Eight weeks of ‘networked’ habits

Gotta celebrate the little wins! At the end of last year I completed another year in review and identified 3 areas that I wanted to focus on for 2017. One of areas of focus is intensity, where I’ve asked the question:

How can I make my foundation habits more resilient to changes in my life’s intensity and rhythm?

Limitations of habit stacking. I’ve had the ongoing issue of stacking habits only to watch them fall like a house of cards in the face of change. When I fall off the wagon, it can take me months to get back on again. The only foundation habit I consistently maintained in 2016 was sleeping 8 hours a night. In Q1 I kept an incredibly aggressive physical training schedule. In Q2 I ate healthy and cooked consistently. Most of Q4 I meditated regularly. There was no stretch of time when I managed to consistently incorporate all 4 into my life together.

Enter networked habits. Yeah, I know, if your tool is a hammer everything looks like a nail. However, I do find that my most resilient habits are connected to several other behaviours, habits and or beliefs that help them become more entrenched in my life. Not in a ‘stacked’ way (one after another), but in a ‘networked’ way (nodes with several interconnected edges). They still require a trigger habit, but whenever possible that habit is already deeply rooted. Here they are, in all their simple glory:

1 | Turn off alarm > open timer app. This simple habit has helped me consistently meditate for the last 8 weeks. Usually I set a 15-30 minute timer for my meditations, but I often got distracted by notifications and wasted that valuable time. Now I turn my phone to airplane mode when I go to sleep (which silences notifications from people in different time zones) and immediately set the timer for meditation when I wake up. Since I set an alarm almost every day, I’m hoping this habit will stand the test of time.

2 | Receive Amazon Fresh delivery > order Amazon Fresh delivery. Trips to the market are first to become collateral damage when workloads increase and schedules become intense. I have a hard time justifying a late night trip to Tesco, in part because their protein selection is embarrassingly poor for someone who doesn’t eat meat. Also, I much prefer to support small, local businesses and artisanal purveyors. Amazon Fresh has become a saviour in this regard. I can still buy produce from Chegworth Valley, salmon from Forman and Field, and bread from Gail’s within minutes. This means I always have healthy food around for simple cooking. This also unlocks the opportunity for more dinner parties and brunches, which I love to host.

3 | Add event to calendar > ask ‘can I walk there?’ Two heels are better than four wheels. Or any form of public transportation. I have made a habit of asking myself ‘can I walk there?’ when I add plans to my calendar, which ensures that I build in the time to do so. It’s had a number of wonderful, unanticipated side effects above and beyond incorporating physical activity into my day. This time has become incredibly valuable for thinking about new ideas and through problems. It also gives me the opportunity to explore new neighbourhoods and feel like a tourist in my own city.

Will keep you posted as to whether these are also vulnerable to ‘wagon-falling-off’.


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