3 Steps To Free Yourself From An All-Or-Nothing Mindset

I used to live in the place of all or nothing.

My ‘all’ looked like eating a specific number of calories a day of only foods I had labeled as healthy, working out for a certain amount of time in very specific ways, and making sure not to deviate even 3 calories, 1 mile, or a few bites from my plan.

On the occasional day where I’d check all the boxes, I felt on top of the world.

For every other day that I didn’t, I felt like a total failure.

If a friend baked me a birthday cake and I didn’t know the exact ingredients or calories in my celebratory slice, the day was ruined. If a work obligation came up and I couldn’t make it to my hot yoga class on time, the world came crumbling down.

Most moments were day-ruined, world-crumbling-down moments. The moments that weren’t were full of fear that failure was just around the corner.

Where are you feeling stuck in an all or nothing mindset?

All or nothing thinking keeps us stuck in a cycle of exhaustion and failure. It also causes us to miss out on a lot of the goodness of everyday life.

With all or nothing thinking, there’s no room for flexibility, no room for a change in plans, no room for spontaneity. Your narrow definition for success here is nearly (if not wholly) impossible to meet.

When you move away from the limiting belief that everything must be perfect or everything is wrong, so many opportunities for presence, joy, and growth open up for you. Here are three simple yet powerful steps to help you start to experience more of that goodness:

#1.  Identifying the shoulds and rules that make up your ‘all’ and start slowly shedding those shoulds and breaking those rules

How do you define ‘perfect’ or ‘all’ in the area of your life where you’re struggling with this limiting mindset?

You have a set of rules, shoulds and / or expectations that define this concept in a specific area of your life and letting it go requires you to really understand what it is in the first place. Put pen to paper and brain dump the details here.

Once you’ve gotten clear on your personal definition, you can start to experiment with breaking one rule or shedding one should at a time.

Ask yourself, ‘what’s one rule I’m committed to breaking or one should I’m going to shed in the next seven days?’

#2. Start to see failure as feedback

At any moment where you choose to perceive an experience as a failure, you could in that exact same moment choose to see it as an opportunity for feedback. By that, I mean as an opportunity to learn and grow.

There is so much growth that happens when you’re willing to get curious and being open to the feedback of the situation. Rather than judging yourself for being a failure, you can shift into curiosity.

Life becomes so much less exhausting and scary when you’re open to these opportunities for growth.

Rather than calling yourself a failure, start to ask yourself, ‘what can I learn here?’

#3. Shift from not being perfect to all the ways you’re good

Once you’re in the growth mindset, you’re able to see more than just ‘all’ or ‘nothing.’

A simple question to ask yourself here is, ‘if this didn’t have to be perfect, what good could I see here?’

Simi Botic is a holistic health coach and the author of Letting Go Of Leo: How I Broke Up With Perfection. Through her work, she helps women all over the world ditch perfection, heal their relationships with food and body, and embrace their beautifully imperfect lives. Learn more at www.simibotic.com.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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