top of page

Achieve Your Goals Easily with Keystone Habits

Written by: Mandy Napier, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit, coined the term keystone habits. Keystone habits spark “chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.” They are habits that automatically lead to other positive behaviors.

This is great news.

It means that, instead of trying to change dozens of habits to achieve your goals, you only need to implement a few keystone habits. That’s because our behaviors are interconnected, so when you change one behavior (through a keystone habit), other behaviors also shift.

Let’s simplify this.

Let’s say you have a goal to lose 20 pounds.

One keystone habit of supporting your goal could be going for a daily 30-minute walk after breakfast.

As you do this, you notice that you start to feel more energy, you sleep better, and it inspires you to eat better, too.

That one keystone habit can positively influence other behaviors, which in the end help you to attain your goal.

A Real-Life Example of the Success of Keystone Habits

Charles Duhigg shared a great example of the Olympian, Michael Phelps, and how keystone habits helped give him the edge to become a multi-gold medalist.

Already a phenomenal athlete, his coach, Bob Bowman, focused on creating other essential habits that would help him stand out from all the other elite swimmers. Bowman chose to focus on helping Phelps create mental habits, the right mindset that would give him the winning edge.

They landed on a particular mental habit that worked through trial and error—visualizing the perfect race. Bowman called this the videotape. He instructed Phelps to watch the videotape every night before he went to sleep and when he woke up. Phelps would imagine himself jumping off the blocks and, in slow motion, swimming flawlessly. “First, he would visualize his strokes, the walls of the pool, his turns, and the finish. Next. he would imagine the wake behind his body. The water dripping off his lips as his mouth cleared the surface. What it would feel like to rip off his cap at the end. Then, he would lie in bed with his eyes shut and watch the entire competition, the smallest details, again and again, until he knew each second by heart.”

Once Bowman established a few core routines in Phelps’s life, things really clicked. All other habits, his diet, and practice schedules, the stretching and sleep routines fell into place.

Phelps’s keystone habits helped him win the greatest number of Olympic gold medals in history.

You Might Already Have Keystone Habits in Place

Now, it’s over to you. What keystone habits can you create or perhaps already have in place to help you achieve your goals? How can you build upon them?

Just like Michael Phelps, you might have to experiment until you find the ones that you stick to and that are essential to your outcomes. They might even become enjoyable, so much so that you miss them if you don’t do them. If this happens, you are definitely onto a winner!

At first, starting a new behavior can feel like a chore, but you must stick with it to achieve your goals.

As one Cornell professor wrote, “Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small victory.” On to your victory!

To connect with Mandy, visit her website and hop on over to my private Facebook Group Winning Mindsets.


Mandy Napier, Executive Contributor, Brainz Magazine

Mandy Napier is a Global High-Performance Mindset Coach, Professional Speaker, Author, Athlete, and founder of Mindset for Success. With her results-driven, neuroscience-backed C.L.E.A.R ™️ Coaching Model, Mandy has helped thousands of high-achieving professionals break free of self-imposed limitations and create transformational results. Focusing on the ‘how-to’ change, training the mind, and rewiring the brain helps her clients gain more clarity, purpose, and direction. Her clients successfully achieve their goals because she works with them to develop routines and habits that support consistent action. Mandy is the author of Creating Healthy Life Habits, has been featured on podcasts such as Success, Motivation and Inspiration, and The Successful Advisor. She publishes articles shared on various global platforms and national publications—her mission: Extraordinary Results for her clients.



  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page