Stories

Break Free from All-or-Nothing Thinking

Jun 4, 2021
Wellbeing

Imagine if the lottery office called you up and said, “Congratulations! You are one of the winners of the jackpot! You get to share fifteen million dollars with three other people!” Then imagine saying, “oh, no thanks. I don’t want it if I can’t have the whole thing.”

Imagine a friend bringing a cake to a party and cutting slices for everyone. She hands one to you and you say, “Nah, it’s not worth it if I can’t have all of the cake.” 

Imagine arriving at the movie theatre and being confused when your friend buys a ticket for only one movie. “What’s the point if you don’t get to see all of them?”

These scenarios sound silly, don’t they? Of course you would be thrilled to get a share of the jackpot or enjoy a piece of cake, and you’d never expect to watch every movie shown on a single day. But this kind of all-or-nothing thinking is exactly what we use when we think we can’t get started on our health goals until we can have the whole thing.

In a conversation this week with a client, we discussed the opportunities she had for exercise during the week. Like many of us, she’s got a lot going on, and it was legitimately difficult to find a time of day that would be consistently available for her to exercise. After a bit of discussion she said, “It’s just not in the cards for me right now.”

If she couldn’t have the best case scenario of exercise, which for her is an hour of uninterrupted time to walk, then it was off the table. It wasn’t going to happen.

Well, we’ve all been in this kind of situation in one way or another. As a chronic procrastinator myself, I have often been very certain that the perfect time to get to work on something complicated is after I have rearranged the cups in the kitchen cabinet, folded all of the laundry, and checked the expiration dates on everything in the pantry. After all, I won’t be able to focus on my work until I can give it 100% of my attention!


But a portion of the winning lottery ticket is better than nothing. A piece of cake is still delicious. One movie is exactly what you would expect. And, getting started is the hardest part.

So I asked her, “Which would be better: a week when you got to walk two or three times, or a week when you walked zero times?” She replied as I thought she might: a few walks were better than none. And, she set a goal to walk at least two times this week, which made her feel a lot better about her chances for exercise.

Which would be better for you this week: one step towards a more balanced and vibrant life or zero steps? I challenge you to look for the opportunities when you can take one step. You already know about the power of small actions to make big changes! Test the theory!

And then, make a little mental note about the steps you took. Shoot, make a physical note, too! Notice the good things you are doing for yourself and celebrate how even a little bit of something healthy can make you feel … good. You may discover that you begin to see opportunities to squeeze in exercise or make a meal healthier where before you may have thought it wasn’t worth trying.


You are worth the big steps and the small steps. Why wait to feel great? When you start where you are and are willing to accept just a fraction of what’s possible, soon you’ll find that you actually have it all.

 



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Heather Fuselier, CHWC, CFP, TTS

Health Advisor | Email Heather

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