practice a new habit will hold you back. It’s crucial to prioritize eliminating self-talk as you read about how to crush goals. Any progress is good because that’s how habit stacking works. As each new branch of a habit grows stronger, your lifestyle will reach the healthier vision of the future you desire.

7. You’ll Replace Bad Habits

Habit stacking also works because people continuously replace bad habits with better ones. Filling that space with healthier activities, thoughts or behaviors means there’s less room for previous bad habits to form roots again. Mark each day as an equal success to a week, month or year of sticking with your new customs. You’ll quickly reach your goals because a lapse in commitment didn’t allow bad habits to resume.

8. You’ll Start to Dream Bigger

As you practice stacking your habits, you’ll gain a new skill that keeps the process going. You’ll look potential failure in the eyes and trust yourself to either avoid it or learn from it. Getting over that fear is one of the steps everyone has to take to start dreaming bigger.

Use it as motivation to get through times when your willpower and stress start to clash. Every time you face your fears, your potential becomes infinitely bigger. Celebrate your stacking habits and set bigger goals when you’re ready for more. Bigger dreams introduce more possibilities. You could become anything you want with time, practice and habits reinforced by existing routines.

Try Habit Stacking Today

Now that you know how to crush goals by building habits on top of older ones, pick one or two aims for your healthier, sustainable future. How do you want your life to improve in a month or six? Remember to reflect and celebrate along the way to nurture your mental and physical health.


by Beth Rush • Managing Editor at Body+Mind

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