Habit Stacking

You win at life and leadership by doing the basics. How do you actually do them? Well, first you need to know what the basics of life and leadership are. For my vocation, I have distilled out five essential habits for Christian leadership. They are:

  1. Daily prayer
  2. Consistent exercise
  3. Evening routine
  4. Weekly Sabbath
  5. Weekly Planning

These may seem daunting to you. So how do you go about implementing them? Here’s my unscientific, but experience-tested idea: habit stacking. Just like you must stack brick upon brick to build a sturdy structure, so you must stack habit on habit one at a time. You cannot rush the process. It takes a while for a habit to stick, at least a month or longer. So really, what you need to do is start with prayer AND NOTHING ELSE. Just prayer. Get in the habit of daily prayer. Once you’ve done that for 30-60 days, add in ONE OTHER habit. That’s it. Just one.

My experiment. Back in April, I decided to rebuild my life from the ground up. It started with daily prayer. I literally made a checklist of doing prayer every day. Then I added in exercise. Then I added in working on my school papers since that is a major priority for me right now. I worked those for over 40 days strong now. For the month of May, I decided to entrench family worship into my life. So every night now for May, I read the Bible with my kids. That’s it. I’m not adding in anything else until June.

Eventually, you will run into a limit of how much you can include into daily and weekly habits. There’s only so much time in the day and week; eventually, you need to get on with your life! But the point is to slowly add in these habits so that you don’t overload yourself. If you try to change too much too quick, you will become frustrated with constant failure and possibly give up trying change for a while. That’s counter-productive. So do the HARD and PATIENT work of habit stacking.

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