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. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change. – Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

What are keystone habits and how can they help you change and build better habits? Small shifts can lead to dramatic change.Keystone habits, according to Charles Duhigg, are habits that give “small wins [that] fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.” Incremental change is the best approach, and keystone habits are the increments that have the biggest impact.

Start your week strong: Focus on keystone habits
What are keystone habits and how can they help you change and build better habits? Small shifts can lead to dramatic change.

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SO039: Focus on Keystone Habits

Top 3 Keystone Habits

So, if keystone habits are so critical, which habits are keystones? I’ve seen lists of 7 or 10 or 5, but I picked my top 3 that I can personally attest and commend.

1. Exercise

Sorry, but it’s true. I am not fond of exercising. I wish I didn’t have to, just like I wish I didn’t have to do the laundry. But, it’s as essential. It is the keystone habit that will increase your energy, stamina, and positivity.

We only neglect our bodies to our own detriment.

2. Make Your Bed

I grew up as one who thought bed-making was a waste of time. I kicked and protested the recommendations to start organizing efforts with making my bed for years into my adulthood.

Finally, I decided the recommendation was so ubiquitous and my need to make change so great that it was foolish to think I knew better or was an exception. I gradually built making my bed into a daily habit.

A made bed is an identity statement about the kind of person you are. If you want to become a more neat and orderly person, start with making your bed every morning. It really does change your thinking and your feeling about yourself and your home. It doesn’t seem logical or rational, but it’s true.

3. Family meals

Eating together as a family is a ritual that fosters togetherness, communication, and shared life experience. Eating together is a symbolic act, nourishing relationships as much as bodies.

In our world of soccer practices, dance teams, late work nights, and social obligations, it is difficult to carve out the time to sit down together and share a meal. However, you can start small with a family Saturday breakfast or a mid-afternoon Sunday supper. Find a way to sit, talk, and eat all together as a family unit and reap all the unexpected consequences it has been documented to promote: emotional stability, family connection, good grades, and more.

All three of these small habits pay off big over the long haul.

So as you go out into your week, focus on keystone habits and see how small shifts can lead to dramatic results over time.

Dump all those swirling thoughts out of your head.

Yes, simply writing it all down will help to
  • Reduce stress by getting your thoughts onto paper
  • Reduce frustration by assigning homes to stuff, tangible & intangible
  • Reduce anxiety by knowing what you have on your plate

Declutter your head.


  1. I think my biggest one is to go to bed at a reasonable hour and to get up before the kids are up for prayer. Otherwise I’m trying to pray my morning prayers with a three year old and an 11 month old climbing all over me and it just isn’t the sort of restful and peaceful prayer experience I need to start my day well.

    The family dinner habit is so engrained in my family… it seems impossible to imagine not doing it! But it was also a cornerstone when I was a child, and in my husband’s family as well.

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