Keystone Habits: How One Little Change Leads to Big Results

Complaining is easy. We’re predisposed to see what’s wrong. Neuroscientists call this the “negativity bias.” When you’re perceptive and have a few miles on your career path, you’re good at spotting the potholes in the road

In the work I do as a business growth consultant, I listen to a lot of complaining. It’s my job. (And I actually love it!) And what I see is that most business owners and entrepreneurs are very astute at seeing the problems.

And that’s the problem with problems, isn’t it? When you focus on what’s broken, you’ll come up with a long list of things that need to be fixed. In reality, you can’t always fix everything. Sometimes there’s simply no time, budget or realistic deadline for a major overhaul.

Some things may never be completely fixed, and you’ll have to tolerate them — but this doesn’t exclude picking one key change that can vastly improve both short- and long-term results.

I recently read about “keystone habits,” in a book review for The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Keystone habits work because success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right. Instead you identify a few key priorities that become powerful levers for other changes.

For example, you decide to improve the effectiveness of your business marketing. You pick one social media site and devote an hour a day for active participation. Soon you notice other opportunities you hadn’t noticed before to get more exposure for your brand. After a month of focusing one hour a day on social media, you find you’ve made improvements throughout your marketing and even in some other systems.

By changing one small habit, there is a trickle-down effect throughout other areas of the business. It snowballs. Soon you’re seeing results in places you hadn’t even targeted.

I challenge you to pick one small thing you can change today. It doesn’t have to involve an hour of time. By applying discipline and persistence to one effort, you’ll gain benefits throughout your work day. You’ll have more energy and focus. Try it and let me know what you think.

  • Brenda, I love the concept of keystone habits. They may be small, but the changes they produce can be BIG.

    The weirdest one I’ve tried is making my bed every morning. It’s actually a super start to every day, like washing your car or clearing off your desk. I just feel neater and more productive.

    Since I work for myself, I started experimenting. Which habits can help grow my business?

    I’ve found these 3 keystone habits work well:

    1) Reading my monthly goal out loud for 1 minute every morning
    2) Visualizing it for 3 minutes
    3) Walking while saying affirmations out loud for 10 minutes

    They’re no magic bullet, but they REALLY work for me.

    I wish you all the best!

    Kevin Donlin
    3 Habits of Growth

    • BSStoltz

      Thank, Kevin! I agree 100%. A lot of what we do is by habit and changing just a few things can cause a big ripple. I love your three habits – and the bed making!