In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg presents the idea of Keystone Habits: habits that, once implemented, naturally improve the quality of life in a variety of other habits. The most common one is exercise: one someone builds the habit of daily exercise into life, they naturally begin to sleep better, eat better, create a better routine, etc.
Once a keystone habit is in place, the rest of the pieces seem to fall into place around it.
In attempting a year of drastic self-improvement, it’s often best to focus on “big wins.” If you can start building the proper keystone habits, you’ll save yourself a lot of work in small individual habits down the line.
Building Daily Routines
So I want to talk about the mother of keystone habits — building a daily routine. In particular, building a morning routine.
Here, you can see my old morning ritual (from about a year ago):
Redefining the Morning Ritual
The moments you wake up are the moments you can actually control. Once you get going, make it to your work or school, you suddenly are playing in someone else’s ballpark. So, I focus on building the morning ritual as the most important facet of my routine.
You might have seen in my last post: Jumpstarting the Habit Change Process. In it, I made a list of 7 habits I want to develop. I’ll paste that list below for reference.
1) Daily Meditation
2) Writing 750 Word Every Day
3) Daily Floss
4) Before sleeping, write 3-5 MiTs (Most Important Tasks) down. In the morning, start working on them BEFORE checking email.
5) Turn off computer every night by 11pm.
6) Keep a gratitude journal and write 3-5 things I’m grateful for every night before sleeping.
7) Add a ritual to my morning routine: Visualize my day ahead of time and how I’ll approach it, then watch inspirational videos.
These are all daily items — the types of habits I want to achieve every day. But, some take longer than others.
So, I sat down and wrote my ideal routine, for the whole day. And then I tried to see which habits fit the easiest into my daily plan.
But, the act of codifying a perfect morning routine made it seem much more believable, likely. So, I tried throwing in flossing and the gratitude journal — so far, it’s stuck for four days, and we’ll see how long that lasts.
So, here’s the fact: creating a morning routine, writing it down, and making it visible so that you’re reminded of it daily is a very valuable action to take.
In the comments below, list out your current daily routine, and your dream routine. By writing it out, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what you need to do tomorrow.
So, try it out — build a morning routine, commit to it using the Bet Switch Mechanism for 5 days, and see how productive you become.