#17 Keystone Habits: What they are and how you can use them to skyrocket your success

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Keystone habits are  “small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.” -Charles Duhigg

I am a BIG fan of personal development books. I’ve got a load of about a hundred loaded in my scribd account and I binge listen whenever I can (in the shower, on a run, in the car, you name it!

Keystone Habits

So when I say a book is good, and it changed my life, know that this is coming from someone with lots of personal development books under her belt, so give me a listen!

Find out how keystone habits are simple habits that cause a ripple effect and help you accomplish all of your other goals.

This post contains affiliate links, read my full disclosure .

I’m sharing just one little tidbit of The Power of Habit (aff) by Charles Duhigg, but the whole book is so interesting and will truly transform the way you think about your life and habits.

What are Keystone Habits?

Charles Duhigg defines a Keystone habit as “small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”

I like to think of Keystone habits as a way of hacking your own life.

Basically, a keystone habit is a small and manageable shift or change that acts as a catalyst for success in many other areas of your life.

To clarify, let’s start out with an example. I’m going with the easiest example from the book. Making your bed.

According to Duhigg, “Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.”

Isn’t that cool?

I don’t know about you, but I’m often overwhelmed with all the changes I want to make in my life (aka, things like improving my productivity and sticking to a budget, actually).

Now, Duhigg is not saying that making your bed will CAUSE you to be a better budgeter, but maybe that habit unlocks the ability within you or clears your mind enough that reaching those other goals just comes naturally.

With all the guilt that goes on when we don’t “slay our goals” the way we want to, I love this idea of setting myself up for success in a way that doesn’t even feel like extra work.

Feels like a win-win to me!

Examples of keystone habits

The cool thing about keystone habits, is that no one can define what your keystone habits are, that’s for you to figure out.

It can really be any behavior that you identify as a catalyst for other good behaviors, something that you do that can cause a waterfall effect and the benefits of it can spill into other aspects of your life.

Duhigg does identify several keystone habits, and I have one that he DOESN’T talk about…but I have identified as a major player in my own life (think you can guess what it is??)


It’s no surprise that exercise hits this list.

If I were reading this a year or two a go I likely would have rolled my eyes and said, yeah yeah, but after my 3rd child I decided to finally let go of the excuses and whip my booty into shape, and now I’m a believer.

I seriously feel so good, I have increased confidence, I can keep up with my kids without feeling winded or tired, I sleep better, I’m more patient with my kids, the benefits of exercise (and the increase in good habits/behavior) seems endless.

Duhigg wouldn’t be surprised as he notes that exercise triggers people to eat better. He also says that people who exercise note increased patience, less stress, and more productivity at work.


Is it just me, or after a vacation or other break from your routine do you feel “out of sorts” and ready to just get back to your life?

I’m totally a creature of habit, I like to wake up at the same time, start my morning the same way, go to the gym every day, enjoy family dinner together.

When my routines are out of whack, it puts me out of whack as well.

Duhigg writes that “The way we organize our thoughts and work routines has enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness,”

So I guess being a creature of habit isn’t such a bad thing after all.


This is one area I could definitely work on, but I have seen it’s benefits when I do try it out.

According to this video from AsapScience Meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, and increase goal setting in an individual.

Family Meal Time

This keystone habit is one of my favorites on the list because it doesn’t affect only you, but your whole family.

So when YOU put forth the effort to create family meal times, your whole family benefits…which is pretty cool.

The family dinner project notes some of the many benefits of family meal times. Here are a few:

  • Better academic performance
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Greater sense of resilience
  • Lower risk of substance abuse
  • Lower risk of teen pregnancy
  • Lower risk of depression
  • Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
  • Lower rates of obesity

If you’re telling me that simply by providing regular family meals, I can avoid these things…sign me up!

…and on that note

Who guessed what the keystone habit I identified in my own life is? Hint: It has to do with Family meal time.

Meal Planning

Did you guess it?

Meal planning allows me to make family dinners happen, saves me money at the grocery store, clears my mind for more important projects, and causes a multitude of other benefits and positive habit changes.

Want to know more about how you can use meal planning to fuel other positive behavior changes in your life?

Check out my FREE meal plan mini course below.

The meal plan mini course details exactly how you can get started with the habit of meal planning, including the mistakes you are probably making that are costing you money and time. In just a few minutes a day you can implement changes to your meal plan that will bring hours back to your life and allow you to enjoy fun and stress-free dinners with your family.

I hope what we’ve talked about today motivates you to look for one or two simple changes you can make in your life that are simple and easy to accomplish, but that can catapult your success in other areas.

Can you think of any keystone habits you already have? A behavior that you think will skyrocket your succes. I’d love to hear all about it! Share in the comments below.

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One Comment

  1. Hi Amanda,

    thanks very much for this article. It can all start from making our bed. Then routine and eating together reinforce our positive habits. Meditation reinforces our positive attitudes and habits. Easy to accomplish and yet so powerful!

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