Self Improvement | Psychology

Ripping Off The Band-Aid Mindset

Embrace the power of identity based habits for lasting change.

Sean Kernan
5 min readSep 25


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“I need you to be more organized. You become forgetful when things get busy,” my boss said.

She sat across from me, reading her notes for my annual review, which was going well up until this moment. I grimaced and took the feedback. But I left the room enormously frustrated.

When I sat down at my desk and looked around, I realized what was in front of me all along: I was a hot mess. Papers and folders were strewn everywhere. It looked like the FBI had just raided my office.

When I went home, I saw the same. Everything was everywhere. I constantly lost my wallet and keys and other important things. I realized that if I wanted to be an organized employee, I needed to have the same standard at home too. Living a double life wouldn’t work. And it made such a huge difference. I stopped losing things. My work performance improved.

I realized over time that so many solutions equate to patchwork — a cheap, easy fix that isn’t weatherproofed against the ebb and flow of human behavior. I call it the Band-Aid Mindset. It happens when people think, “I’ll just do this one thing and then it will all get better on its own.”

One way to counteract this is to stop thinking through the prism of problem-solution. Instead, embed the change in who you are.

Research has continually proven that linking your identity to your habits not only produces lasting change, but also boosts self-esteem. One study asked 500 people two subsequent questions.

  1. “How much of a habit is this activity for you? A habit is something you do frequently and automatically.”
  2. “How much does the activity reflect who you really are as a person? That is, to what extent does the activity represent what you would consider as your ‘true self.’”

The participants who linked the habit to their true self, were much more consistent in doing it. I haphazardly stumbled into this insight, trying to think of myself as a clean and organized person, rather than just thinking I needed to clean my office for my performance review.



Sean Kernan

Always on the hunt for a good story. That guy from Quora. Writing out of Tampa, Florida.