You might be scratching your head at this point. What is this mental health guy, Jordan, getting at? I’m getting at being lazy for once. That’s what I’m getting at.
Before I tell you why doing the bare minimum is good, let’s go over what doesn’t work. At one point in my life, I became obsessed with productivity and changing my life for the better. I made schedules. I devised routines. I did it all. And then I announced to myself, “I will perfectly implement all of this over the next week!”
Can you guess what happened? I failed miserably.
I started something new and my goal was perfection. But perfection is not a goal. It actually doesn’t even exist. It sounds good in theory, but theory is not always the same thing as reality.
Here’s what I should have done. I should have focused on the bare minimum of my habits.
I tried doing 30 push-ups a day. Some days I did it, some days I didn’t. And I sure felt guilty on the days that I didn’t do my push-ups. I felt like I had failed before I had a chance to build any momentum.
I have more success when I focus on doing one push-up a day. That’s something I can do.
And doing the bare minimum actually tricks the brain into doing more. Because it’s all about getting started. One push-up? I can do that! Well, now I guess I’m already going through the trouble, so I’ll do a few more.
Before I know it, I’ve done 30 push-ups. The same applies to other habits I’ve maintained, like writing and practicing meditation. I start with the smallest amount possible–and then I go from there.
The benefit of doing the bare minimum habit is that it’s not overwhelming. It forces me to get started, which is actually the hardest part. It’s never about the habit itself; it’s about engaging the willpower in the beginning to start the habit.