Recently I spoke to a group about distorted thinking and how it hijacks our behavior, preventing us from getting the results we want. One of the distortions I highlighted was all-or-nothing thinking. A participant in the seminar asked how many in the group struggled with that one and more than half the hands went up. Can you relate?
That mindset shows up in a number of ways. For example, one episode of over-eating leads someone to give up her healthy habits and keep over-eating. Another person does it “all” because no else will do it as well (even something as insignificant as loading the dishwasher). Yet another spends far too much time on a project trying to make it perfect, or not starting because it never can be.
The cost of all-or-nothing is high. All leads to burnout (and people find you annoying) and nothing leads to, well, nothing. Even worse, nothing leads to regression because procrastinating on important actions, like those to improve your health or lose weight, only exacerbates the situation.
This is a familiar thought pattern I coach my clients through. They discover that setting small, attainable, customized goals really can lead to big results. Recently a client who shifted this mindset went from rarely exercising to, in the last few months, exercising 4-5 days per week and loving it! She says it’s like being freed from a self-imposed prison of all-or-nothing.
Do you notice a hint of all-or-nothing in how you operate? If so, you’ve taken the first critical step of noticing this distorted thinking pattern. Delve deeper and notice how it affects your health, relationships and professional life. And how would those things change if you stopped holding yourself hostage to perfectionism?
Then the question is, what needs to change for you to release that mindset? How will you shift it, so that your mindset starts working for you? What would be a more effective mindset to help you both let go and follow through, to achieve what’s most important?
In my experience, this is the crux of ultimate success or failure. I say “ultimate” because when we step out and take risks, we will fail. But when viewed correctly, failure is simply training. You can have all the know-how on what to do and how to do, but your mindset runs your behavior.
Which mindset is running yours?