My Dad called me the other day, and he said something that made me so proud. He said, "today is the first day of the rest of my life." He had adopted a keystone habit, and he was starting to see the results of that change. The keystone habit is the habit you select that invites in other positive habits.

I love hearing people excited about their future because on any day you can decide that your past is your past. You can always move forward and change who you are.

You can be physically in jail, but no one can mentally jail you without your permission. My dad reminded me that we all have to gift to choose our mentality each day.

Adopting a keystone habit is the easiest way to start making significant changes to your life to make changes that stick. When it comes to building habits, its important you understand the keystone habit to the fullest. 

Adopting a keystone habit is the easiest way to start making significant changes to your life to make changes that stick.

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The Obstacle to All Habits ?

I want to start with the issue of adopting any new habit. Maybe you feel like you have tried to choose a new practice but did not get the results you wanted. 

Success is not an overnight thing. As a society, we tend to fall in love with microwave success. We want it to come quickly even if it tastes terrible.

You have to challenge yourself to get out of that mindset. I refuse to believe that someone can workout every day for 5 years while eating healthy and see no results. Sometimes a lack of results is just because of a lack of patience.

  • Patience Is Key

When Building Habits You Need to Embrace The Keystone Habit ?

Some habits are so powerful that they force you to adopt other positive habits. It's almost impossible to embrace the habit without allowing others into your life.

Here is why this matters:

  • All Habits are not made equal

  • Keystone Habits are worth focusing on first

We don't live in a world where everyone starts from a similar place. Even in Disney movies, some people start from disadvantage and the same is true of habits. Keystone habits make it much easier to build other habits.

If you know that some habits are worth more than that it's a great place to start, right? Unfortunately, we know this is true, but we often don't do this. Look at your daily task list. How often do you have one crucial task and yet you skirt around it to do easier things?

The Keystone habit is the starting place because it opens the doors. It leaves you with the map to the promised land.

  • Find One Habit That You Can Use As A Foundation

Understanding Habit Stacking ?

Habit Stacking is a form of developing new habits. To Habit Stack, you build habits on top of each other. Instead of using a cue to eat breakfast like being hungry. You use another habit like reading the morning paper.

You must have a basic understanding of Habit Stacking. Your keystone habit will help you start your habit stack. Not only are you using this habit to create other positive changes. You are also using it as the cue to make those changes.

The idea behind habit stacking is that you build as many habits on each other as you can. This is how I became good at building habits and had no idea it had a name.

  • Once You Have Your Foundation You Can Now Add Other Habits On Top Of It

What is The Best Keystone Habit? ?

There are only a few general keystone habits. Each career path or skill can have its specific keystone habits. For example, I think learning to dorsiflex when you sprint is a keystone habit for running fast.

  • Making your bed in the morning

  • Waking up early

  • Saving Money

  • Working out

Now think about how much all these habits can change your life and create other positive habits.

Making your bed in the morning is one of the best ways to start the day productively. Saving money is relieves financial stress and invites new opportunity. Working out often leads to eating healthier. Waking up in the morning creates space to perform other good habits.

Waking up early wins every time because you can do it daily and keep it in your control. Working out is a close second, but the type of lifestyle can rule it out for Habit Stacking. If you like to work out at lunch, for example, that is not the best for Habit Stacking.

  • Wake Up Early

Waking Up Earlier is One of The Most Powerful Keystone Habits ?

You don't have to be up at any crazy times. You need to be up early enough to create some space in your day. No need to wake up and rush into the shower and out the door for work. That is not the way to start your day.

If you get up an hour earlier, you can slow down and use that time in the morning to stack a few habits. It may start off looking like this:

  1. Wake up an hour earlier

  2. Read for 15 minutes

  3. 25 push-ups

  4. Record a 10-minute podcast

  5. Eat breakfast

  6. Shower

  7. Out the door

This is an example. You have no reason to forget a habit because it comes right after another habit. The goal is to get as many habits done in the time you have as possible without rushing.

  • Finding Time To Wake Up Earlier Sets Up Your Entire Day

Four Laws of Habit Stacking ?

  1. Stack
  2. Start
  3. Schedule
  4. Show up

Four letter-S-words that you need to lock in to build habits. The system is simple to follow, and it can't be beaten if you are hungry enough to lock in on your new keystone have.

Stack - lets you know that you will be Habit Stacking. Your goal is to build habits on top of each other as you can in the allotted time.

Start- Your keystone habit will be in how you start the day. You will wake up at the same time each day and let that be the cue to begin the rest of your habits.

Schedule - Plan to block off the first half-hour of your day at least. That is a tonne of time when you think about. You can get three 10 minute habits done at that time. Once you block this time protect that block.

Show up - You an get the other three things right, but it will mean nothing if you don't show up. You need to be invested in your habits, and the best way to do that is to make sure that you wake up and do them.

There is no tricks or short cuts when building habits. 

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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