In the last post, I described my college friend’s issues with organization, and how she got on top of them. What I think is particularly interesting about the changes she made is how they led her to even more improvements. The original, and comically simple, steps she took to manage her messy habits became a catalyst for greater things.
She went on to paint her bathroom and build custom storage solutions. This example typifies what are known as “keystone habits.” Though we didn’t know it at the time, those original solutions not only alleviated the organization issues she had, they foreshadowed an evolution in how she existed within her environment.
These are habits that effect change in other areas of your life. They not only solve a specific challenge you may be having, but lead to other improvements beyond the original solution. Exercising regularly makes you look better and lose weight of course. But you may also see improvement in your energy, focus and metabolism. You may find that you start engaging in other wellness activities, like eating better, spending time outdoors, and reflecting on life beyond work. What began as a means to a very specific end (getting in shape) has morphed into a new realm of personal wellness. Your connection to your body has evolved, and you develop daily rhythms that accommodate your mental and physical health needs. At some point, the original goal has blossomed into an entirely new set of habits.
Identifying your own keystone habits is a personal matter, but there are a variety of tools to get there. Introducing new habits can work hand in hand with changes to your environment. Needless to say, in order to see change, you have to care about the goal. But designing your environment for success means that now you are in a space that wants you to succeed too! Your home environment has made this habit easier to achieve by lowering or removing the activation energy. Better yet, your new environment might make the activity fun. When you feel love for your surroundings, you may even look forward to some of the home tasks that used to feel like chores.
We can achieve positive change in our lives by coming at things from more than one direction. Overcoming problematic habits isn’t only about will power. Working on yourself is much easier when you pair that personal change with an environment that supports and rewards you. When you commit your resources to who you are now and to your future self, the result is a feedback loop. Present day you and future you are having a conversation, encouraging and supporting one another. Design a home that responds to your present day challenges. It will ultimately encourage you in your lifestyle aspirations. This is a powerful declaration of self belief.