All or Nothing Thinking
All or nothing thinking is a deceptive trap. It either borders on perfectionism or defeatism.
When we work to make things perfect in an imperfect world or system, eventually we can see that we just spinning our wheels, going nowhere rapidly, and we burn out.
Sooner or later we come to conclusion that we are beating our heads against a nonyielding wall and we quit. We stop trying to do our best at tasks or assignments, or we stop trying to push initiatives, and , as best we can manage, we stop taking on new things. Our enthusiasm wanes, and we feel doomed.
The problem is that, whether we are talking about taking on a whole new lifestyle, with exercise, diet, good sleep, etc., or trying to fix several disorganized systems at work, we enter into these enterprises with the same all or nothing.
We invest every bit of our free time figuring what we can eat for each meal, how we are going to get to the gym, before and/or after work, and how to get a yoga or meditation class in, as if it comes in a single package.
Statistics will tell you that the number one resolution foe many people is to lose weight. It i little wonder that gyms make their best cash flow in the first few months of every year. Statistics will also tell you that fewer than 10% will have made any headway, or changed any behaviors in a significant way by year’s end. Actually, most don’t even make it through the first 3 week.
Then, after we figure out all the things we need to do, get them all mapped out on paper, or on our smartphones, we invest our emotional energy into trying to force ourselves to do something we really don’t want to do. And, with the energy left, we beat ourselves up because we failed, or messed up on a particular day.
There is an in-between for everything.
You cannot fix every disorganized system at work in a single day, week, or month.
You cannot lose that 30 pounds you’ve been working on for 20 years, in a month.
You will not go to the gym every day, unless you have an accountability partner to meet you there.
You cannot eat well if you are ponying up to your favorite restaurant for most lunches, and your favorite after-work bar every evening.
Find the smallest steps in what you want to do.
Start pulling on the small threads, and after a while the whole bad habit will disintegrate.
Make lunch the night before and carry it in one day a week, this week. Next week, shoot for two days.
Skip a drink with the boys or girls one night a week, then expand.
Commit to go for a walk with a friend once a week, and gently work up to jogging, if that is your goal.
At work, look at all the systems that need to be fixed, talk to the supervisors about what’s happening in their area, talk to front line workers, get concrete suggestions. Then, choose one thing that is costing the most, or is the most disruptive. Make a plan, and implement.
Find that single step that will begin to lead you in the right direction.
Most of life is gray…
Don’t willingly sabotage yourself.