One way to make a new habit stick

When trying to adopt a new habit, a common problem is just remembering to do it! Luckily, there is a really simple solution to this problem that works for many (but not all) habits. The solution is called piggybacking and it occurs when you use an existing habit as a trigger for a new habit. I actually used piggybacking recently to help me get into the habit of taking my vitamins.

Until recently, I’d fallen off track with taking my vitamins (Vitamin D and Calcium). For months, I’d forget to take them and then eventually just gave up. I decided to use the piggybacking strategy to help me remember.

First, I needed to identify a strong daily habit that was already well-established. Easy – my morning coffee habit (I can’t remember a day in the last few years where I haven’t had a coffee to start my day). This would be the habit I would use to piggyback my vitamin-taking. Just thinking “Okay, take your vitamins before your coffee,” wasn’t enough to make me remember – I had to put the bottle of vitamins in my coffee cup. It works! A pretty simple, painless solution.

How can we apply piggybacking?

  1. Look at your existing routine for habits that are already well-established. These are the habits that you can piggyback off of.
  2. Pick a habit that is important to you and you’re confident you can accomplish (if you don’t care about taking vitamins, for instance, a trigger probably won’t change that).
  3. Be really specific about the habit you’re going to achieve. Don’t just say, “I’ll drink more water.” Instead try, “I will take a sip of water every time I answer an e-mail at work” (and then make sure you have a water bottle at your desk).
  4. Start with something small and build it up over time if it’s appropriate. If you want to do push-ups every time you use the rest room, start with one. Work your way up to two, three, and more. The key is to make the task do-able, not daunting!

Piggybacking could be one way to help you create a new health and fitness habit but one caveat would be to make sure that the new habit you’re trying to make a part of your life is one that is valuable to you.

So tell me, do you have any habits that you’d like to try the piggybacking strategy with? Comment below!

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