This is the time of season where gym membership enrollment goes through the roof. I am sure self-help books are flying off the shelves right now too. We are telling ourselves that this is going to be the year that we get work and life and everything in between, in order. 

But if we have failed in the last umpteen consecutive years, how can we insure that this year will be any different? I am going to suggest we all pull from a concept that Charles Duhigg defines in his book The Power of Habit. It is the simple and easy to follow concept of building a "keystone habit" into your every day.

Keystone habits are super achievable

When I first instituted a keystone habit into my life three years back, I wasn't a believer. It seemed too easy. I figured to make changes in my behavior or form a new game changing habit, it had to start with a lofty goal, driven by a relentless desire to achieve it. Nope. I was proven wrong.

I set my keystone habit to be drinking a glass of water every morning. In a previous year, I had given up that warm, uplifting morning cup of joe. Drinking a glass of water, I thought, would remove that urge to fall off the wagon, again. And it worked. From there, I started seeing a chain reaction of other behavioral changes. 

Keystone habits create a chain reaction

Here's the greatest benefit of establishing a key stone habit. It will be the simple thread that ties all other habits together. It's the linchpin, or let's say center pin in bowling. If you can serve up your day like a bowling ball, and direct it at hitting that center pin, there's a good chance you will knock down all the pins, or vast majority at the very least.

For me, my second pin was reading. I set a goal of reading a book every month, which seemed impossible with my busy schedule and stress levels. After I grabbed my glass of water, I sat it next to my designated reading chair where my book was awaiting me every morning. And it worked. The momentum shifted and I grew confidence to take on more change.

Keystone habits build momentum to make bigger changes

Once you have executed your keystone habit for two weeks straight, don't get a big head. I surely did. It felt so good to experience a life of discipline, even if it was just drinking a glass of water each morning. The reality is that it will takes months, if not years, of this repetition to successfully build in that keystone habit. Be patient with yourself.

But, once the keystone habit is in place, you now have the foundation to go up the food change and consume bigger behavioral changes. This could be heading to the gym, completing 30 minutes of meditation each morning or simply writing down the 2-3 outcomes you want to see accomplished that day.

Keystone habits will transform everything for you

Charles Duhigg states that "keystone habits influence how we work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate", and they "start a process that, over time, transforms everything." Once you put into practice the keystone habit, you will radically improve your health, your work, and your relationships..and take on whatever the new year throws at you.

So go on...get that glass of water each morning, and get your life headed in a positive direction starting with executing your new keystone habit.

Published on: Dec 22, 2017