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The Power of Keystone Habits

Habits — we all have them.

Some of them are good (frequent exercise, regularly writing thank-you notes to loved ones, checking in with your grandparents), some are bad (biting your nails, leaving the dishes in the sink for just a little too long, letting text messages sit unanswered for weeks at a time), and some are just plain ugly (we’ll let you fill in the details). 

Believe it or not, though, some habits are more important than others because they have the power to influence other areas of your life. Not sure what we mean? We’re talking about keystone habits.  The right keystone habit can start a chain reaction of positive change in your life. Keystone habits lead to the development of multiple good habits.

You may have already heard of common keystone habits such as making your bed in the morning, having regular dinners with your family, or journaling. Still, many of us struggle with making the time and achieving the balance necessary to achieve our goals. Let’s take a look at why that may be…

Even though we may have one or several good habits, we may still be allowing an unproductive (dare we say “bad?”) keystone habit to stay rooted in our lives, such as reaching for our phone before we even get out of bed or flicking on the TV every night right after dinner. Both of these examples can domino into other bad habits, like spending 30 minutes scrolling through social media instead of lacing up our sneakers in the morning or indulging in late-night snacking as we get hypnotized by the fantasy lives and TV commercials on the tube.

As you embark on this new year, identify one unproductive keystone habit that is not serving you, then replace that habit with one that will challenge you to do something different. Here are some examples that may address some of the common struggles that many of us are plagued with:

  • Buy a simple alarm clock to keep on your nightstand. When you wake up in the morning, you won’t have to reach for your phone to shut off the alarm, minimizing the temptation to check your email or see what is trending on social media.
  • Put on your sneakers when you get in the door at the end of the day or immediately after dinner. It may not be enough to make you want to go all the way to the gym, but it might just offer motivation enough to walk around the block a couple of times. And that’s a win!
  • Choose an interesting hobby that can replace one or two hours of TV time each week. Consider a challenging new pastime like crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, or crocheting. These activities stimulate our brains to create new neuropathways. 
  • Swap out your usual TV selection for a documentary once a week. Bonus points if it’s about health and wellness — there are tons of those available!
  • Attend a free class at a local gym, spin, or yoga studio. These classes are easy to find in the early part of the year. You may just find yourself loving a new kind of movement!

December 31, 2019 seems very far away, but before you know it we will be saying, “Where did this year go?” How do you want to end the year? You have the power to control your habits, which is pretty beautiful! And if you need some support in the process, Jyoti Within offers workshops on many related topics. 

What kinds of keystone habits can you prioritize in your own life? Tell us on Facebook or Instagram!

Featured image: sydney Rae/Unsplash; Change image: Ross Findon/Unsplash