Feel the Domino Effect with Keystone Habits

For me, when I wake up early I feel better. I get more done and the day seems to be a good one. Compare this to when I sleep in.

After I wake I’m a bit pissed with myself and then the time I usually have is much shorter so I have to sacrifice my usual morning routine.

Positive things like, stretching, meditation and reading all seem to suffer.

Waking early is my “keystone habit”.

Keystone habits are daily habits that improve your life, making you feel better and improve general well-being.

For something to qualify as a keystone habit it has to result in other positive habits. Like you wake up early, you then have time to exercise or meditate.

Keystone habits are an idea that rose to popularity after Charles Duhigg brought it to everyone’s attention in his fantastic book “The Power of Habit”.

For a habit to qualify as a keystone habit it follows these three points.

1. A keystone habit gives you small wins

After completing the habit it seems to lay out more easy to complete habits giving your day momentum. Like I pointed put about, when I wake early I have time to meditate, stretch, read and even do some writing.

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All of these small wins give my day momentum and give me a feeling of accomplishment from the start.

2. Keystone habits act as a foundation for new habits.

With your keystone habits, new habits are easier to implement because it acts as a solid foundation.

So forming a habit of meditation would have been impossible if I reverted back to my university days of sleeping till the last-minute and dashing to class.

Waking early acting as a positive foundation to build this new habit.

3. Keystone habits give you more energy and motivation

Lastly the keystone habit has a long-lasting effect after you complete it.

Using my waking early example again. It sets my entire day up for success. I complete other habits that make me feel good (meditation, yoga, reading) and this stays with me for the whole day.

Compare this day to sleeping in, missing my morning routine, grabbing a coffee on the way to work and feeling stressed out and rushed for the rest of the day along with a topping of guilt for not doing my morning routine.

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If you want more advice about how to implement these habits, check out my mini habits and tiny habits articles here and here.

Below are some examples of keystone habits that will improve your life.

  1. Make your bed

This is a great habit for those of you who suffer from anxiety. It is a simple yet powerful habit. You can go to work knowing that you have one less thing to worry about when you come home.

  1. Exercise
  2. Positive thinking

This Cherokee tale outlines exactly how powerful our thoughts are.

A young boy came to his Grandfather, filled with anger at another boy who had done him an injustice.

The old Grandfather said to his grandson, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one wolf is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offence when no offence was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

But the other wolf, is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper.”

“He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, because his anger will change nothing. Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, because both of the wolves try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?”

The Grandfather smiled and said, “The one I feed.”

What is your keystone habit?

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Let me know in the comments.

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