How to use Keystone Habits to proactively shape your future

It’s day 36 of the lockdown and the bounce in my step is definitely gone.

It feels like mile 18 of a marathon. Hitting that proverbial wall.

But in this case, I’ve identified the culprit.

His first name is José.

Last name Cuervo.

Pre-pandemic I was an every-other-day drinker. One stiff cocktail on alternating weekdays. A few extra on the weekends.

But now I’m on a 36 day streak of multiple margaritas a night.

(Skinny, of course… 3 limes, tequila and a dash of agave)

I mean, I need something – anything – to break the never-ending groundhog day of Kindergarten Worksheets, washing dishes, changing diapers and bickering with Lisa.

Here’s the visual representation:

I’m ready to break the cycle.


For starters, every day feels like a Peloton hill climb set at a 99 resistance. (With Despacçito playing in the background.)

But more importantly, I’m feeling a tiny shift. Here in LA, a virus hotspot, there’s a tiny ray of light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. As the curve slowly flattens and society gradually reopens, I want to regain my pre-pandemic flow.

As a fellow RadReader texted me: “It’s time for me to rediscover my growth mindset.”

Thankfully there’s a tiny tweak that can exponentially (and effortlessly) boost your productive energy.

Meet your Keystone Habit

Charles Duhigg first coined the term in The Power of Habit:Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes. A huge body of research has shown that small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves.

Here’s James Clear describing “the habit that puts the rest of my life in place,” Fitness.When I worked out, I wanted to eat better. Even though I could have rewarded myself with chocolate bars and ice cream, I felt like eating real, healthy foods.I also slept better. And when I was awake, I seemed more productive. Especially in the hour or two after working out, when my mind seemed to think clearer and my writing was crisper. Thoughts flowed easily.When I didn’t exercise, however, I was more prone to eating junk food. I would stay up later working on unimportant tasks. I started to feel tension in my back.

Discovering Wu-Wei

There’s a mind-bending concept from Daoism called Wu-Wei, which can be translated as effortless action. You’ve tasted Wu-Wei when:


  • Time melts away as you solve a complex work problem
  • A blog post somehow writes itself
  • You drop into Warrior 2 with perfect alignment


Keystone habits stack the deck in your favor and are an bottomless source of effortless action.

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