The Perils of “All or Nothing” Thinking

Posted on Posted in Accountability, Organization

Welcome to 2016 Friends of Beyond Belief Barriers!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and took time to celebrate all of your accomplishments in 2015.  My family and I had a great time relaxing, reflecting and rejuvenating over the week and a half we had together.  There were many traditions shared as well as a few new fun things like going to the Sisters movie with my mom, all making for a great celebration of time together.

Following the holidays we all find ourselves in the first work week of 2016 with complete rejuvenation and readiness to tackle our goals for the year—-Well maybe for about 2-3 days and then the routine settles in again and we find our minds drifting to how relaxing time off was and how we wish would have appreciated it a little more.

Time away from our responsibilities and commitments is glorious, yet deep inside we know that we have more to give than continuously lounging and indulging in holiday decadence.  With that thought, we pledge to deeply engage with life in new ways to bring about our best selves.  This is where resolutions come in and often dichotomy, otherwise known as “all or nothing thinking.”

I am no stranger to dichotomous thinking, I consider one of my best traits to be discipline, which lends itself to excellent vigilance in seeing a goal through 100%.  That said, it also results in burnout, lack of flexibility and unhappiness.  It leads you into the valley of limited choices.  I know this because I’ve been there, staying in a job I didn’t enjoy because I couldn’t see any other options beyond full time work or unemployment.

Yet when you look around in nature there is so much gray.  Right now it’s supposed to be winter in Cincinnati, however there is no snow, the average temperature is 45 degrees and kids are playing outside.  If the anticipated blustery winter never comes, nature will go on its merry way with the ground releasing its flowers a little earlier.

Dichotomous thinking prevents us from living creatively with the resources and options we have available to us.  Remembering that there is a spectrum available at all times allows us to customize the world’s abundant options to our unique needs.

There are a lot of examples as to how this may come to life in your New Year’s resolutions, I’ll share a few to get you started:

  • Spectrum—Exercising

(least extreme) Coach potato–>walking 20 minutes; 3 days a week–> 1 weekly weight exercise/ (3) 30 min. aerobic workouts–> (2) weight exercises/ (3) 30 min. aerobic workout–>1 hour of exercise a day (most extreme)

–You get the drift—you could also add in dancing in your house/picking up your baby 25X a day/gardening or whatever else intentionally pushes your body to add more dimensions to your exercise options.

  • Spectrum—Saving Money

(least extreme) Spending 10% more than your monthly take home pay–>Spending 100%–>Spending 75% take home/25% savings due to cutting out restaurants/cable/switching cell carriers–> 50 spend /50 save; major cuts to meet Financial Independence goals. (most extreme)

  • Spectrum—Having a job you love

(least extreme) Working at a job you dislike 50+ hours a week–>working at a job 35 hours a week (to pay bills)+ investing into an entrepreneurial job you love–>20 hours a week job to pay bills/20 hours a week in a job you love/Financial Savings to make up for $$ shortfalls–>Being in a job you LOVE. (most extreme)

The intention here is to get creative, know you have options and empower yourself to meet your long term objectives without burning out in the process.

Have you set a goal for yourself that feels overwhelming?  Are you already feeling its weight on Day #6 of the New Year?  If so, you may be a victim of dichotomous thinking and there are solutions!  Take time to draw out your own personal spectrum and see what options you may have between “all or nothing.”

Have fun with it and check in with your progress on the blog!