Keystone Habits

Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power of Habit,” talks about daily keystone habits which contribute to overarching good habits. For example, if we keep track of what we eat on a daily basis, Duhigg explains that we will be more committed to better health and fitness. Keeping a daily log of what we had for lunch doesn’t cause us miraculously to lose five pounds today. It does cause our brains to start thinking, both consciously and unconsciously, about our goals and objectives, however.

Some of the areas which Duhigg recommends that we consider are:

Having family dinners.
Duhigg says that this habit has a correlation with higher grades, better homework skills, and more confidence.

Making your bed every morning.
Bed-makers are more likely to like their jobs, own a home, and exercise regularly, according to Duhigg.

Exercise regularly.
People who exercise, based on Duhigg’s research, have less stress and are more productive at work.

Tracking what you eat.
Duhigg shares that, by looking at what you eat and then tracking it, people start to see their routines and to create a structure that helps other habits to flourish.

Developing daily routines.
Organizing our thoughts and work routines, according to Duhigg, has “enormous impacts” on our health, productivity, financial security and happiness.

Do you do any of these things?

Some thoughts in reaction to Duhigg’s research and recommendations:

Commitment to the best habits produce the best results.

When we see great results from top-notch performers, we usually see strongly established habits. The best athletes are highly disciplined in their performance, and so are the best business executives as well. These people focus in on a lifestyle and a daily schedule that builds them up around their goals and objectives. They are intentional about what they do, how they do it, and how everything fits around what they want to accomplish. It’s no accident that they accomplish what they want to do.

Commitment to the best results are hard to accomplish.

The best habits are generally hard to maintain. The reason why they’re hard is because it requires focused commitment. It requires a choice to turn away other things in favor of what is the best. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it. Oswald Chambers once said, “The good is always the enemy of the best.” It’s easy to attain a good level of habits, but it’s a lot harder to gain the best.

The satisfaction of gaining the best results is worth the sacrifice.

Darren Hardy, the author of “The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster,” talks about how difficult every day can be. He says that 90% of the days we work is tough, but 10% of the days we live as an entrepreneur make the effort worth it all. That could be true of those who trade stocks and options. Most days gain pretty small averages, but it’s those days when we win big that remind us that the work was worth it. For athletes, winning championships and being the best at one’s sport is a small event for the long, grueling training days they had to complete. It’s like climbing that tall mountain and enjoying the view from the top – you may be tired, but you know that the climb was worth it.

It’s hard enough to get started and maintain the right disciplines. If we focus on the habits that get us in the right frame of mind, we will find that the journey will be easier.

What are your keystone habits? What have you found is working for you? How do you get in the right frame of mind?

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