Neurons (brain cells) compete for something called cortical space inside our brains. Think of cortical space as brain real estate. Just like there is strong demand for waterfront property, there is a strong demand for this brain real estate. In order to learn a new skill, fact or introduce a new habit, we must create a new neural pathway inside our brain. Creating a new neural pathway, however, is not that easy to do. This is because old neural pathways are very greedy and don’t like to give up any of their brain real estate. They fight to keep that real estate from other intruding neurons. New activities that are trying to create new neural pathways have to compete for this brain real estate with old neural pathways (old activities). This is why breaking an old habit is so hard to do. There is a brain real estate war waging inside our brains when we introduce new habits. The best way to co-opt brain space taken up by old habits is to stack a new habit on top of an old habit.
Think of an existing habit (existing neural pathway) as a train on a track, except it’s inside your brain. If you add your new habit to that same train, as if it were a new passenger, the brain won’t put up a fight because you’re not trying to take control over the train or the track. You’re just taking a ride. When an old habit does not perceive a new habit as a threat, no brain real estate war occurs. And viola, a new habit is born.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say you want to add a new Rich Habit of reading 30 minutes every day for self-education and let’s say you have an old habit of exercising aerobically on the stair master 30 minutes every day. If you were to put a book on the stair master and read that book while you’re exercising, you would form a new joint habit that sticks. Here’s another example: If you have an old habit of drinking coffee every day and you want to add a new Rich Habit of drinking a glass of water every day, you could drink a glass of water every time, either before or after you drink a cup of coffee. And that new joint habit would also stick.
By using this habit formation strategy you can effortlessly form new wealth-building success habits that stick. Each habit you add to your life has a cumulative effect. They are like an investment in your success. Over time these success habits move you closer and closer to achieving success in life. The more good daily success habits you add over time, the closer you get to success. And wealth will eventually follow.