What's Better than All-or-Nothing?

There are so many quotes that invoke "all-or-nothing" when it comes to life goals, and while I appreciate the general message (perseverance, motivation, commitment, etc.), I think “all-or-nothing” does a disservice to most people.

Consider the sedentary woman training for her first marathon. She doesn't run 26 miles the first day, instead, she might start with a half-mile jog and a mile walk. Her long-term goal isn't accomplished in a single run but rather through the course of several months. Each day she does something to reach her goal. She started with a single step.

Or look at online behemoth, Google. The company started as a research project for two Stanford PhD students. Each step moved the company toward what it is today.

On a smaller and more personal scale, I got stuck writing this post. I knew what I wanted to say but was getting stuck in “perfection” mode. I started writing single words (marathon, perfectionism, journey, change, something rather than nothing, overwhelm) and tying them together and it morphed into a finished post!

What if we changed all-or-nothing philosophy with one that is a little gentler and more sustainable and based on the well-known proverb:

Here are some tips to help begin your journey:

  • Realize that something is better than nothing

  • You don’t have to have things figured out perfectly or completely to begin

  • Things can and will change and evolve

Ask yourself: what is one thing I can do today?

Set a timer for 20 minutes and do the one thing right now. Put down your phone, turn off your computer, TV, Netflix, lock yourself in a room.

Congratulations! You did one thing. At the end of a week, that’s 7 things or 140 minutes. At the end of a month, that’s 30 things, or 600 minutes.

When looking forward, 600 minutes seems like a lot of time (and it is 10 hours!) When looking, each of those small moments in time are quite doable.


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