Find Your Personal Minimum Viable Habit

Adjust your mindset before you tackle major changes

Image for post
Image for post
Illustration from unDraw

At some point, everyone wants to change something about themselves or their lives. Some want to eat healthier, some want to work out more, some want to quit a bad habit, some want to read more, some want all of the above.

Changing a routine, getting rid of a bad behavior, or adopting a new habit isn’t easy. Anyone who has ever attempted it know this.

Many people are successful for a while and then fall back. It’s not that they’re not capable of following through, the missing link is their mindset. It’s not adjusted enough to the process of sticking to habits, it’s not used to discipline, it’s not focused.

When this is the case, tackling a major behavior change is overwhelming and your mind soon tricks you into quitting. It’s the easier path, it’s also natural and nothing to be ashamed of.

Before you start to change a core behavior, you first need to get your mind into the right setting. You need to teach yourself that you have discipline, that you can stick with something, that you have the identity of someone who pushes through.

To do this, find your minimum viable habit, one that’s small and simple and requires little effort and time in itself. From making your bed every morning to flossing your teeth every night, to taking the stairs instead of the elevator — there’s thousands of little things that you can tweak in your daily schedule without needing extra time, money or power.

A minimum viable habit is one where it’s not the act itself that’s hard, it’s doing it consistently on the schedule you’ve given yourself.
But if you do, the benefits will be massive.

The reward comes not so much from the habit itself, but from the mindset it equips you with, the identity it forges.
Yes, taking the stairs might have a health benefit and a made bed is nicer than an untidy mess. However the real value comes from how your brain changes when you prove to yourself that you are someone that can stick to a self-assigned task.

Once your mindset shifts to believe more in your own power to actually change something, bigger changes won’t seem so daunting. Once your belief, that you can change something, is backed up by your own experience, your mind will be more resilient to the temptation of quitting.

Find your minimum viable habit. Give yourself some time to prove that you can stick with it, and only once you feel comfortable in your new rhythm, head for the grander goals.

This post was inspired by my own experiences and reflections of the books Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Written by

Entrepreneur building a new stealth startup by day. Aspiring writer and curious thinker by night.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store