We’ve talked about the habit loop, and convenience/inconvenience and stacking, and now it’s time to introduce yet another strategy you can use to help you build habits without relying on willpower or motivation: Pairing.
Pairing might sound similar to stacking, but it’s actually quite different. Pairing is when you take something that you really enjoy, and you pair it with a habit or behavior that you’re trying to build and strengthen (often times something that isn’t as fun.)
Want a few examples?
- Let’s say you’re trying to exercise more. What if you only going to let yourself watch your favorite TV show while you’re on the treadmill at the gym?
- Or, if restricting yourself doesn’t resonate with you, simply use TV, podcasts or audiobooks to make the exercise more enjoyable. I, for one, always end up running just a little longer (often subconsciously) when I’m particularly engrossed in an audiobook.
- I once had a client who was trying to build the habit of opening the mail daily and she only let herself listen to her daily news podcast while she was opening the mail.
- Personally, I’m not a huge fan of chores (who is??), but I get a lot more of them done when I’m pairing them with listening to podcasts.