Why do so many people have this all or nothing mindset? There is a famous song titled “All or Nothing,” an all or nothing option in finance, and even an all or nothing lottery. No matter where you look, you most likely have heard this expression being used by the masses, and it’s a mentality many people carry in all aspects of their life. If this was an athletic venture where there’s a clear-cut loser and a winner, I would completely agree with those mantras to give it your all, leave nothing on the field and yadda yadda. But this is life we are talking about and I am a firm believer that this statement is not the best to live by. Often it is used as an excuse to do nothing or have nothing. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather have something than nothing.
If you take a brief moment to Google all or nothing quotes, it’s astonishing how many there are and how many memes have been created with some variation of the expression. When I Googled it, I did however find one that piqued my interest. “She wanted all or nothing, illogically, irrationally, even though something inside of her knew that nothing would be too hard, and all was impossible.” This hits the nail on the head. Having nothing would suck and having it all is essentially impossible. Let’s go over two scenarios.
Scenario One: you have this all or nothing mindset and decide to start working out. Because you have this mindset you can’t gradually work up to working out 5 times per week, you just jump right in. Working out 5 times per week, each session going all out, you know because that’s what you do. All or nothing mentality. However, after day 3 in a row your body starts to feel like shit, super sore, super achy, tired. Day 4 comes along and you don’t work out. Day 5, same story and this leads to giving up and saying working out is too hard.
Scenario Two: you think about working out, decide you can’t give it your all so you never start.
Both of these scenarios end with nothing.
Look, the idea behind all or nothing I get. You’re eager, you don’t want to do something half-heartedly, and so on. However, most of the time it is absolutely unrealistic to think that you will go from doing nothing to everything all at once.
A tactic and mindset that would be better suited in getting you where you want to be is Something is Better than Nothing. I like to think when you set the bar reasonably low at the beginning of forming a habit, the more likely you are to succeed both short term and long term. For example, if you are interested in starting to exercise, do some sort of physical activity twice a week for the next 3 weeks. Then once 3 weeks have gone by, assess how you’ve done and make your goals either harder or easier depending on how you did. If you didn’t meet your expectations, regress the goal a little. If you did meet your expectations, make your goals a little more difficult. Keep doing this and adjusting until you have some clear consistency. Once you have consistency, a habit has been created and you can start to work towards building another.
Having patience is a major key that will help you find the Strength you are searching for. Success does not happen over night, habits take time to build. Enjoy the journey and stop looking for shortcuts.