Chicago’s Rollout–Change a Habit (7)

In this post, I want to discuss how different habits may effect each other.    There are some habits which influence other habits–for the better or for the worse.   They are called keystone habits.

A keystone is a term from architecture.  It is a wedge-shaped piece at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place.   In a similar way, a keystone habit locks other habits in place.    So if you want to change a lot of habits, you need to start with the keystone.

An example of a bad keystone habit is if you don’t have a budget.   If you just spend money when you have it, then this may encourage other habits such as

  • taking out payday loans to have enough money to cover expenses when you run out
  • not having a savings account to be used in the case of emergencies
  • impulse buying of things you don’t really need online

Once you create a budget, then some of these other bad habits will be easier to control.

On the positive side, doing exercise is a positive keystone habit.    Let me take the example of yoga, which I’m trying to do at least 5 days a week right after I come home from work.   I’ve established the habit for the most post–I’m averaging four days a week and working towards five.    But doing this on a regular basis has anchored it to my schedule and has helped me create these other positive habits:

  • meditating for 15 minutes after I’m done with my yoga session (because I’m in a relaxed state, the meditation is especially effective at this time)
  • remembering to take my evening medicines
  • doing an intermittent fast by just skipping dinner afterwards (maybe having some juice or a piece of fruit) and not eating until I get up the next morning

Having the yoga habit has helped me by being the anchor to which I am developing the three practices listed above.   There may be other keystone habits that you can develop that can work for you, but exercise is probably one that will work for you, because researchers say it can work for anybody.

One factor which can increase the likelihood of success of your habit changing project is to enlist the help of others to help you believe in your success.    This concept related to projects is called that of your project stakeholders, and it is this concept I will address in the next post.



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