All posts,  Emotional Wellness,  Military Lifestyle Advice

Mindset Check: Why is it ALL or NOTHING with me?

I don’t know about you, but since the time I was a little girl, the concept of “all or nothing” has been a part of my everyday philosophy. In fact this mindset has served me well every time I strive to achieve any type of goal but it’s also bit me in the rear end more times than not.

You name it, I did it intensely or not at all…

  • Exercise: 1 hour daily or it wasn’t worth it.
  • Grades:  A’s or it wasn’t good enough.
  • Diet: Either I am following a perfectly healthy eating regime or what’s the point and off to sugar land I go.
  • Networking:  5 money making activities a day or I wasn’t “working my business properly”.
  • Blogging: Write a blog EVERY day or you are letting your readers down
  • Quit smoking: Yep I had NO willpower and was a “LOSER”  each time I caved until I actually quit on my 7th try (but only after I thought I was going to collapse and die while running with the kids and decided I better quit or I would scar them for life)

These “ideas” are just some of the examples of the “all or nothing” mindset that I, like so many others, have been plagued with forever.

We grow up believing if we don’t do it “right”, if we slack or fail even once that it’s not worth any effort. But I’m slowly realizing that it’s not the huge drastic changes that stick for me.  The stuff that actually works in my life are the things that I really don’t have to think about.  It’s the things that make me feel good when I do them.

For example take my latest goal of competing in a Dirty Girl Run/Obstacle course in Sept. The other day I was doing my “Week 4 Day 2” of the couch to 5k training I am using to prepare and all my desire and motivation went up in a puff of smoke (well more like the sound of a panting dog but …

Anyway, up until yesterday I was LOVING it and really felt good about how quickly I was building up my ability to run. I looked forward to my workouts and felt accomplished as I put a big green X through each day. Well who knows why but W4D2 (week 4 day 2) wasn’t happening according to “the plan” on my fridge.  I did my warm up and began my run and struggled through the first 5 minutes literally talking to myself the whole time, panting like a dog, just doing whatever I could to make it to 9 minutes.  And when I couldn’t go more than 5 without stopping to walk for a bit I was upset.  Pissed is more like it, but I’ll keep my language in check…

Well after a brief break in running I caught my breath and started again finishing the final 4 minutes struggling all the way. I was frustrated and mad.  I “did” 8 minutes the other day, why couldn’t I at least do that?  I didn’t follow the plan and I failed. So I’m sure it comes at no surprise that the self-doubt started to creep in.  How am I ever going to be able to run a 5k?  I can’t even run for 9 minutes and am not even close to a mile let alone 3.24 miles. Instead of using this experience as motivation, all I could think about was that they would turn the lights out before I even finish. Again the “all or nothing” mindset rears its ugly head!

Thankfully “balance” is this years mantra or I may not be writing this today.  I realized that the importance is taking action.  Any action.  I often talk about how it’s simply about moving forward not about how fast you do so.  Reality check for the “diva” – I need to walk the talk I’m talking. Yes even for me I know that there are so many instances in my life that I need to take a little of my own medicine….Do as I say not as I do,  right?

It’s not about that 9 minute choppy run on a windy cold day in Jan.  It’s about the fact that I got my booty out the door and ran as best I could. I didn’t use an excuse to stay inside, and some action is moving me farther along than no action. I need to remember that it’s the consistency that will get me there, not one day, one workout, one missed run.  For that matter it’s not one dessert, one phone call, or one setback that will make or break anything.  And most importantly in life,  it’s not all or nothing.  It’s a process and it’s that “all or nothing” attitude  that stands in my way of true success in many things.

Things sure would be different if I just focused on doing my best and continue to take action in ways that work on any given day at any given time.  It’s as simple as an apple over a piece of Godiva.  Yoga over the latest episode of some stupid show.  A run over sitting on the couch. It’s all those small choices that will add up and move me forward over time, not “the plan”.

I really think that the “all or nothing” mindset can undermine our ability to enjoy the journey toward our goals, and if we used “The plan” as a guide rather than the thing to measure our worth we’d be a lot better off. So I’m going to work on continuing to make choices and take actions in little bits, focusing on not beating myself up if my plan (or my run) falls short once in a while.  I’m human, life happens and doing something is way better than doing nothing in the grand scheme of things!


~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *