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May 12, 2023

All Or Nothing Thinking

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Do you identify with being an all or nothing kind of person? It’s time to get fit so you commit to 5 days a week in the gym, a new nutrition plan, and maybe even a personal trainer. Or you want to meditate more so you dive into 30+ minute long advanced visualization sessions.

If so, and I did for a long time it’s a great characteristic trait. It means that you’re willing to be uncomfortable, you’re prepared to take bold action when you feel inspired, you’ll push yourself to levels far beyond where the average person could go, and you generally run life a high-speed.

Until you don’t…

What I’ve found to be a weakness of 'all-or-nothing' people is the relapse. While the momentum can pick up really fast, it’s volatile, fragile and can crash really quickly. You miss a day in the gym, or have a cheat day in your diet and you get really hard on yourself to the point that it all falls apart. You travel for a few days, get out of your new mindfulness routine, and have a really hard time getting back into any version of it.

That’s why it’s called all or nothing - You can be flying high one day to go back to square one the next. With all of that in mind, let’s talk about how to harness the positive sides of this mindset while managing the downsides.

On the first side of the mindset, think about applying the energy toward something sustainable. When you take the conviction of an all or nothing mindset and focus it on something more basic, you trade intensity for consistency. This works because intensity is something you can adjust in the moment whereas consistency is more foundational and baseline. 

An example of this is committing to working out in some capacity for 15 minutes a day, anything from a walk to a full sweaty gym session, knowing they all count the same.

Then on the other side of the mindset, there are two things to consider. First is how you can be aware that the ‘come down’ is coming. It requires a consciousness around your behaviors and circumstances to know how things are going and how they might be changing. The tool I use, that I teach about in the Best Self Breakthrough Challenge, is to have a daily reflection routine that helps you to pause and think about how things are going. 

Once you’ve done that, the second piece to navigating the potential fallout of an all or nothing mindset is to have contingency plans. When you lose consistency or make a mistake or overlook something (which you certainly will), do you have a plan in place to get back on track? Instead of trying to figure it out in an emotional, disappointing moment, how about you have an idea already prepared around how you might want to respond. 

Let’s say you have a cheat day and miss your diet. Instead of feeling bad about yourself, you can journal on the reasons why it happened and move forward into the next day with a renewed commitment.

Anyway, all that to say that if you have an all or nothing mindset, there’s a lot of opportunity in it! But also some pitfalls that might keep you stuck where you’re at. So be intentional about how you work with it so that you can make real improvements to your life!

if you know anyone with an all or nothing mindset, who runs at a high strung fast pace, share this article with them!

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