Last week the topic was about making 2015 a better year for your marriage and money by making SMART goals and changing habits. This show we’re going to:
- explain the difference between making and changing a habit
- how to decide which habit to change first
Making a Habit Versus Changing a Habit
Before we get into how to pick out which habits to tackle first, I want to go ahead and clarify a few things on making and changing habits.
There are 3 basic components to habits:
When creating a new habit, you want to identify what your triggers work best for you. For example, maybe you want to cut back on your spending during the work week. You can try out a cue, like carrying a small notebook with you or using your smartphone to track.
As far as rewards, you can make it a goal to set aside some of the money you save (like half) and use it for a big purchase you’d really love.
If you want to change a habit, you don’t want to adjust the cue or rewards, but rather use them and change your routine instead.
What are Keystone Habits?
Now that we have an idea of how change happens, the next question many people have is where do I start?
This is where keystone habits come in.
Power of Keystone Habits in Your Life
Let me give you an example with a popular goal people make every year – getting into shape. There are a ton of ways you can go about it:
- change your diet
- join a gym
- exercise with friends
After considering all your options, you decide to try something easy and relatively quick – a morning jog.
You get some good running shoes and have them by your bed so you can just wash up, get dressed, and do a 20 minutes around the neighborhood.
After a couple of weeks, though you notice that in addition to running, you’ve also made some other changes to your daily routine. You don’t by the donut shop as much. You drink more water throughout the day. You enjoy running so much you invite your spouse to join you on the weekends.
This one habit – running in the mornings – has led to big changes without you having to consciously create each and every one of them.
Identifying Keystone Habits
Now we arrive to the difficult part – how do you know which habits are keystone? While there isn’t a magic formula, Chares Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, found characteristics of these habits you can look out for:
- gives you a sense of small victories
- creates small platforms
- establish a culture where excellence is contagious
And if you look at the example of the jogging habit, you can see those:
By running in the morning, you’ve accomplished a major goal before any distractions came in. You began seeing yourself as a more fit person which leads you to thinking ahead and planning out how to continue building on that for the rest of the day.
So while it can take some time to figure out what keystone habit to adopt, it’s well worth it!