Would you spend $100 to buy a chicken that laid one egg per day or a chicken that laid 5 eggs per day? Assuming you like eggs, the answer is obvious. You would spend your money on the chicken that laid 5 eggs per day. Why? Because you got more for your money.
Well, the same holds true for your habits. You invest willpower, a valuable resource, when you instill a habit. It also costs you time and energy. Therefore, choose the habits that you want to work on (i.e. spend your resources on) wisely. You want to get the highest return for your hard-earned resources!
What kind of habits will yield a high return on your limited resources? Keystone habits. Keystone habits are habits that create a chain reaction of other habits. This means that by implementing just this one habit, you will create a ripple effect of other habits. For example, getting a restful night of sleep will likely lead to some other good habits such as getting up early to get a good aerobic workout in. This might lead to some anaerobic exercise and perhaps even some yoga. You will likely hydrate with some fresh water during all of this and when this exercise fiesta is over perhaps you will grab a healthy breakfast. It’s unlikely that after a rigorous workout you will have the desire to scarf down some junk food! You will seek out a healthy smoothie or perhaps some fresh organic fruit. You will have more energy for your day and will almost certainly be in a positive mood. So, instilling just this one habit of getting a good night of sleep led you to aerobics, anaerobic exercise, a healthy breakfast … and likely much more.
These high leverage habits create a domino effect that will allow you to instill other good habits more easily. This means you will be utilizing even less of your precious discipline resources on habit instillation. Trying to instill too many difficult habits at once can lead to burnouts and breakdowns .. and likely a failure to instill any good habits!
Now keep in mind that this works exactly the opposite way for bad habits. One really bad habit can lead you down a dark spiral of many other bad habits. For instance, you can imagine how developing a drinking habit would likely not bode well for avoiding other poor habits. Developing an excessive web surfing habit can lead to purchasing things that you don’t need which can lead to …. I think you get the idea. Therefore, if you want to spend your valuable willpower eliminating one poor habit, pick one that leads to other poor habits, and you can perhaps eliminate them all with just the effort it took to eliminate that one.
Implementing Keystone Habits into Your Life
There are three characteristics of positive keystone habits that set them apart from other habits:
- They provide a sense of victory.
- They act as the soil from which other habits grow.
- They give us the energy and confidence to do more.
Now it’s time to identify and implement a few keystone habits into your life so you can achieve the results you’re seeking. What are some habits that you can integrate into your life that will lead you to other positive habits? Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Going to sleep early provides you with the energy to perform other positive habits.
- Getting up early when there are no distractions can lead you to exercise.
- Meditation can lead you to yoga which can lead you to mindful thinking patterns.
- Planning your day leads to working on your other habits if you schedule them in.
- Journaling can lead you to some inspiring ideas that will lead you to other great ideas.
- Instilling a habit of practicing gratitude will lead you to other positive mindsets.
Once you’ve chosen your keystone habits, decide on an accountability strategy such as a habit tracking app or a life coach to keep you on track.
Transform your Life Using Keystone Habits
A keystone in the center of an arch holds the rest of the frame, and without it, everything immediately crumbles. Similarly, keystone habits support the rest of your habits in life. With their support, everything seems to fall into place more effortlessly and efficiently.
Take that first step in building the pillars that support your arch (your goals) by creating your keystone habits today. What keystone habit do you want to implement into your daily life? Tell us in the comments below!
I didn’t know about keystone habits before but now I will definitely be implementing them!