It is hard to believe that we will turn the calendar page to February this week. Where did the 1st month of 2017 go? Ready or not, time marches on as we say goodbye to the first month of the New Year. By late January, many of us have already given up on our New Year’s Resolutions (remember the ones you made about a month ago?). Although we all make resolutions with good intention, so many of them aren’t met because of the way we view progress toward them. Many of us don’t make progress toward these goals because of a common thinking error, whether we are aware of this error in our self-talk or not.
The thinking error referred to here is called All or Nothing Thinking, and believe me, it has helped send many of my plans and goals into an overflowing mental trash can. In other words, until I began to look closely at my own thinking errors, if I didn’t achieve strict adherence to my resolutions or goals (like 100%), I told myself I had failed. This led to another thought – Why try? I repeatedly gave up, but I didn’t have to, and after much trial and error, I learned to challenge my perfectionistic self-sabotaging thoughts and make progress toward my best intentions and goals!
As we end January 2017, I suggest giving up All or Nothing Thinking instead of our New Year’s Goals! Let’s define a resolution as a long-term plan. As such, long-term plans develop despite successes and failures along the way. The important point is to persevere through setbacks. Don’t allow them to end your pursuit of meaningful change and growth, use a “reset” strategy instead of throwing in the towel when our efforts fall short of our goals.
We’re human. We fall. We get back up. We did this over and over until we learned to walk somewhere around our first year of life. We have done it ever since. If it worked then, why would we abandon the practice now? Maybe because, somewhere along the way, we developed a habit of believing our thinking errors, like All or Nothing Thinking. Today, you can “reset” your expectations (and your thinking) as you continue to pursue your New Year’s Resolutions.
Let’s define success in any area as accomplishing what you set out to accomplish. The road to success in not straight – it is a curvy journey we are all on. Although the path changes (detours come and go, you know), there is no need to stop heading in the direction of attaining those goals you have set for yourself. Know that change happens and setbacks are inevitable, but push the “reset” button as soon as you realize it. Soon, you’ll be much closer to reaching your New Year’s Resolutions, and you’ll learn more about how All or Nothing Thinking affects not only goal-attainment, but also many other areas of our lives!
Written by Tammie D. Martin, M.Ed., LPC-Supervisor
All or Nothing Thinking is a very common type of thinking error commonly made in our self-talk. Gratefully, I have learned a lot about managing my own all or nothing thinking through years of trial and error. You can also learn more about this and other common thinking errors in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. We are what we think!