If you’re not moving forward on something (big or small!), there may be a common mistake you’re making that’s keeping you stuck: all or nothing thinking.
I hope this post helps bring you some awareness so you’ll be able to get moving again on the important things you want to accomplish.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
I love when life inspires my blog posts!
Has this ever happened to you? You talk to friends and you hear the same message repeated (though the details of the story will vary).
When I see this type of pattern, I interpret it as life sending me a message.
The other day I was talking to a friend and she hasn’t exercised in over a year. A YEAR!! Not even a down-dog. Not a YouTube video or even a walk outdoors. Nothing!
The same week another friend wanted to take a class. She said it would be absolutely impossible to take an online, self-paced course because she was too busy.
Later that week, a THIRD friend told me that her bathrooms hadn’t been cleaned in over a month. Not a single part of it.
I’m curious. What do you see in common?
All or Nothing Thinking
I noticed that all my friends had something in common.
If they couldn’t do it the “right” way, they weren’t going to do it AT ALL!!
Take the first example.
My friend didn’t work out because, during COVID, she couldn’t go to the gym. She ADORES a gym workout. It’s nice and challenging and it feels “real” to her. Working out to a DVD or youTube? Or taking a walk outside? Not so much.
No way she was going to exercise if she couldn’t do it the “right” way and get a complete full-body workout.
And we’re not judging her. She’s a strong woman and I admire her so much.
Most of us do this with some part of our life and we don’t even realize.
Let’s take my friend who had no time to take the class.
She had no time to take the class, but that was an excuse.
She had time, what she didn’t have the time to do was sit down, focused, for hours at a time, and do the coursework.
With her schedule, she’d need to do it piecemeal. A little one day, a little the next, maybe a few days with nothing.
Do you see the trend here?
What about my friend who didn’t clean her bathroom? She confessed that if she couldn’t clean it 100%, top to bottom, she wouldn’t even start. So she let it be. Can I blame her? Who has the energy (or enthusiasm) to pull our tired bodies off the couch and clean the whole bathroom from top to bottom?
Not me, that’s for sure.
A New Way of Thinking
I want to introduce you to a new way of thinking.
To live a balanced life, you need to ease your way in.
Balance means taking baby steps. It means doing things “incorrectly” so they actually get done. It means doing things “partially” and being okay with that.
You are never going to feel balanced or get things done with all-or-nothing thinking.
I invite you to think of scenarios where you do this.
Where do you use all-or-nothing thinking?
What All-or-Nothing Thinking Really Is
It’s a form of procrastination.
It’s also a form of perfectionism.
If we can’t do it perfectly, why do it at all?
Instead, let’s think about how you can be creative and do things imperfectly, yet still get them done.
Make it Fun & Easy
It’s funny because I’m always talking about having FUN in this blog. I find that FUN is the thing that lots of Moms miss.
But when you do things imperfectly, you have the opportunity to make them FUN!
Let’s take the class as an example. Who wants to sit through series of videos, books, coursework, etc.
The cool thing is that once you remove all-or-nothing thinking, you can introduce FUN ways to do things!
How can we make this FUN, and actually get it done with a busy life?
Or better yet, how can we make things EASY?
Making things FUN or EASY are the two ways to combat all or nothing thinking.
I recently got a puppy and signed up for an online puppy training class.
It’s an amazing class — but I thought it would be mostly video but instead, it’s mostly reading!!
UGH!! I do not have time to sit around and read a website for hours!! (It’s a great class, BTW. She also has lots of videos. But you still have to read, too.)
The puppy was getting older every day and I couldn’t find time to do the reading.
With all or nothing thinking, I would have given up.
Instead here’s what I did. I did research and found a way to have my computer read the text to me!
So you see how I found a way?
Was I doing the class optimally? YES!! I’m an auditory learner. But By cheating and doing it the “wrong way,” I was actually learning a lot more than I would have learned otherwise.
It was win-win.
Lose the All-Or-Nothing Thinking
Erasing all-or-nothing thinking will help you get things done, and that’s the goal. It doesn’t have to be done perfectly. However, a badly cleaned bathroom is much better than a bathroom that’s not cleaned at all.
Think of where you can get rid of all-or-nothing thinking so you can get more done, even if it’s done imperfectly.