Spring cleaning and all-or-nothing thinking
Updated: 2 days ago
All of a sudden it really feels like spring! And I don’t know about you, but this means I immediately want to clean my house, clear out clutter and get rid of things, open the windows, get outside, take on new projects – spring is motivating and energizing.
This year however, instead of finding huge projects to take on or looking for major overhauls I can make in my life, I’m reminding myself that just because my motivation is high at the moment doesn’t mean I have to take on a massive project (which, let’s be honest, would probably just fizzle out as this burst of motivation and intention inevitable wanes).
Doing small actions each day and not pushing to the point of burnout means I will be much more likely to accomplish things in the long run.
As humans it’s really easy for us to get stuck in an all-or-nothing mindset.
Either I do this whole giant project at once or I don’t even try to get started. Either I do a hard 45-minute workout, or I skip it altogether. Either I totally cut out caffeine or I drink coffee all day long...the all-or-nothing mindset can show up in all areas of our lives.
And anytime you find yourself thinking in terms of an “either/or” decision, it’s likely there are actually a whole bunch of options in between that “all” and “nothing.” (Plus, when we think in terms of all-or-nothing, we almost always choose the “nothing” part of that equation.)
If you catch yourself falling into the all-or-nothing trap, shifting that mindset to instead think of a continuum of options can be a helpful way to see what other choices are available to you.
What is the best and worst choice you could make?
Is there somewhere in between those two that feels manageable or realistic at that particular moment?
To take the exercise example, if my best choice is to do an intense 45-minute weightlifting session and my worst choice is to sit on the couch watching TV, perhaps I could take a walk or do some yoga, or just 10 minutes of weights, or foam roll while I watch TV.
Or in my case with spring fever, instead of trying to clean my entire house, I can clean out one drawer, or wash one window. And tomorrow, I can do one other thing. That way I’m much more likely to complete bigger projects without crashing and burning after one crazy day of spring cleaning.
So, if you find yourself contemplating either/or decisions or with an all-or-nothing choice, perhaps there is an in between option that feels right or is an appropriate compromise. Seek out that smaller, more manageable step you can do right now when doing “all” is not possible.
This quote from Precision Nutrition founder John Berardi sums it all up nicely: “Instead of all-or-nothing, think always something.”
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