03 Feb Is It Really All-or-Nothing?


Either you’re stress-binging on sugar, or following the strictest diet. You’re in the dumps about the stock market crashing, or you have completely stopped paying attention to your portfolio. You’ve been working out 365 days a year, or are planning to start exercising next Monday. You are having a most terrible day, or the best day of your life. You compare yourself to others and feel worthless, or your arrogance makes you feel far superior to others. You’re consuming 5 glasses of wine tonight, or sticking to water and wishing you weren’t. Finally, even at your age, you are still trying to please your parents, or you couldn’t care less what they think.

An all-or-nothing mentality will result in the failure to blend both the positive and negative qualities of  yourself and/or others … into a cohesive whole.  Anyone who thinks like this will find no middle ground, and make no compromises.

I’m guilty of this, as I tend to think and act in extremes — all good or all bad, with no middle ground.  In high school, I was obsessed with basketball and lived in the gym for 3-4 hours after school, on most days … but I wouldn’t go at all when  I only had an hour. At work, I’ll write 20 hand-written notes at once. I don’t bother to sit down and write just 1 per day. As a result of having an all-or-nothing personality, I often overuse my body and forget to do things just for fun.

Realize that all-or-nothing thinking is not always bad. In fact, I think that this way of thinking has helped me at times. When I’m at home, I try to be fully present with my family. When I’m at work, I try to be entirely focused on the big priorities. When I’m writing early in the morning, I try to avoid any possible distractions. You see, if you start something and are consumed by it … you just might finish it. I almost quit writing my upcoming book at least 100 times. All-or-nothing thinking has helped me to focus, has helped me to set high expectations,  and because I avoid boredom … I feel that achieve more.

Don’t cripple your positive experiences with  all-or-nothing thinking.  Instead, challenge your your negative ones with this one simple tip …

Click to Tweet: Stop seeing everything as all OR nothing. Start seeing BOTH the all AND the nothing. Then, make the best choice. @derekdeprey #movetogrow

Stop polarizing your all-or-nothing behavior, and start blending your choices together. Visualize a colorful beach ball. If you look at the side view, you only see 3 colors, but if you look at the top view, you see all 6  colors. Think indulging AND dieting … active AND sedentary … positive AND negative. Make sure that most choices are on the table before you make decisions and take actions. Stay calm. See the gray area. If you are struggling to choose, think long-term benefits vs. the short-term gratification. Do your personal values match the “all” highs or the “nothing” lows? You get to choose! Don’t you feel encouraged and empowered?

Always striving for perfection can paralyze you.  In fact, most of the time, I think that progress is better than perfection. Eating healthy 50% of the time is better than eating poorly 100% of the time. Stretching for 15 minutes a day beats not moving at all. Try to be less rigid in your thinking.

Here’s the bottom line … all-or-nothing thinking is usually situational. Stop saying, “I can’t do it because it’s all-or-nothing for me”, when it’s actually NOT all-or-nothing. Stop using all-or-nothing words, such as never and always, or absolutely.

ACTION: Stop letting an all-or-nothing mentality hold you back, or cause you to give up on what you desire to change. Start a journal and jot down all of your extreme all-or-nothing situations. Under each, brain-dump as many behaviors and choices that come to mind. Take note of the behaviors and choices that will positively impact your life the most. Finally, discuss your scenarios with a mentor to help you see both sides.

Want more of Derek’s insights? Sign up yourself or a friend for complimentary updates!

Book Derek to speak at your organization or next event.