I remember writing notes in a diary while reading Charles Duhig's book "The Power of Habit". I did not finish the book. The only thing I remember from the book is the concept of Habit Loop. The relationship between cue, routine and reward. The simple idea, if executed well, can drastically improve one's life. It worked for me.
I had reasonable success with my habits, but very few lasted for a long time. Then I read James Clear's Atomic Habits. This time I finished reading the book. There are many ideas in the book, but the one that worked for me is habit stacking. It's where you find a sequence of habits that can be performed together and then tie them together in a stack.
My morning habit stack looks like this:
- Write Morning Pages
- Walk for 40+ minutes
- Listen to a Podcast
- Write down what you can remember or learnt from a podcast
The second stack is more straightforward:
- Meditation for 20 minutes
I have been following the morning habit stack for a few months now. I miss a few days in between, but I am relatively consistent. Consistency is my aspirational personal moat.
The stack helps you execute all the habits every day. It is also essential to consider these habits as individual units that form the stack. Hence the title of the post - composability of Habits. The stack doesn't also have to have a defined sequence of the habits.
I started the stack by walking for 5 KM every day and then writing the morning pages. I changed the sequence a few days back. The stack still holds good. It doesn't help to be married to the sequence of habits. It would be best if you had enough flexibility to move around the habits while still having the overall structure of the stack.
The second stack I have is a relatively smaller one. I have tied meditation to the act of bathing. Regardless of when I take a bath, I meditate right after. Thankfully it's still desirable to bathe every day, and hence I meditate every day as well. It wasn't like this always. I had the meditation in my morning stack, and though it worked, it hadn't stuck. I still found myself not doing meditation for a few days. After taking the habit out of the stack and coupling it with bathing, the consistency has drastically improved. I did not miss meditating even for a single day in August.
You can assemble the habits in various combinations to create a functional stack.