We tend to think in absolutes. If I am on a diet, I can’t have a treat. If I don’t have an hour to exercise, I can’t get fit. If _______, then I can’t _______. Change is intimidating, but our all or nothing mindset is the main barrier to achieving our goals. It also prevents us from seeing the assets we already possess that would help us achieve what we want. It’s not a question of willpower, or lack of. It’s a question of concentrating on changing the way we look at goal achievement, and concentrating on one thing only.
Roadmap to Change: Change One Thing
I have goals related to various aspects of my life. My goals involve my writing, coaching, fitness and, having moved recently to a new city, my social life. If I look at the whole picture, it can get overwhelming. Metaphorically speaking, the elephant is so big that it’s hard to imagine how to get from point A to point B. Lucky for us, there’s plenty of research on the science of goal achievement, and how to break it down into smaller chunks.
Figure out what steps need to happen in order for you to accomplish your goals, and then find the one goal that can trigger a chain reaction that will lead to more positive change. Think of a domino chain, one domino falls and triggers a chain reaction that eventually topples over all the other dominos. That first domino is your keystone habit. If daily exercise, eating healthy, and feeling more energized are my goals, my keystone habit could be committing to walking to work everyday instead of taking the bus.
Here’s a list of 10 keystone habits that can make a difference in your life:
- Daily exercise
- Eating 5 portions of vegetables per day
- Getting 8+ hours of sleep per night, or committing to going to bed at 10 pm every night
- Journaling every morning or night for 10 min per day
- Speaking to one stranger everyday
- Having a daily art ritual (e.g. drawing, knitting, or crafting for 10-20 min)
- 10 min daily readings on a skill you want to approve in your career
- 10 min daily meditation. It can be mindfulness, breathing exercises, body scan, Qi Gong or Tai Chi, dancing, daydreaming- whatever works for you. YouTube is a great resource.
- Taking a healthy lunch to work everyday instead of eating out
- Ending your day keeping a 3 Things that Went Well Journal
How to Make It Stick:
- Pick only one Keystone Habit at a time and commit to it for 30 days
- Don’t expect perfection but stay committed
- Reflect on how this change is affecting other aspects of your life
- Once you’ve kept to it for 30 days, select a new keystone habit to work on
We often underestimate the power of small changes. This technique is a great reminder that great results come from small actions. To learn more about it, check out The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Don’t forget to share what you’re working on in the comment section, I’d love to hear it! And most of all, enjoy the process, it’s really empowering!
For more advice on achieving your goals, read my article: 10 Ways to Create or Change a New Habit. For my latest coaching articles, don’t forget to subscribe!