For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had an all or nothing attitude. I can either do something very well or not do it at all. Unfortunately, this leaves room for little, if any, gray area in between.
The all or nothing attitude is the platform of a perfectionist. It’s the voice that says, “If I start this blog, it had better be successful”. “If I start going to the gym, I’m there 4-5 days a week and working hard on reaching my goals”. It’s the thoughts in my head that tell me that I won’t be good enough, so why should I even start in the first place.
A clue that “all or nothing” thinking is happening are the words, “anything,” “everything,” and “nothing.”
There are both pro’s and con’s to an all-or-nothing thinking pattern:
- I tend to achieve more in life
- I end up highly skilled in variety of areas
- I am able to focus on one thing and go for it
- I have high expectations of myself
- I can turn it on in emergencies for extra power and stamina
- I hardly suffer from boredom
- I tend to be a bit high strung
- To kick back and relax is difficult
- I tend to overuse my body
- I find it difficult to just do things for fun without wanting to achieve excellence
- I am hard on myself
- It can paralyze me (“…if I can’t do it perfectly, I’m not even going to try.”)
- I’m not good enough
- It can sabotage effort
Now, I’m not always an all-or-nothing person. I think it really depends on the situation. I do believe there are shades of grey in all areas. But, when I do have these moments, I can be really hard on myself because I might have felt that I could have done better. Or it’s taken to an extreme and I learn everything about hiking and the best hiking trails in Waterton because of ONE outdoor excursion.
This year, I’m going to learn how to loosen my grip even more on the all-or-nothing way of thinking. (I’ve also decided to stop calling myself a perfectionist. Instead, I’m a person working to overcome perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism doesn’t define me.)
No matter what goals you set, either as New Year’s resolutions or just because you’re ready for a change, don’t let the all-or-nothing mentality stop you in your tracks. And if you’re like me and struggle with that mindset, try to remember to enjoy the here and now. Being hard on yourself robs you of living in the present.
Any tips that have worked for you? Please share them in the comments below!
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