Turn Your Goals Into Habits (And Then Into Results)

This week, Srinivas Rao from Unmistakable Creative published an article about the benefits of keystone habits and how to use them to your advantage. In it, he lauds the benefits of “one habit that sets off a chain reaction”, leading to an overall more productive day.

This concept is the perfect productivity tool if you’re having trouble reaching your any (or all) of your goals!

Let’s take me, for instance. This is a notecard I have hanging above my desk to remind me of my goals:

The Dusty Quill Goals

Some of these may seem unrelated to each other (writing + swimming + cleaning?). However, by using the power of a keystone habit, I am continuously chipping away at all of these and seeing the results. As Rao states it:

One small habit done long enough becomes a keystone.
A keystone habit ripples, creating other positive habits.
These habits stacked, create a system.

For Rao, his system starts by writing 1,000 words a day and surfing every morning. Doing those two things helps him feel creative, energized, and get more done.

For me, if I feel productive in one aspect of my life, I’ll be more inclined to keep that momentum going in every other aspect. So if I can start my day by running a few miles, I will not only want to then eat a healthier breakfast, I’ll also want to tidy up my apartment and work on my blog—one habit creating an entire system of productivity.

Of course, this works the other way around too. If I don’t get a good workout in all day and I see a bag of candy nearby, God help the poor soul who tries to get in my way of that candy. And at that point, the whole day is kind of a wash, so I might as well just catch up on The Mindy Project and go to bed.

Yes, that is actually how my brain works—one questionable decision, and it takes more willpower than I usually have to get myself back on track. In my case, laziness breeds more laziness.

That’s why I love the idea of the keystone habit. One thing that you know you can do everyday. One single task that will make you feel accomplished and will bring about so many positive side effects that you’ll go from daydreamer to go-getter.

By creating strategic habits, you can actually work toward results instead of fantasizing about “some day”.

Now, I don’t say this to preach—there are still PLENTY of days that I don’t work out, my supposed keystone habit! The unfortunate truth is I’m imperfect, and I’m still working on my own productivity too.

But something I’ve learned is that while I like to work out for the many health benefits, the act of doing something just to better myself also leads me to eating better, writing more, and even wanting to be more social. In short, doing one “good” thing makes me want to do more.

So even if I can’t talk myself into going to the gym for an hour, I’m learning to spend 10 minutes with some free weights in my room—just a little something to work up a sweat. During the week, this is often the exercise I resort to after coming home from work…and it’s perfect!The Dusty Quill's Laws of Motion

I do just enough to work out a few muscles, then I immediately start cooking myself a healthy dinner (no way am I putting down my free weights just to order take out!). Then, I sit at my desk, open my laptop, and start writing for The Dusty Quill!

Those quick 10 minutes set off a chain reaction that helps me reach all my goals—health, writing, and all.

And had I not put in that time, I would feel far less inclined to do anything for myself.

Time (and Sir Isaac Newton) has taught me that an object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless something comes along to shake things up. If I’m already being lazy, it’s an uphill climb to try to break myself out of that funk.

And if I do manage to talk myself into writing a new blog post, it often feels like a chore rather than a hobby. If you’re passionate about writing, you never want it to feel like a chore.

By turning a would-be burden into the logical next step in a system that makes you feel accomplished and proud, you’ll stop having to talk yourself into writing and instead happily and effortlessly choose to do it everyday.

Using your keystone habit as a solid foundation allows you to let that productive momentum carry you through the rest of your day and turn your ambitions into achievements.

So whatever keystone habit is right for you (exercising, journaling, cooking, hiking, drawing, meditating—the list is literally endless), make it a part of your daily routine in whatever capacity possible, and let its beneficial side effects make you a more productive writer (and human)!

What’s one thing you can implement into your daily routine that will help you reach your goals? Let me know in the comments section below…and then go do it!


P.S. If you’re still struggling to find your own keystone habit, make sure you check out Srinivas Rao’s full article here. As a creative and productive powerhouse, he does a great job walking you through exactly how to use keystone habits to your advantage.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to sign up to get The Dusty Quill updates in your inbox below! I’ll share bonus writing resources, productivity tips, embarrassing stories of me, corny jokes—all the good stuff!

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