🌼Building ‘Keystone Habits’ Is The Fastest Way To Self-Improvement(UNFORGETTABLE)
Let the ripple effect of these 4 keystone habits work its magic in all areas of your life.
Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, coined the term ‘keystone habits’. Keystone habits differ from ordinary habits because they spark chain reactions that help other good habits take place.
In other words, following one keystone habit triggers a positive ripple effect that automatically leads to multiple productive behaviors.
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That’s the core idea behind keystone habits.
This means you don’t have to practice dozens of habits to improve your life. No need to get overwhelmed by everything you’re ‘supposed’ to do according to the gurus.
Just follow a few keystone habits — tackle the big dominos — and they automatically trigger a ripple effect of positive, productive behaviors.
Who said self-improvement had to be complicated?
Keystone Habit 1: Exercise
Exercise is one of the most powerful keystone habits. Research shows that regular exercise (about 3x per week) leads to healthier eating habits, better sleep, increased emotional control, less stress, better mood, and increased productivity at work.
This is why exercise is such a powerful keystone habit. It causes a huge ripple effect throughout your entire life:
Exercise → Better Sleep → Increased Productivity + Better Mood
Exercise → Healthier Eating Habits → More Energy → Increased Productivity
Exercise → Less Stress → Better Emotional Control + Better Mood
Personally, I love weightlifting. It’s the one habit that glues everything together for me.
When I work out, life just seems to be better. I never leave the gym feeling worse. If my day is a 7 out of 10, a workout upgrades it to an 8 out of 10.
It makes me feel more energized and motivated to pursue my goals, I feel less stressed, and it sparks a ton of confidence. All in all, exercise is a powerful keystone habit that creates a strong ripple effect throughout your entire life.
Keystone Habit 2: Sleep
Hustle culture says you need to sacrifice sleep in order to succeed. I say, screw that. If you want to upgrade your life, you need to start prioritizing sleep. It’s the foundation of a highly productive day.
“Eight hours of sleep makes a big difference for me, and I try hard to make that a priority. For me, that’s the needed amount to feel energized and excited.” — Jeff Bezos
Research shows you’ll be more energized, productive, and in a better mood after a good night’s sleep. This automatically triggers a range of productive behaviors.
Better Sleep → Increased Energy → Increased Productivity
Better Sleep → Better Mood → Less Stress
One study reported that, on average, people who get 5–6 hours of sleep are 19% less productive than those who get 7–8 hours of sleep per night. Even worse, those who sleep less than 5 hours per night tend to be 29% less productive.
This is because lack of sleep also triggers a ripple effect — a negative ripple effect. Research shows lack of sleep leads to fatigue, brain fog, impaired cognitive performance, and low willpower. This leads to unwanted behaviors such as procrastination, lack of focus, and irritability.
Lack of Sleep → Brain Fog → Irritability + Lack of Focus
Lack of Sleep → Low Willpower → Procrastination
All in all, sleep is one of the most powerful habits. When you make it a priority, you’ll find other productive and positive behaviors flow more easily. And when you neglect it, it can trigger a range of negative behaviors that limit your productivity, performance, and happiness.
Read also: 6 secrets to being more productive each day
Keystone Habit 3: Meditation
Meditation is another powerful keystone habit that causes a domino effect of positive behavior.
Research has shown that regular meditation influences the density of gray matter in the brain. In other words, your brain physically changes because of meditation — this is called ‘neuroplasticity.’
For example, research shows meditation decreases the amount of gray matter in the amygdala, which is the area of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response.
This is why regular meditation reduces stress and anxiety and increases emotional control. This, in turn, helps you make better decisions (especially in stressful situations) and overall be in a better mood.
Meditation → Decreased Stress/Anxiety → Better Mood
Meditation → Increased Emotional Control → Better Decision-Making
Furthermore, studies show regular meditation increases the amount of gray matter in the pre-frontal cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for willpower, decision-making, planning, and attention.
Therefore, regular meditation leads to increased focus, better decision-making, and higher productivity.
Meditation → Increased Willpower → Less Procrastination
Meditation → Increased Attention → Better Focus → Higher Productivity
All in all, meditation is a powerful keystone habit that leads to a range of positive effects and productive behaviors.
The benefits in increased cognitive performance and decreased emotional reactivity it provides makes us feel and perform better in every aspect of our lives.
It’s truly a modern-day superpower.
Keystone Habit 4: Daily Planning
How you spend your time is how you spend your life. And the most effective way to control your time is through daily planning.
You see, most people say they want to earn more money, have a better relationship, build a fitter body, and achieve big goals. But for most people, it stays an intention. They never make any real progress towards these goals.
This is because most people fail to turn their intentions into highly specific plans. But no matter how motivated you are, if you want to succeed at something, you need to plan for it.
Studies have shown that turning an intention into a specific plan makes you 3x more likely to do it (the follow-through rate increased from 34% to 91%).
This is because planning leads to clarity and accountability, which lead to productivity.
Daily Planning → Increased Clarity → Increased Productivity
Daily Planning → Increased Accountability → Increased Productivity
To paraphrase the conclusion of a Harvard study; people mistakenly believe that their strong intentions are enough to propel them to perform desired behaviors.
In other words, no matter how motivated you are to do something, don’t leave it as an intention, but turn it into a specific plan. By leaving it as an abstract intention, you’ll leave your performance up to chance. And that’s what amateurs do.
For example, if you want to exercise more, plan all your workouts for the upcoming week. If you want to write more on Medium, plan all your writing sessions for the upcoming month. And if you want to read more books, plan a daily reading session.
All in all, daily planning is a powerful keystone habit because the mere act of planning makes you much more likely to follow through with each activity.
CONTRIBUTED BY Jari Roomer
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