You have probably known someone who, with seemingly no effort, managed to change their life. In no time, they gained confidence, looked better, seemed smarter, and performed better in most aspects of life. While it seems they have done the impossible, it’s more likely they exploited a keystone habit. You can do the same. Here’s how.
Let’s have a look at what keystone habits are, why they can help you improve, a list of the best keystone habits, and how you can use them for self-improvement.
What is a keystone habit?
Keystone habits are the foundation of your routines. It’s the most powerful type of habit. These habits cause ripples across all areas of your life, which might begin to change much more than just the habit itself.
The kind of impact your keystone habits have on your life depends on the behaviors. A good keystone habit will, in the end, lead to things such as more energy, better self-esteem, feeling happier, and higher productivity, while a bad one has the opposite effects.
Building a good keystone habit is often the easiest place to start your self-improvement journey or take it to the next level.
Why keystone habits can change your life
Keystone habits are the most powerful type of habit. Forming one of these will have a significant impact on your life. Let’s have a look at the three reasons why.
High impact habits
Keystone habits are high impact habits that are bound to have a positive effect on your life. These habits will no matter how your life looks, make it better.
Related: The best habits for self-improvement
They make further change possible
When you develop a good keystone habit, the foundation for all your routines and behaviors elevates. This makes it possible to continue improving and reach a higher level.
A big part of self-improvement is reaching these different levels, getting established there, and then moving toward the next level.
Keystone habits allow you to accumulate many small wins. With the right attitude, every time you make your bed, hit the gym, or read, it’ll give you the feeling of a win. When you accumulate these, you’ll see your self-esteem improve, and it’ll be easier to do other difficult things in the future.
Most people struggle to hold on to the feeling of success when they’ve done something enough times. You can try to remind yourself how difficult it was at first and how far you’ve come to keep the feeling.
What are the best keystone habits?
We have looked at what keystone habits are and why they can change your life. Now it’s time to look at some examples. Here is a list of the 10 best keystone habits.
Hitting the gym, running, yoga, and team sports are all forms of working out. It’s one of the best habits you can develop, and it’s impossible to make this list without including it here. This habit has benefits such as:
- Improved mental health
- Higher self-esteem
- Less stressed
- Feeling happier
- Improve sleep
- Accumulate daily small wins
- And much more
And working out isn’t just great for making you feel better and elevating your foundation. It’s one of the most effective keystone habits to cause a ripple effect throughout your life. Many experience an improvement in sleep-, productivity-, diet-, and self-care habits as a reaction to working out.
When we think of journaling, most people tend to think about the classic diary. Some are put off by this and don’t give it a chance. That’s a shame.
There are countless types, combinations, and styles of journaling. Each type and style brings different benefits. Journaling can:
- Heal trauma
- Increase productivity
- Help you reach your goals
- Improve sleep
- Calm the mind
- Calm anxiety
- And much more
And besides all the benefits, it’s one of the most simple and least time-demanding keystone habits on this list.
Buy your next journal, here
If you’re always just doing what you feel like in the moment, you might experience that you’ll do the easy thing most of the time unless forced by a looming deadline.
Spending time on your phone, watching Netflix, or playing video games requires less mental effort while providing a faster dopamine hit (reward) than deep work, working out, or reading.
Most people don’t schedule their time, and the majority of those waste most of their time doing these easy pointless behaviors. They do this while they neglect the things that could bring them real happiness in the long run.
When you first begin scheduling, it might feel constricting. But as you continue to practice and get used to it, you might find that it actually gives you more freedom and eliminates a lot of the anxiety you might be feeling for delaying the more important tasks. You don’t have to schedule every minute of every day. It can be as simple as scheduling activities on certain days.
Most of us had to read a lot of books that we had no interest in throughout our years in school. This made us believe that reading is boring when in reality, it was the books we were forced to read that didn’t interest us. That’s a shame.
Believe it or not, reading can be fun if you find books that fit your interests, and as a bonus, it’s a great way to learn. Books can teach you about people, psychology, business, science, history, philosophy, and much more. It’s a great tool for widening your horizon and learning new skills.
Today most people find that being focused on one thing can be difficult. Reading requires a high level of concentration and is a great tool for training this. Reading has been proven to increase focus, attention span, and memory.
