Some good habits are better than others.
Because they create a spillover effect that improves every other area of your life.
The folks that study this kind of thing call these keystone habits.
Researchers who study habits have noticed some curious things: namely that when a person begins to A (good habit), they will quite effortlessly begin to do B (another good habit). It turns out that some habits make you a better person in seemingly unrelated areas.
For example, studies have shown that people who begin an exercise regimen also reduce their credit card spending, save more money, and are nicer to their kids. In the wonderful book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, author Charles Duhigg puts it this way:
“When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed.”
This is really mind-blowing isn’t it?
For one thing, if you’re having a hard time motivating yourself to exercise. Tell yourself that you’re doing it for the kids. (And take them with you, our kids are way too sedentary these days.)
What keystone habits can you develop that will create a ripple effect in your life?
A few examples:
- Sleeping 8 hours each night
- Getting up early
- Killing procrastination
- Eliminating negative talk
- Cleaning your sink, a la Flylady (great example of a keystone habit that creates spillover – nobody is going to clean their sink and leave the entire kitchen nasty)
My keystone habit may not be the same as yours, so this takes some digging. Here’s an excellent article at LifeHacker written by – wait for it – Charles Duhigg, the author of – wait for it – The Power of Habits on identifying your keystone habits. Turns out keystone habits have 3 main characteristics.
My keystone habits are a) waking early and b) daily movement. (I dislike the term exercise – exercise is a snack whereas movement is a healthy meal – my daily movement consists of walking or hiking, stretching, hanging and practicing my pull-up, push-ups, planks, etc).
Waking early makes my other habits possible and makes me feel more relaxed with my kids all day, because I’m not stressed about the important stuff I couldn’t get to once they awake. And movement makes me feel more energetic and happy.