This is one of the best times of the year. Once the ball drops and a new year begins, a high percentage of the population is adamant that this will be the year they create a better version of themselves. For some, this time of year could be the start of a wonderful new life. The best way to go about reaching your goals: a little trick known as habit stacking.
When a child is born, they have the ability to learn at an alarming rate. The amount of neurons in a child's brain far exceed that of an adults. It seems counter-intuitive considering adults are much wiser than children but you have to think about one thing: as we age, if we don't use certain neurons in our brain, they will be pruned away. If we don't use them, we lose them. Think about learning an instrument or a new language. If we don't learn those skills at a young age, it becomes very difficult as we move into adulthood. As for the neurons that we continually use, the connection will get stronger and stronger. The more we perform a task, the more efficient we will become at performing that task. So here is how we will use this to our advantage...
We all have tasks that we do on a daily basis. These tasks are ingrained in our brain and our ability to perform them is highly efficient. So, in order to add a new habit to our routine, we will stack the new habit with one of our old habits. Because our current habit is strongly wired into your brain already, you can add a new habit into this fast and efficient network of neurons more quickly than if you tried to build a new path from scratch.
To use habit stacking, just fill out this sentence…
After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].
To get started, simply write out a list of the current habits that you do each day. (Don’t forget about all the boring everyday routines.) Then, write out a second list of the habits you want to start. It could be that you want to eat more greens. An example would be, "before I eat my lunch, I will eat a greeny salad." Or lets say you want to improve your pullups. You could say, "before I get on the treadmill, I will practice doing pullups for 5 minutes."
One final thing: before you try to do too many things at once, start with only one new habit. Once it becomes ingrained, then move on to the next one. Take the long term approach to creating a better version of yourselves and enjoy the results you get along the way!
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Chris is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and member of the National Strength & Conditioning Association. He has recently served as a high school football and wrestling coach. Chris loves swinging kettlebells around, watching football and reading books!