To sum it up, reading is a great tool for entertainment, learning, and improving cognitive capabilities.
Meditation is the practice of being fully present with your thoughts and feelings without reacting. It’s the practice of acceptance and being.
Having the habit of meditating can decrease anxiety, stress, and depression. It can improve sleep, concentration, and overall satisfaction with life. And it doesn’t have to be complicated.
You can practice anywhere at any time. It can be as simple as sitting down while waiting for the bus and focusing on your breath. While your focus is on your breath, all you have to do is accept whatever is going on inside of you. When you start to lose focus, bring it back to your breath and stay here as long as you’d like.
Most people hate stretching when they first try it. It’s painful, uncomfortable, and difficult to relax in at first. But with experience, you can relax and find peace in a way that’s difficult to do anywhere else, and it makes your body feel great when you’re finished. It teaches you to be okay with being uncomfortable, a skill you can bring in other parts of your life.
A great way to begin stretching is to practice yoga. You can find a local yoga studio or practice at home with a free lesson on Youtube. Yin Yoga and restorative are my personal favorites. This slow yoga allows you to not just get some deep stretches but also to deeply relax. They’re great in the evening, just before going to bed.
Cooking at home
Ordering or buying ready-made food is a way many use to save energy. The ironic thing is that the reason why they need to save energy often stems from the lack of nutrition in their diet. Cooking your own meals is one of the best habits you can develop to improve your diet and restore that energy.
If you’ve never cooked before, you might find that this can be difficult at first. Find a couple of simple recipes, and practice these. Many use meal-prepping to avoid having to cook every day.
Having a sleep schedule
Sleep is the most important thing in our life. It’s where we rest and recover. Our mental and physical capabilities drastically decrease if we don’t sleep enough. It becomes harder to focus, be creative, or use our willpower. Despite the importance of sleep, it’s an area where most struggle.
Many find that it’s difficult to get to bed in the evening and that once they’re there, it’s difficult to fall asleep. There can be many reasons for this, but a common one is that the body doesn’t have a clue when it’s time to go to sleep.
A way to teach the body when to sleep is to have a sleeping schedule. When you wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, your body will slowly ease into this rhythm. It’ll be tired when it’s time for bed and wake up easier in the morning. When you get your sleep under control, it’ll be easier to change other things in your life.
Going for a walk outside is a great way to get sun, exercise, and destress. It can help you feel happier and do deep thinking. Despite the benefits, many avoid this activity because it bores them.
If you think walking is boring, you can pair it with something you enjoy. You can listen to an audiobook, music, a podcast, or walk with a friend. Having another reward for the activity you don’t enjoy, can trick your brain into thinking that you like it.
Making your bed
When you start your day by making your bed, you have a good routine. You can make your bed, no matter where you are or your circumstances. A habit that you can do every single day is a perfect trigger habit to build new habits and create your morning routine on top of.
Besides being a great trigger habit, it gives you the opportunity to start every day with a win and a successful task. When you have started with a success, you might find it easier to be productive and stay disciplined throughout the day.
Making your bed is probably the least time-consuming keystone habit on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s the least effective.
Related: Build habits with habit stacking
How to use keystone habits for self-improvement
Using keystone habits to improve yourself is no different than when you do it with regular habits. To do it, you have to go through 2 steps.
Find the right habit
The easiest way to find the right keystone habit is to imagine the kind of person that you want to become. Imagine what their day looks like and which habits are at the core of their routines. When you have an idea about this, you can pick the behavior that seems most important.
Remember, your life will never look exactly like in your fantasies. When we improve, we evolve, and things change. It’s not a failure if you don’t end up where you thought you would. It’s proof of growth.
Related: Identity based habits
Form the habit
When you have your habit, it’s time to form it. Your approach to this depends on your personality, your routine, and which habit it is. If you want to learn more about how to form habits, you can do so here.
A keystone habit is the most powerful type and the core of personal growth. When you develop one of these, you elevate your foundation and make further change possible.
Keystone habits look different to all of us, and the habit that helped me might not help you in the same way. However, there are a few habits that can help all of us. Those habits are included in the list above this.
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