Don’t change everything at once, just move one notch
Why are some people more successful than others? Here are some possible reasons for instance:
- Successful people think proactively. They anticipate, plan, strategize — and take responsibility.
- Successful people break the chain of events that lead to and reinforce problem behaviors. Then they put new links in place.
- Successful people use mental toughness strategies to stay focused and refocus when needed.
There are many factors in success. Almost all of them (aside from one-in-a-zillion events like being hit by lightning or winning the lottery) can be learned and changed.
Here’s one more success factor: the continuum.
Successful people don’t get stuck in all-or-nothing thinking. They understand that everything is on a continuum.
In fact, all-or-nothing thinking actively holds you back.
Research on change shows that folks who struggle with change (such as changing eating habits) often have one key element in common: all-or-nothing thinking.
They can’t be flexible. For them, the world and their choices are either perfect or awful. And since nobody can be perfect, all-or-nothing thinkers spend a lot of time feeling awful.
Here are some examples of all-or-nothing thinking.
All X is good. All Y is bad.
“I got called into a meeting just before lunch! Now I have to go too long without eating! I’m freaking out!”
“I didn’t eat my colorful veggies today! I’ll probably die of cancer!”
If it’s not perfect, it sucks.
“My squat is terrible. I can’t go as far down as the video shows. Why bother?”
“If I make a tiny mistake, I might as well keep going, because what’s the point?
“I ate one cookie. Well, I might as well finish the bag now.”
“I ate too much on Saturday breakfast. Well, I might as well just keep on overeating for the whole weekend.”
“I have to completely fix everything at once… and immediately.”
“Today, I’m going to get up at 5 am and run, make all organic meals, quit smoking, add 10 lb to my pull-ups, and finally call my mother.”
Sound like anyone you know? Sure, we all think this way, once in a while.
But all-or-nothing thinking is not only illogical and unrealistic, it actively harms you. It holds you back from making true progress.
Let’s go back to our “Opposite Day” strategies to turn things around.
Let’s create shades of grey — the continuum — instead.
To transform your body, you don’t need to swing wildly from end to end of the spectrum. You just need to move one “notch” along the continuum towards slightly more positive choices, actions, and thoughts.
Remember: Don’t swing… just “nudge”.
How can I move along one “notch” in a positive direction today?
And, if you’re already a continuum thinker, keep up the great work! Pay attention: all-or-nothing thoughts pop up occasionally for everyone. Be ready to deal with them.
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