Keystone habits help you create a lot of other habits without much struggle. It is similar to building a strong foundation which keeps the building strong. So what are the keystone habits which you can start with today?
Waking up early:
Do you feel like jogging when the sun stares into your eyes or when there is a lot of pollution? People don’t like to jog after it gets late in the morning. If you want to exercise outdoors, waking up early becomes a keystone habit. It not only helps in exercising, but also gives you sufficient time to plan for the day. The capacity of brain to make decisions is limited. So if you wake up early, you will be using your brain in productive work when it is most active after a good night’s sleep. If you want to do some reading or writing, mornings are the best. The other habits which follow this keystone habit are
Drinking a glass of water on empty stomach
Making task list
The habits which follow the keystone habit are the next level of keystone habits. Once you start exercising, you start eating healthy. When you make a task list, you tend to be more productive as you attend only the most important tasks for the day and end up being more organised without having to do anything more about it. Your creativity increases because you only think about the task at the hand.
Writing a journal:
It helps you connect with yourself. You can identify your strengths and weaknesses. It makes you better. It includes your goals, relations, career, food, expenses and everything. Hence it is a keystone habit. The other habits which you can develop through this are:
Tracking your goals
Pursuing whatever you wanted to
Improving your relations
Tracking your emotions
These are the two keystone habits which created a rippling effect in my life. I have started with only two because it is difficult to stick with more than two habits at a time.
Running, Jogging, Walking – A combination of these three is what begins my day. This new habit is a by-product of my key-stone habit of waking up early. If this habit is only for exercise, I have been doing yoga for 6 years. Why do I need to run?
Every exercise has its own advantages. I am not prophesying that running is better than yoga. But there are many other benefits to running other than usual benefits of the exercise.
Running for Mental Health
Running improves mental health and keeps us away depression. It reduces the levels of stress and anxiety. It also improves memory and brain power by producing new neurons and retaining the newly produced neurons.
Running increases Pain endurance:
When I was doing yoga, I hardly experienced any pain. But when I started running, first few days were really bad. I had severe cramps. I was neither able to sit nor stand. And it was for the good. I had millions of micro tears in my muscles which help in formation of new muscles. I developed the strength to endure pain.
Life Lessons from Running:
Running was very difficult to start for me. I gave up in the first ten days when I initially started it. I could not bear the fatigue. I had to take a day off from my work as I needed some rest. But it taught me a few life lessons:
In life, there is no growth if you are stuck in the comfort zone. You need to keep pushing yourself to grow as a person. Running taught me how to do this. Whenever I feel I can’t run anymore, I tell myself just a hundred more meters.
Keep moving no matter what:
There is a saying “If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But keep moving.” Every day I set myself a target of 3 Km. I walk, jog and run to cover this distance. I start with brisk walking, then run and slowly make it as jog and then walk till my breath comes to normal.
Never give it up:
It is easy to give up. Anyone can say I tried but gave up. How many of them say I did it till the last? Initially, even I gave up within first 10 days. But the second time I started, I did not want to give up. I went for a walk if I could not run. I woke up extra early on the days I had to leave early for work. But I did not give up. This attitude helped me in my work also. I used to give up easily previously. But now I go the extra mile to get things done.
Don’t do it under convenience:
Previously, I used to do things only if I were in the mood to do it. But now I do it because I have decided to do it. No excuses. No postponing. Running has trained me to develop this attitude.
What are you waiting for? Start running. Even if you want to run just for 5 minutes, even that is a good start.
All of us need improvement on a daily basis to be a better human. It also helps us in staying ahead in this competitive world. The most common suggestion you must have heard is to read a book. But at times we don’t have the luxury to read a book or if you are a listening learner, courses are a better choice.
Mona was browsing the net one afternoon. She stumbled upon a website and felt overwhelmed at the number of courses which she found interesting. “I want to do all these courses” thought Mona. She wished she had all the time in the world to do those courses. It was Monday morning and she was back to her routine life style. Six months passed. She came across the courses again and felt sad for not doing them till now. She cursed her busy schedule for not being able to do the courses. But something different happened in the next 3 months. She has finished 2 courses, one each a month. What happened in this time period? What did she do differently now?
Many of us who are reading this article now are like Mona. We want to do a lot of courses and won’t find time. We need not feel disappointed for our time mismanagement. We can also do what Mona did.
The following is the secret:
Selection of course:
This looks like a very obvious thing but it is not. Choose a course which not only interests you but also helps you in application of it in your daily life or in your work place. This will serve as not only a motivation to stick to the course but also makes the learning stronger. When I started this challenge of doing at least one course a month, I started with a course named ‘Learning how to learn’. That was a key stone course because that course taught me how to learn.
Contents of the course:
Sometimes the titles might be misleading. Read carefully what the course offers. Go for the course only if matches your needs.
Level of the course:
Choosing a course which is higher than your level scares you. I once took a course on regression when I was not even aware of the basics of statistics because of which I was not able to do the course for more than a week. In another instance, I took a course on painting, where they were teaching about colors. For a person who had already painted a lot of paintings, a class on colors sounded boring. But when I did a course on irrational behavior, the content was interesting and it did not require me to know high level technical stuff, hence I could complete the course. Similarly, for you to feel the flow and enjoy the course, it should be a little higher than your standard. Neither too high nor too low.
