What are Keystone Habits?
According to Charles Duhigg, keystone habits create a chain reaction; changing and rearranging your other habits as you integrate the habit into your life. They have 3 characteristics: they give you numerous small senses of victory; they serve as the soil from which other habits grow; and they give you energy and confidence to do more. “Keystone habits influence how we work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate”, and they “start a process that, over time, transforms everything.”
Duhigg named three characteristics of keystone habits that you should pay attention to:
- Keystone habits give you “numerous, small senses of victory”. Look out for habits and routines that provide you with a pattern of small wins. According to Duhigg, “small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves”, and these are “places where momentum can start to build”. Small wins “fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince you that bigger achievements are within reach”.
- Keystone habits are “the soil from which other habits grow”. Keystone habits aren’t just a new habit, like drinking water right after you wake up; they’re a platform off of which other habits can grow. For example, I work out every morning at 6 am. This started as a new habit, but over time my morning workout has spawned other productive habits, like drinking a pre-workout drink, eating an apple before the gym, stretching in the morning, and preparing a protein shake and a healthy breakfast afterwards. I’ve even recently started to define my three outcomes for the day while I’m on the treadmill in the morning.
- Keystone habits give you energy and confidence to do more. “Moments when excellence—or change, or perseverance, or some other virtue—seems to become contagious. Keystone habits are powerful because they change our sense of self and our sense of what is possible”. Keystone habits don’t simply stop providing you with energy and motivation after you finish up with your routine; they provide you with an infectious drive to be better and get done long after you’re done.