Keystone Habits

This past week I read a book called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. In it he made the point that some habits function as essentially “gateway habits” much in the way of a gateway drug.

These keystone habits make it easier to do other habits, whether for good or ill.

For example, you might start exercising and really sticking with it. That gives you the energy you want/need to get that longer to-do list done that has just been piling up. Or on the flip side, you might be a smoker, which decreases lung capacity, making it less likely you work out or have the energy to do the things you really want to do.

There’s some real science behind this and I’ve experienced it personally as well. Going into this book, I knew a bit about keystone habits from reviews I’d read and was really looking forward to finding mine. Instead, I found out I was already doing it: exercise. By getting up early in the mornings and working out I am giving myself the energy and state of mind to do the things that need doing later in the day.

But now I know that is my keystone and I’ve made the link. So I am much more likely to follow through, knowing now that more than my waistline rides on whether or not I work out.

Exercising can be a keystone habit for a lot of people. Tim Ferris tells a story of Richard Branson, founder/chairman of the Virgin Group in which when he was asked how to become more productive, he responded: work out.

So how about you? What is your keystone habit? What is it that you do that proves to be a gateway for all other kinds of habits, good or bad? Does this knowledge help you do it more often/refrain from it? Please share in the comments.

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