I don’t know where we get the “all or nothing” attitude. I suppose it stems from perfectionism. If we can’t do it all, why bother doing anything? But that thinking is flawed, and it keeps us stuck.
I’ve been thinking about this as a negative, but let me turn it to the positive for a moment. I’m a “big picture” kind of person. A while back I had a principal who provided the whole staff with Strengthsfinder 2.0 books, and we all took the test to find our strengths. I wasn’t terribly surprised to find that my strongest came out as “ideation.”
According to the Strengthsfinder folks, “People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.” In other words, I see things as part of a whole, and can envision how they all connect together. This is very helpful when I’m planning lessons and units in school, when I’m renovating parts of my home, or when I’m designing a quilt.
The flip side of this, for me anyway, is that I sometimes get lost in the details. I know what I want the whole thing to look like and how I want it to function, but all the little bits and pieces of making it happen sometimes trip me up. That’s where I get stuck.
Instead of writing a whole novel, I need to start with an outline. Instead of cleaning the whole house, I need to wash the dishes. Instead of losing 100 pounds, I need to go for a walk. Breaking down these big goals into smaller, more manageable ones, isn’t hard, it just doesn’t come easily or naturally to me. I want to do it all, and I want to do it now. I know that’s not realistic for large goals, so I tend to do nothing instead. How crazy is that?
I have to stop myself and make myself hear how ridiculous I’m being. I would never expect a student to get an idea for a research paper then turn in that finished paper the same morning. I wouldn’t expect my son to take up a new sport and be and expert at it in the same week. I wouldn’t expect my dog to master a new behavior the first time she tries it. So why do I expect so much of myself?
I CAN lose a hundred pounds. It will take a long time and I will get tripped up along the way, but I have to expect that and forgive myself and keep moving forward. I CAN be a published author, but not if I don’t hone my craft and submit my writing to publishers. I CAN keep my home neat and tidy, but not if I don’t spend 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there to keep up with it.
Many imperfect steps in the correct direction will lead me far further down the path I wish to travel than just a few perfect steps. I have to keep this in mind and just keep moving. Living in a state of inertia, while easy, holds no rewards. With risk comes reward, and with work comes success. Wish me success and I try to learn this lesson over and over again.
May 28, 2014 at 8:18 am
I’m pretty much in the same boat, I have to make my small goals even smaller to think about making an accomplishment here or there.
May 28, 2014 at 8:27 am
I find it frustrating to have to piece things into such small chunks in order to get them done. I tell myself, “you’re smart, why can’t you do this?” when I would never expect it of others. I guess we all need to give ourselves a break while simultaneously giving ourselves a kick in the rear. Not easy to do! 🙂 Thanks for chiming in.
May 28, 2014 at 8:23 am
I wish you success and I hope you will reach all your goals. Whatever it is :o)
May 28, 2014 at 8:27 am
You are always so encouraging! Thanks, Easy. 🙂
May 28, 2014 at 11:01 am
This is a lesson that took me a while to learn and I am still practicing it. Right now, my keyword is uncertainty. And I’ve been trying to find the joyful surprises in uncertainty instead off fear. This goes hand in hand with letti go of the details and directing the play of your life. I am finding it to be quite an interesting adventure!
May 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm
It’s a tough lesson to master. I’ve been working on it for a long time, sometimes with more success, other times with less. Thanks for chiming in, it’s always good to hear from you, Jen.
May 28, 2014 at 1:13 pm
I can’t remember which wise person said, “consider the possibility that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly”, but I remind myself of it from time to time.
May 28, 2014 at 1:28 pm
Not entirely awful advice. 🙂
May 29, 2014 at 4:19 pm
I wish you the best of luck in trying to learn this exact same lesson I’ve been trying to learn, forever. I’ve written posts about this all or nothing syndrome, more than once. What can I say, I’m just an all or nothing kind of gal. LOL All we can do is just keep trying and maybe, just maybe one day we’ll get it. I don’t think I ever will. I’ve been working on it for a long, long time, but maybe you will get it. My therapists keep getting on me about this all or nothing business. I’m just the same way. If I can’t get it all done, then why even do it at all. I was told it was a form of perfectionism, blah, blah, blah…………………………………………. Good luck, girl! 🙂 Take care. I hope all is “well” with you. 🙂
May 29, 2014 at 7:41 pm
I think there are a lot of us with this type of outlook, but it doesn’t serve us well. I’ll just keep on trying. Hey, so far I’m down 15 pounds… not the 100 plus I need to lose, but a good start, and I choose to celebrate that. Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate your support.
May 29, 2014 at 7:59 pm
I think you are right. It is not a good way to live. Moderation is a very hard thing for me. Once I get on a roll, I’m not stopping till I’m done and then I’m in bed sick for days, weeks, or even months. Not worth it and I need to knock it off, myself.
Congrats on the 15 pounds, that’s awesome. That is an excellent start. You deserve to celebrate that, that’s for sure. Keep up the good work.:)