One Habit to Rule Them All

People have all kinds of habits: good, bad, and really bad. But what makes one habit better or worse than another? How can we form the best habits that will have real impacts on our lives and the way we live? If you’ve read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, then you already know what a “keystone habit” is and how to use one. If you haven’t, keep reading and find out how keystone habits can transform your life and change it for good every day.

What Is a Habit?

Let’s start with the simplest building block of habit knowledge, the habit itself. A habit is defined in a few different ways by Merriam-Webster:

  • “A settled tendency or usual manner of behavior.”
  • “An acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.”
  • “An addiction.”
  • “A behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that becomes more regular or increases ease of performance.”

Habits, as we all know, can be good, bad, or somewhere in between; most of us have strong feelings about personal or business habits. Here are some examples of good habits:

  • Daily exercise.
  • Eating healthy.
  • Good hygiene.

Here are some examples of bad habits:

  • Biting your nails.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Turning on the television when you should be studying or working.

Keystone habits, according to Duhigg, are different than your standard good or bad habits and can be used to create a sort of baseline for good habits, transforming your life and leading you to make other good habits instead of bad ones. Let’s take a closer look at keystone habits and how they work.

What Is a Keystone Habit?

A keystone is an architectural term meaning the centermost stone in an arch that holds the whole arch together through a delicate balancing act. A keystone habit is correlated with other good habits, as you may have found in your daily life. For example, if you eat well, you may find it easier to exercise more, and if you exercise more, you may find you crave healthy foods. Keystone habits don’t directly cause a major change in your life but can subtly set off a habit chain reaction that allows you to make other good habits. Here are some examples of simple keystone habits you can establish to make your life and your performance in life better:

  • Making your bed in the morning.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Tracking food and drink you consume.
  • Developing daily routines.
  • Meditating.
  • Planning out the day.
  • Practicing self-discipline.
  • Having family or friend dinners.

Why Is a Keystone Habit Life-Changing?

Keystone habits don’t seem life-changing on the surface to many people, but with practice and observation, their transformational power becomes clear. Keystone habits can do the following for you, according to Duhigg:

  • Create small victories every day.
  • Act as a catalyst for other good habits.
  • Provide you with energy, momentum, and confidence to succeed.

Who couldn’t use all of this in their daily lives? Duhigg’s “habit loop” is made up of a cue, a routine, and the reward that comes with completing that habit. Small victories help you accomplish things throughout the day, engage in further good habits, and see ongoing progress in your life. Before, things may have been muddled with no clear path forward. Keystone habits help you organize your life so you can more readily understand and manipulate it to achieve your goals. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

How to Use a Keystone Habit Daily

A recent study found that 45% of all human behavior is habit-driven, so what we say, do, think, and feel are often driven by habit. You may have experienced this when you respond on autopilot to a typical question, such as, “How are you?” from your barista. You may automatically say, “Great, how are you?” even though your car broke down on the way to work that morning. Daily habits are the strongest habits — practice makes perfect, and habits require repetition. Keystone habits can help you actively set goals, manage your time effectively, feel grateful for your life, and learn new skills.

HabitCoach can help you by establishing your goal first and then suggesting great keystone habits that can get you closer to your goal.

As Jim Rohn said, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Keystone habits and HabitCoach can help you become motivated and keep on going no matter what comes your way.

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