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Keystone Habits


In the book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, he defined keystone habits as…

“small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”

That’s great, but how does this differ from a regular old habit?  A search on Google quickly provides this definition for habit:

“a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”

Notice the difference here.  A keystone habit is one that unintentionally carries over into other aspects of your life where a habit is simply something you do over and over that doesn’t necessarily have an impact on other parts of your life.  With this in mind, we need to look for those keystone habits that can make a big difference in our lives and move us in the direction we want to go.  Let’s look at three keystone habits that can change our lives for the better.

1.  Eat Dinner As A Family

With our busy lifestyles and all the demands on our lives, it can be tough to eat dinner together as a family.  In too many families, parents will provide the food, everyone grabs their plates, fills up, and goes different directions.  Or maybe we eat together, but we tend to move away from the kitchen table and into our living rooms or bedrooms to watch a show, or play a game.  This means we are not talking about our days and not building the relationships we need to build with each other.   Implementing this one keystone habit can have a huge impact on your family dynamics and relationships.  Mr. Duhigg wrote,

“Families who habitually eat dinner together seem to raise children with better homework skills, higher grades, greater emotional control, and more confidence.”

2.  Make Your Bed Every Morning

Some people tend to wonder why they should make their bed every morning.  Their thoughts are that there is no need to make it since they will be getting back into bed that night.  This is the wrong way to think.  By making your bed in the morning, you immediately check something off your to do list.  You set the tone for a day of accomplishing things.  If you can’t even check off that you made your bed, what tone are you setting for the day?  I say, set a positive tone for the day and take two minutes to make your bed.  Mr. Duhigg wrote,

“Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested.”

3.  Exercise Regularly

I am sure you are tired of hearing it by now but you MUST exercise regularly.  You need to make it a daily habit to get your workout in. In my opinion, the best way to make this happen is to knock it out first thing in the morning.  When you make it a part of your routine to work out in the morning, you have a better chance of getting it done.  Too many things can come up throughout the day that can throw you off and make it difficult to get the workout in.  But in the morning, there are less things that can interfere with your workout, especially since most other people are sleeping  .  Not to mention that once you work out in the morning, you set a healthy tone for the day.  You will be more likely to eat healthier and make healthier choices throughout the day.


Too many times people get overwhelmed by trying to create too many habits at one time and end up failing as they just can’t keep up with all the changes they are making in their lives.  Not only do they create too many habits, but the wrong kind of habits.  We need to focus on keystone habits that can change our lives.  These keystone habits will not only have a direct impact on the task at hand, but also have huge impacts in other areas of our lives.  I only mentioned three keystone habits in this post, but there are many, many more out there.  Look at your life, identify where you need to improve, and find the keystone habits that will move you in a positive direction.

It wasn’t until right now that the Eat Dinner As A Family really hit me.  My family and I haven’t done that in a while.  We just fell out of the habit of eating dinner at the kitchen table together.  I work out in the evenings and don’t typically eat dinner until 8 or 9pm.  I am gonna to look to make a change today.  I will talk with my wife and plan an earlier dinner.  Perhaps I will even move my workouts to early morning rather than after work each night.  Look at that, two keystone habits that I can make a change towards which I believe will have a positive impact on my life and those in it.  I will let you know how they go!!!

If you want to pick up The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, you can get it here via my affiliate link:

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