by James Clear
There are certain habits and routines that make success easier, regardless of the circumstances you face.
In fact, you may already practice some of these habits, even though you are unaware of it right now.
But most importantly, if you understand how to harness these habits, then you can drastically improve your health, your work, and your relationships … and start living the life you deserve.
The Keystone Habit
In Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, he discusses the idea of keystone habits.
We have habits everywhere in our lives, but certain routines — keystone habits — lead to a cascade of other actions because of them.
A few months ago, I started to notice a funny thing.
When I worked out, I wanted to eat better. Even though I could have rewarded myself with chocolate bars and ice cream, I felt like eating real, healthy foods.
I also slept better. And when I was awake, I seemed more productive. Especially in the hour or two after working out, when my mind seemed to think clearer and my writing was crisper. Thoughts flowed easily.
When I didn’t exercise, however, I was more prone to eating junk food. I would stay up later working on unimportant tasks. I started to feel tension in my back. I didn’t check it, but my guess is that my blood pressure raised as a result of additional stress and no place to release it.
In other words, fitness is the keystone habit the puts the rest of my life in place. When I workout, other things naturally fall into place. I don’t have to think about eating better. I don’t have to force myself to focus on getting things done. Exercise naturally pushes me towards my best self.
What Are Your Keystone Habits?
I’m not always on top of my game, but on the days that I work out everything seems to come a little bit easier. And I’ll take all the help I can get as I continue my quest to become better.
Imagine how much easier and more fulfilling your lifestyle could be if you discovered one or two keystone habits that naturally put the rest of your life in place.
So often, we struggle to live the way we want to simply because we don’t have the willpower to make different decisions. Whether it’s having the discipline to eat healthy or the courage to take a risk or the energy to volunteer more often or the drive to perform better at work, we delay these choices — even though we know they are important — simply because we don’t have the willpower to make something new happen today.
Improving your lifestyle and becoming the type of person who “has their act together” isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. In fact, you might need just one keystone habit before the dominoes start falling everywhere.
What are you doing when everything falls into place? What is your keystone habit?
Find it and do more of it.
P.S. If you want more practical ideas for how to build new habits (and break bad ones), check out my book Atomic Habits, which will show you how small changes in habits can lead to remarkable results.