January might be the time when we traditionally make plans for the future and resolve to do things differently, but as our industry takes a natural break during the summer months, August undoubtedly presents us with the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button and focus on our own physical, social, and mental health. We all naturally fall into both good and bad habits in our working and personal life and it’s only when we step outside of ourselves that we can often see these for what they are and recognise those that serve us well and those that don’t. Sometimes we know that we should be doing things differently but making changes to our daily routine isn’t always easy – we’ve all been there with New Year’s resolutions that we have made in earnest…only to have abandoned them by February (and that’s if we even managed to get through January!) Implementing any kind of new behaviour can be tricky, especially if it involves breaking a habit of a lifetime; as the writer Will Durant famously said ‘we are what we repeatedly do… therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit.’
However, there is a method out there that might just help us all; the notion of ‘habit stacking’ as introduced by the writer, blogger and broadcaster S.J Scott builds on the idea that we can all make healthy changes by adding new routines onto tasks or chores that we do every day. Instead of radically changing our behaviour, habit stacking instead allows us to create (and hopefully stick to) new routines by building on ones that we already have. In his book, he explains that ‘habit stacking works because you eliminate the stress of trying to change too many things at once’– it certainly sounds like a much more logical process to follow and likely to have more of a lasting impact than trying to completely overhaul our day-to-day routines in one fell swoop.
Our CEO and host Emma Cartmell delves further into the topic during Episode 5 (Season 1) of her Love Life Live Well podcast where she’s joined by Claire Elmes, Founder of Inspire You. Claire emphasizes just how effective the technique of habit stacking can be in our personal and professional lives as well as the importance of understanding those habits that serve us and those which don’t. We all have well-established daily habits that we do without thinking, such as reading, brushing our teeth, or taking a shower and Claire explains how through literally ‘stacking’ a new habit onto an existing one, we can gradually re-condition the brain to become used to the new sequence of events… and it won’t come as such a shock to our systems! (you can tune in, learn more and listen to the full episode here). So whilst we all look forward to taking time out with our nearest and dearest during the summer months, we should also seize the opportunity to slow down a little, remind ourselves of what’s important and acknowledge how this is reflected in the way in which we live our lives. Perhaps by simply taking some time out to reflect on our habits and why we do what we do, we can recognise the small changes needed to help us lead as fulfilled a life as possible, both in and out of the workplace.