Rating and Reviews of the course:
Before starting the course, read what others think of the course. Do not get carried away by the comments but be aware of it.
Duration of course:
Make a note of the number of hours the entire course takes. Make a plan based on the amount of free time you have per day. For example, it is a 28 hour course. Take the course one hour per day and take off on a few Sundays.
As we have seen in the above example, we need one hour a day to do the course. This does not necessarily mean you have to find one hour at a stretch from your daily schedule. Do you wait for a cab pick-up? Do you commute to your work place? Do you take small breaks between your work hours? That is the time you have to utilize. A ten minute here and there. That will add up to the time you require in the day. I have finished two courses on courser in those 10 minute breaks I take here and there.
The following are a few websites on which courses can be done:
I am also one among you. I have taken a challenge to do at least one course a month. I am on the verge of finishing two courses now. In the next articles, I will write the articles on summary and my learnings from those courses.
Sona: I wanted to be on time. But I switched off the alarm and slept off.
Mona: The same story again huh ?
Sona: What can I do about it? I have been struggling so hard to wake up early. But I am just not able to do that.
Mona: I can empathize with you. Even I keep missing out on my workouts.
Sona: Is there no trick at all for making good habits?
Can you relate yourself to them? If yes, then this article is for you. In order to stick to a routine where you do the act subconsciously, you need to make it a habit. There is nothing called as habits that stick. If a routine is being done subconsciously over a period of time, it is already called a habit. Habits are the ones which are already stuck. You don’t need any special glue to stick them again. But how to form a habit in the first place ?
There are 3 R’s for a habit, according to Charles Duhigg, the author of Power of Habit.
In order to start something, you need a reminder. You eat when you are hungry. Why do you do this? Because hunger acts as a reminder that it is time for you to eat. In a similar way, for every habit you want to make, find a reminder. There are 5 types of reminders.
Time as Reminder
I paint on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Leave for office
When the clock strikes 9, I will leave for office
When it is 5th of the month, I pay all my bills
People as Reminder
Ask about tablets
Whenever I see my grandparents, I will ask them if they have taken their tablets
Whenever I come across someone I know, I smile at them
Whenever I come across my neighbours, I will make a conversation
Before I meet my boss, I will take deep breaths and go.
Place as Reminder
Whenever I am in the supermarket, I will buy fruits
Whenever I am in front of the mirror, I will do positive talk with myself
Whenever I am commuting or standing in queues, I will read book
Whenever I am in the kitchen, I will drink water
Event as Reminder
Whenever I open my laptop, I will write my article
As soon as I eat lunch, I eat fennel seeds which helps in digestion
Learn a new language
As soon as I reach home, I spend 5 minutes on Duolingo
Emotions as Reminder
Every time I feel an emotion, I will write down about it
Every time I feel craving, I eat healthy food
Make new hobby
Every time I feel low, I will work on something new
Start the habit in the smallest way possible and then slowly increase it. If the routine is not the smallest amount into which you can break into, and it requires your will power to execute it, then you might not make it into a habit.
If you want to start reading a book, just open the book each day. The one paragraph a day and then probably a few pages a day. If you want to work-out, just wear shoes every day first. Then walk up to the gym centre. Then this does not feel much of a deal, then start working out.
Routine becomes a habit only when it is done in a sustainable way. I had a tough time making newspaper reading as a habit. But now I go to the newspaper vendor every day as a habit and not because I have to go get it. That is the power of habit and starting small.
To make the routine sustainable, you can start it as a 30-day challenge. A 30-day challenge never means that you have to do it for 30 days and leave it. It has to be done forever, but the 30-day challenge serves as an initial external motivation which has to eventually get converted to the subconscious routine. You can also refer to this article to see how to break habits into smaller action items.
For working so hard in the routine step, you need a reward for the routine to stay. Reward need not be treating yourself each time. It can something as small as praising yourself or putting a tick mark in your daily checklist. Or just feeling happy about the positive effects of the habit in your life. I have been using habit loop tracker application on the android device to track my habits. It acts as a reward system for me.
Go ahead and make a list of habits you want to make. And prioritize two of them for the first one month. You can choose two keystone habits for the first month.
Are you depressed? Does life seem to be very tough? Do you cry every day? Do you feel scared to think about the future? Don’t worry! Relax, you are not alone. There is a way out. There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
Many times in life you come across a phase when you don’t know what next. The future looks bleak. None of the past achievements seem to matter. You just feel like a loser. That is when you start living one day at a time.
When you look at the top of the mountain when you are at its foot, the mountain seems huge. Instead, if you just look at 3-degree angle and aim to climb only that, it is not that scary. Same is the case with life. Thinking about the future invokes negative emotions when you are already low. Hence, just think about the day at hand. You might say “Am I not losing out on my time of life if I am not planning for the future?”
Just spend some time on introspection. Write down a list of things which you enjoyed in the past. You can also write down your past dreams. Make a table like below:
300 words a day
Paint for 15 minutes a day
Learn new language
Learn 2 sentences a day
Play an instrument
Spend 15 minutes a day
Now set the time for each of these activities. And just do them. Don’t worry about whether you are reaching the goal or not. Your task at hand for today is to just enjoy the task. Future is being taken care of by this today.