Keystone Habits and Experiences, Not Resolutions

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Keystone Habits and Experiences, Not Resolutions

Are we doing this again? The New Year is upon us and we’re giving it another go: the diet, the working out, the date nights…really? According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of resolutions will fail. So what is the alternative? If we want to improve, how can we actually make it happen? There are two approaches that help make the long term change and are actually much easier: keystone habits and experiences.

Keystone Habits

First think about your goal. Maybe it is to have a cleaner house, be more in love with your partner, or move your body more. Most people will sign up for a gym membership (usually for the year) and then not use it after February. They might mentally tell themselves “I’m going to clean everyday.” Or the may schedule out date nights.

Instead, look at the smallest decision that you can make that will start a flood of other habits. Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit calls these “keystone habits.” For example, if you want:

  • A cleaner house commit to making your bed every morning. I started doing that about a year ago (most of the time). Your bedroom feels more like a catalog. I feel like an adult when I walk in.
  • It changes my mindset.
  • Other examples are to commit to sweating everyday.
  • It doesn’t matter how, just break a sweat.
  • Or, drink one extra glass of water before you drink coffee in the morning.

What’s the smallest decision that is very doable and will make a shift?

Experiences Win

I’ve struggled with meditation for a while. When I get on a streak, it’s awesome. I’m aware, feel more focused, and appreciate small things in life. But for some reason I don’t keep up with it. So I asked myself, “What experience could I have that would push me toward that goal?” So, I’m evaluating doing a 10 day silent meditation retreat. I’m so scared, but I know that if I sign up, I’ll experience something.

When we sign up for something, whether it’s a triathlon, trip where you wear a bathing suit, or a weekend retreat, it gives you an experience that fast forwards your goals. Also, you meet people with similar mindsets. Jim Rohn said, “You’re the average of your five closest friends.” Why not make new friends through an experience?

Why We Fail

We fail because we set lofty goals, that are out of touch with who we are. Can you make your bed everyday? Can you sweat a little? Can you drink a glass of water? Let’s get real, you’re probably in the 80% that is going to fail. Why not set yourself up to actually make a change.

Or maybe it’s time to sign up for something. The very act of signing up, paying, and preparing will make more of a change than any sort of goal or mindset. So this year, how about you move away from your resolutions and towards keystone habits and experiences!

Joe Sanok is a TEDx speaker, award winning podcaster, and blogger on business, life, and big ideas. His keynote, “Fostering Aha Moments” is being booked for 2019.