The 12 Most Common Keystone Habits

If You Have None, Pick One and Get Going!

Keystone habits are certain routines that lead to a cascade of other positive actions. They also create a structure that allows other habits to flourish.  In other words, keystone habits are a catalyst that can unleash a chain-reaction of habitual goodness!

If you aren’t able to determine what your keystone habits are, or you’ve looked and determined you don’t have any, then this short post is for you.

Charles  Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit” introduced the concept and spurred the interest in keystone habits.  After reading the examples he gives, I wondered of there might be a core set of keystone habits most commonly mentioned by others.  As it turns out, there are. Listed below are 12 of the most common ones I found:

  1. Family Dinners- these have major emotional, behavioral and material impact.
  2. Making your bed every morning- increases productivity with associated internal and external benefits.
  3. Tracking what you eat- people lose twice as much weight compared to those who don’t. 
  4. Regular exercise- often serves as a trigger to start eating better.
  5. Regular Rituals- the associated consistency and organization often jumps-starts progress in a variety of other areas.
  6. Meditation- the mental benefit is enormous, not to mention the spiritual benefit…..and no, you don’t have to be a buddhist to meditate…in fact, the book of Psalms is a primer on biblical meditation.
  7. Planning your day- preferability the night before.
  8. Visualization- mental rehearsal and preparing based on positive expectations (vs fantasies)
  9. Positive Thinking- since we say ~300 – 1000 words to ourselves a minute, make sure they have the right impact.
  10. Journaling- you’ll start noticing the smaller, but important things, that ultimately make you happier.
  11. Getting to bed or waking up earlier- results in more energy and being more efficient with the right things at the right time.
  12. Saving money- eliminates the trivial and reduces clutter.

One list included “willpower.” The problem is that willpower isn’t a habit. I do suppose you can make a habit of exercising will power. A key point to remember though, is that willpower is like a muscle. So when you exercise it, do so in a way that builds it and doesn’t wear it out. In fact, the more habits you build the less willpower you’ll need to expend.

Because keystone habits are defined by the effect they have on you, just about any habit can qualify. However, the ones listed above seem to be unique in that they come up in most of the most common keystone habit lists (like herehereherehere, and here). Putting in place a common keystone habit may be the quickest way to leverage progress in your life. After all, why re-invent the wheel?  It may also be the best way to find out whether you have a keystone habit that is unique to you.

Since our lives are filled with habits, you might as well make them count. Keystone habits are the best way to do that.

So, where are you at with keystone habits?  If your not, which keystone habit are you willing to experiment and what could it do for you if you did?

Please leave a comment and let me know how it goes!