Have you ever had one of those days where it seems like one difficult thing keeps leading to another and your whole day is this domino effect of unfortunate situations?
I totally have. I remember not that long ago frantically jumping out of bed because I turned off my alarm by accident. I rushed out the door without eating breakfast. As I rolled into the school parking lot at 8:02 for an 8:00 meeting I realized I didn’t have my lunch, water bottle, or coffee. After the meeting, I thought about running to a nearby grocery story quickly, but I decided not to. As teachers, we all know those before-school minutes and prep periods are sacred. If I went to grab lunch and coffee, I would definitely be bringing work home. By the end of the day, I had a terrible headache from not eating and drinking very little water. Instead of going to the gym like I normally do, I plopped myself on the couch and slept until dinner time.
I’m willing to bet some serious money that we’ve all had a day like this at some point. Today’s episode is all about this domino effect and the #1 secret to more good days. Let’s dive in!
Difference between a “good” and “bad” day
Before we move onto the actual strategy for this podcast, I want you to get really clear on what you value and what makes a day “good” or “bad.”
Looking back at my story, my day felt “bad” because I didn’t get enough sleep, food, or water. It was also difficult running from one thing to the next, always feeling rushed and late. Now let’s reframe this list around values.
Getting 8 hours of sleep is really important to me. I also value healthy meals and lots of water throughout the day so my body feels good, and I can actually teach. Finally, I like to feel prepared and relaxed. Running behind left me feeling rushed and ill-prepared for almost every part of my day.
Now it’s your turn. What’s important to you? What separates a “good” day from a “bad” day?
Keystone habits are the secret
The #1 secret to more good days is… drum roll please… keystone habits! According to Charles Duhigg and his book, “The Power of Habit,” keystone habits are “small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”
I want to repeat the most important part of this definition. Keystone habits are SMALL changes or habits. Putting a new habit into place is tough, but keystone habits are meant to position you on a path that allows things to go a little more smooth and allow for an opportunity to sprinkle additional habits, or keystone habits, throughout your day.
Here are a few examples of keystone habits to get you thinking:
- No screen time after 8:00 pm
- Set a glass of water next to the coffee machine before you go to bed
- Go to bed by (whatever works for you)
- Pack your lunch the night before
- Pick out your outfit the night before
- Leave your gym bag by the door so it’s there when you get home
Keystone habits in practice
I want you to know that I’ve been working on keystone habits for about a year and a half now, and I’m nowhere close to perfect! One keystone habit that I always come back to is 8 hours of sleep. Here’s what it looks like now. FYI this is summer Jessie!
When I get 8 hours of sleep, I don’t snooze my alarm. I wake up at 5:50 so I can brush my teeth, wash my face, feed my cats, and get out the door at 6:10. Then I can make it to Lake Harriet for the 6:30 yoga class by the bandshell. After doing yoga I always feel so good, and I end up making better decisions about what I eat for breakfast and what I do with the rest of my day.
I used to think my keystone habit was morning yoga, but that was too big! As you could see, there were so many more things that had to come together to get my butt out the door by 6:10. Full disclosure, I’ve been trying to get to this yoga class for a month now, and I’ve realized my keystone habit is actually eating dinner by 7:00 pm so I can watch an episode of “Peaky Blinders” on Netflix before bed. This brings me to my last piece of advice. Don’t worry about doing this perfectly! Just make a plan and start. Notice what happens and pivot if you have to. Your keystone habits will ebb and flow because you’re a human being.
Call to action
Here’s your official call to action. Pick ONE keystone habit you can put into place today (or tomorrow morning)! Tell your partner, mom, roommate, or friend what you’re doing. It could look like this, “I’m committed to going to bed at 9:00 for the next 5 days.” Pick something so simple that there are zero reasons why you can’t follow through. Remember, true change doesn’t happen without some action.