THE BLOG

Is 'All or Nothing' Thinking Bringing You Down?

09/04/2013 16:59 BST | Updated 09/06/2013 10:12 BST

Something has come to my attention more and more lately - both for myself and in what I hear from my clients. It's the disease of 'All or Nothing Thinking'. There's lots of it about and it's scarily detrimental to your state of wellbeing.

You know that underlying feeling that you would start something, but are afraid of not being able to do it as much or as perfectly as you would like? Well, look out for it. If you are prone to this way of thinking you might find it sneaking into many areas of your life - work, chores, weight loss and other health goals, family commitments, hobbies and interests etc. It's all part of the disease called perfectionism and that horror that is at the other end of the scale - procrastination. You might not be surprised to hear that these blocks are incredibly detrimental to being happy, fulfilled and successful and to getting the most out of life.

Today a little bit of 'all or nothing' was flagged up for myself when it manifested in an internal dialogue about going to the gym. One of my goals for the first part of this year was to get fitter. I have been doing pretty well but now have an ankle injury that means I can't do my usual training. So a small voice in my head has been telling me that as I can't do what I need to do I may as well do nothing until the ankle gets better. Luckily I am aware of this phenomena, so the larger voice is going to override this, kick my arse into gear and get down to the gym to benefit from all the other things I can do there that doesn't involve any high impact training!

I also hear it all the time from many of my clients who are often frozen into inaction, as taking action would require a certain amount of failure, or at least a display of imperfection in the initial stages. Even the world's cleverest, most successful of people have had to start somewhere and pretty much all have experienced failure and rejection at some point in their lives. The key is working out how to take the feedback from a disappointing situation, using that feedback to make you stronger and to keep on working at your goal on a regular basis until you achieve what you are after.

Michael Neill put it beautifully in an email newsletter that he sent out recently wishing his readers 'an average day'. What a good idea not to strive to have a great day, as that puts lots of pressure on, but to have a day that is not good, or bad, but somewhere in the middle. How much more could we all achieve if we strive to just do things in a really average way today and every day, instead of having bursts of super activity only once in a while.

I often advise my clients to focus on the smallest of changes that they can make, as doing anything more than nothing is progress in the right direction. It's not the once in a while, big things that will create the biggest positive changes to your life, but a collection of little and often.

I wonder what small steps can you take towards your goal today? I'd love to hear of your experiences and thoughts on having an average day. What could you do a little bit more of today and each day, that in a year you will really notice the difference and feel the accomplishment? I wish you success in anything-more-than-nothing progress towards your goal. www.kirstyhanly.co.uk