Using the All-Or-Nothing Mindset to Your Advantage
“I know what I need to do to get in shape. When I try, I can get it done. The problem is I’m all-or-nothing.”
If you’ve said anything similar to this before, you already know this mindset has its drawbacks. But what if told you there’s a way to use it to your advantage?
You may just be going all-in on the wrong things.
First, Acknowledge the Elephant
Why hello there, Elephant. I see you hiding there in the corner of the room. You’re not as discreet as you think.
You try to make us believe that “all-or-nothing” is a default setting. You don’t want us to realize there are other things in our lives that we don’t have this mindset with at all.
We might be late for work one day, but that doesn’t start us on a phase of abandoning our job for months at a time. Or we might get busy and forget to make dinner, but that doesn’t cause us to stop feeding our kids for weeks on end.
We view these things as necessities and just make them work. Even if our routine gets thrown off, it doesn’t become all-or-nothing, we adapt.
Diet and exercise may not seem as significant as having a job or feeding your kids, but the long-term consequences of putting them off can be just as dire.
Mr. Elephant, you hope we don’t notice.
But I see you.
The ultimate goal is not to learn how to be all-in, all the time. It’s finding a system that works for you. One that’s easily adapted even in the busiest, most distracting of seasons.
That won’t happen overnight.
In the meantime, I have a strategy that can help you get that system started without immediately shifting out of the all-or-nothing mindset. Let’s talk about how to use it to your advantage.
All-In on the Right Things
If a certain path leads to a dead end, it doesn’t matter how tenaciously you hike that trail, it’ll always end the same way.
That’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make with an all-or-nothing mindset.
Your motivation is high and you feel like you can take on anything. So you dive headfirst into a new program that you know will give you results, with no regard to whether it’s an approach that would ever give you long-term success to begin with.
To avoid a dead end, you need to look for three different road signs:
These are different types of goals, and once you’ve identified them, that’s when you’re ready to go all-in.
Outcome Goals: WHAT You Want
This is something like, “I want to lose 10 pounds.” It’s the ultimate outcome you hope to achieve.
The problem is, if it’s the only goal you have, you might end up working on things like your “diet,” and “exercise,” and that will get you nowhere.
That’s right, you heard it here first: working on diet and exercise is a bad idea.
It’s not specific enough.
It’ll cause you to jump on the current diet and workout trend for a few weeks and then it’ll be over. Dead end. Go back to where you started.
It was “all,” and then it’s “nothing.” Just like last time. You need more than an outcome goal.
Performance Goals: HOW You’ll Get It
This type of goal tells you what you’ll work on to reach your outcome.
If you want to lose 10 pounds, saying you’ll work on your diet isn’t enough. But there are plenty of performance goals you could pick in that category. My top pick would either be to improve your portion sizes or food quality.
But that’s still not specific enough.
There are a million different ways to work on either one of those things. If you’re going all-in on something, you need a clearer focus.
Process Goals: Specific ACTIONS
Now that you know what you want and how you’ll get it, you need to plan your specific actions.
With portion control, we recommend the hand guide. You could track all your portions this way, or you could laser-focus even more and work only on getting the right amount of protein at each meal (roughly 1-2 palm sized portions).
This will help you lose weight by inherently lowering your calories and keeping you more full between meals.
Whatever process goal you choose, it has to make sense in conjunction with the other goals.
Another example would be if your outcome goal was to build up your glutes, your performance goal might be to do full body strength workouts three times per week, and your process goal could be to include 15 total sets of glute exercises throughout those workouts.
The specific actions you take (process goal) have to line up with the thing you want to work on (performance goal) to accomplish your objective (outcome goal).
This Isn’t Easy
I already hear someone complaining that working on something as small as protein portions won’t be stimulating enough to scratch your all-or-nothing itch.
If that’s what you think, you’ve clearly never tried it before.
It may require all kinds of things you’ve never put much thought into, like meal planning, prepping foods ahead of time, trying new foods, adjusting recipes, etc.
Getting enough protein may or may not be the right process goal for you, but if you find the right one, giving it your all will require more than enough effort to be a challenge.
Just remember, you need all three goals. Once you have them, that’s when you can go all-in.
If you’ve put enough thought into it, these goals will keep you motivated longer, and the specific actions will teach you new habits that set you up for success even as that motivation fades.
Of course, you can always make new goals, too. If you’re not sure what to work on, we send out weekly emails with all kinds of diet and exercise tips you can pull from. We never send spam. And it’s also the easiest way to get in touch with us if you have questions. Sign up for that here.