Pairing: The Art of Creating Healthy Habits
Ever since reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before, I have been so inspired to take a closer look at habits and why, when, and how we form them. Today, I’d like to spend some time talking about the art of pairing and its application to habit formation.
Often, when we decided that we want to make a healthy change or form a new habit, we struggle to be consistent with our decision. One of the ways to overcome this that Rubin recommends is the art of pairing activities together to form a habit.
For instance, when I wanted to start flossing my teeth once a day a few years ago, I paired this new habit with my habit of brushing my teeth every night before bed. Now, flossing and brushing my teeth before I head to bed a habitual; I don’t even have to think about it!
Although this example may seem simple, the concept behind pairing habits can be powerful. When we have a habit already in place in our lives that we find easy, convenient, and enjoyable, it proves easier to tack on a new habit to an existing one, instead of trying to start fresh. In doing so, we pair the two habits together, so that after some time, it seems almost unnatural to do one habit without the other.
Take this concept of pairing habits and consider how you can apply it to your goals for the New Year or to the habits you want or wish to form. Here are a few examples to get you started:
Original habit: Making coffee each morning.
New habit: Drinking a glass of water every morning.
How to make it stick: Move your coffee into the cupboard with your water glasses to remind you to drink a glass of water before drinking your first cup of coffee each morning. (Bonus: The hydration will help kick-start your day and put you ahead of the dehydration game!)
Original habit: Listening to podcasts (this is my personal favorite!)
New habit: Strength training and/or going for a walk outside.
How to make it stick: Pair the two habits together! You can only listen to the latest episode of your favorite podcast when you are out for a walk or in the weight room. Personally, I use this pair of habits all the time – I love podcasts and enjoy listening to them while lifting weights.
Original habit: Reading before bedtime.
New habit: Journaling about your day.
How to make it stick: Take five minutes before you crack open that book before bed to jot down your thoughts about your day, how you’re feeling, and what your plans are for tomorrow.
I hope these examples provide some insight as to how you can make the strategy of pairing work for your habit formation. It’s an effective, simple, and easy way to add positive changes to your daily routine.
Buy Gretchen's book here.