Success in My Drawers; or, How to Finally Create New Habits

Big goals require big action.

Check that… Achieving big goals requires big action. Anyone can say they have a big goal, but it takes a different level of commitment and dedication to see it through.

The dedication part has never been my issue. I’ve never been one to skip a workout. I do, however, have a history of neglecting things like stretching and injury prevention.

I’ve always struggled with little things like rolling out my feet to prevent plantar fasciitis or putting lotion on my hands to prevent torn calluses. I’ll walk for miles with 45-pounds on my back, but putting lotion on my hands seems to be “too difficult”. Go figure.

This year, though, things are different.

For the past few months, I have (finally!) managed to incorporate some injury prevention habits into my routine.

No longer do I roll my feet out “when I think of it”. Now, I do it daily.

In his book Atomic Habits, author James Clear offers a simple formula on how to create new habits.

To create a habit, all we need to is fill in the following:

I will (Behaviour) at (Time) in (Location).

For example: I will stretch my quads for five minutes at 7:00 in my living room.

This is good. Making a recurring appointment with ourselves can help get us going. We know the action, time, and place and should be set up for success.

For many people, that’s all it takes.

For others, it’s not quite so easy. Sometimes, despite the appointment we made with ourselves, it ‘s still not a priority. There’s always some resistance when trying to kick-start a new habit.

I know from experience, setting an appointment has never been enough for me to incorporate a new habit.

Thankfully, Clear provides us with an even easier way to get the ball rolling. He has an almost “For Dummies” approach to creating new habits.

He writes, “One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top”. He calls this “Habit Stacking”.

The Habit Stacking formula looks like this:

After (Current Habit), I will (New Habit)

With Habit Stacking, “I will stretch my quads for five minutes at 7:00 in my living room”, becomes, “After my workout, I will stretch my quads for five minutes”.

We’re already going to do the workout. There’s no question there. So “stacking” this new habit of stretching onto the current habit makes it more likely that we’ll succeed in following through. In this example, the workout essentially isn’t over until I’ve stretched my quads.

Habit stacking is how I’ve finally managed to incorporate some injury prevention habits into my routine.

Habit stacking is why my drawer looks like this:

In it, you’ll see beeswax lotion, body glide, deodorant, a massage ball, dental floss, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and an index card.

Each of these items has a very specific reason for being in this drawer.

Deodorant, Tooth Paste, Dental Floss – These items are the most important in the drawer. Besides the obvious health and hygiene, they are my reason for going into the drawer in the first place. They’re my “Current Habit” and lead me to use the other items in the drawer.

Beeswax Lotion – Kettlebell training leads to calluses. There’s no way around it. If we don’t take proper care of our calluses, we’re likely to tear them. And a torn callus means a loss of quality training time.

I have found beeswax lotion helps control my calluses and keeps my skin both smooth and tough. With the lotion now in my drawer, I remember to put it on my hands every night. I see it, so I use it.

Body Glide – Chaffing sucks. I’ve gone on too many rucks having forgotten to put Body Glide on. I now keep it in my drawer so that I see it every day. When I see it, I know if I’ll need it or not. Having the constant reminder has saved my thighs from much unnecessary torture.

Rumble Roller Beastie Ball – A lot of rucking can lead to a lot of issues. It’s imperative to keep good care of your feet. Rather than trying to make time to roll my feet out during the day, I keep this ball in my drawer. Every time I brush my teeth, I roll my feet out at the same time. Habit stacking at it’s finest.

Index Card – The upsidedown index card has my 2019 goal and some positive self-talk on it. The words written on that card are between me and my drawer. I read this card to myself every morning and night while brushing my teeth and rolling out my feet.

Positive self-talk, even when you’re feeling good, is more important than you might think. As Zig Ziglar says, “It’s easier to stay up, than to get up.”

It sure doesn’t seem like much. But placing these items in this drawer has been huge.

By putting my “good habits” in the drawer I use daily, I make sure I roll my feet, take care of my hands, prevent chaffing, and give myself a pep-talk, every day. And by doing this, I give myself the best shot at achieving my 2019 goals.

Success in my drawers.