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All or about something in between?

Updated: Sep 17, 2023


#1 - A THOUGHT with Two Strategies:

Having an all or nothing mentality can be a gigantic obstacle to progressing towards your health goals. How many times have you intended to get a walk or workout in but your day got away from you so you ditched the idea all together? Or when was the last time you started out the morning with a well thought out eating plan, only to find yourself mindlessly snacking by midday, ordering pizza for dinner and topping the day of with ice cream and a heaping serving of guilt and shame? It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if you can't do a certain behavior 100% you will skip it all together. That's all or nothing thinking. The good news is there are SIMPLE strategies that can help.

Strategy #1 - Design a Spectrum of Success ahead of time. Let's apply this idea to the behavior of getting to the gym. If "ALL" is getting to the gym at the intended time and doing the pre-planned work out and "NONE" is doing nothing, what are the points in between? You might consider thinking in terms of GOOD, BETTER, BEST. It might be BEST if things went as planned, but good and better are still viable options for success. Maybe BETTER is getting to the gym later than expected and doing an abbreviated workout. Maybe GOOD is taking a walk around the block. It's up to you. The possibilities for a "successful workout" are endless when you broaden your view. Plan your spectrum of success ahead of time and see how your progress gains momentum.

Strategy #2 - Focus on reinforcing the habit rather than completing the task. When we are trying out a new, unfamiliar habit our brain easily gravitates towards an all or nothing approach. To combat this try focusing on the actual habit instead of fixating on completing the task. The goal is to master the act of engaging in the habit. Start with the tiniest, most minimal aspect of that behavior. Let's use taking a walk after dinner as our example. Maybe your intention is to take a sunset stroll after dinner, but your dishes are piled up, it's cold out and it's getting dark. Rather than skipping the task altogether do the bare minimum. Maybe that means putting on your shoes and walking down your street, or down your driveway or even just stepping out your front door. By focusing on the action rather than the completion of the task you are telling your brain this new habit is here to stay. You are cementing this action into your behavior pathways even if it's in a very minimal way. Eventually the habit will blossom and the task will be more easily completed.

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