Summertime Habit Stacking: 3 Tips for building new habits

We just got back from our yearly vacation at Bass Lake.

Every summer, we rent the same house — with the same view.

On the first day, we go kayaking to the big rock. On the second day, we rent jet-skis and spin around the lake. To cap the week, we rent a pontoon boat — basically a floating living room — and have an all-day party on the lake with a BBQ cookout.

Rituals are a big part of our vacation — and a big part of life. Rituals create habits — and habits are what we live by, the things that we do regularly.

Watch this video to learn more — then keep reading for some extra goodies.

Because my job is portable, I was able to keep my work rituals going & run my meetings online. In one meeting, a great question came up:

What’s the difference between a job story and a habit story?

Job Stories capture customer insights; Habit Stories capture customer habits.

A job story is a structure for capturing the context and motivation of your customers — written from the customer’s first-person POV.

Habit Stories are a subset of Job Stories — closely related, but with their own special powers. A habit story is a job story that’s built around a habit — something you do repeatedly.

Like… family dinners by the lake every summer.

Habit Stories enable Habit Stacking

If you want to drive product uptake and retention, look for Habit Stories (not just Job Stories) in your customer data. This will help you identify relevant habits to stack on

Here are three tips to get started habit-stacking your product.

Tip #1: identify relevant habits you could improve

See if you can identify a repeating activity or habit you could improve in some way.

For example, every summer I look forward to our lakeside family dinners , watching the sun go down. It’s beautiful and relaxing — and usually involves grilling meat on the BBQ . Which is delicious — but makes my vegetarian daughter feel left out. More on that later.

Tip #2: Turn those insights into a Habit Story

See if you can capture the emotion, motivation and context of your customer’s habit — from their POV. For example, here’s my “lakeside dinner” habit story,

When I arrive at Bass Lake each year, stressed from the long drive
I want to share a family dinner by the lake & watch the sun go down
So I can feel connected to nature & relax into “vacation mode”

Do you see the emotional arc of this story? I want to transform from stressed to relaxed — and the setting and people help me do that.

When you’re crafting your stories, try to identify and articulate the emotional arc that your customer is seeking — that will help you create a satisfying and delightful experience.

Tip #3: Habit-stack your product experience

We LOVE our family dinners — but we wanted to introduce more vegetarian-friendly options. So we took on the challenge of making an attractive and vegetarian-friendly meal — leveraging the existing habit we already have.

On the last day of our stay, we shopped, and chopped, and created a salad bar extravaganza with S’Mores for dessert.

We’d never tried this approach with our meat-loving crowd — and it was a BIG hit.

So now the Kim Family salad bar / S’mores combo now goes into the rotation as a new habit — something we’ll look forward to doing again next year.

I hope you enjoyed this story about habit-stacking, and found some inspiration to try out these tips on your own.

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Game designer, startup coach, author, entrepreneur