Do you ever fall into all-or-nothing thinking?
This is a common logical misfire, and it’s one I find particularly culpable for feelings of overwhelm.
This cognitive distortion is one people fall back on when trying to make sense of disappointment… and it’s usually detrimental and not all that lined up with reality.
For example, imagine you put a lot of work into a pitch for a posting you found on a job board. You’re the perfect fit for the job, you love the company, you know the audience, and you poured your heart into your application.
But the response you receive thanks you for your interest but lets you know they decided to go another way. It specifically notes they liked one of your samples, and hope you’ll pitch again.
All-or-nothing thinking says this was a failure. You didn’t land the project, so you wasted your time… and maybe this whole writing thing isn’t going to pan out.
A healthier (and more honest assessment) is that while you didn’t get this project, you did make an impression, which is a win.
Also, you don’t know how many people applied for the project or what kind of connections they had. You not getting the gig may have had very little to do with the quality of your pitch. Also, every pitch you do — and do well — helps you get better and faster and increases your chances of landing a future project with any client.
In other words, your effort was not a waste of time.
All-or-nothing thinking is just one way we’re rough on ourselves. But it has another effect. It can deepen your sense of overwhelm when you have a lot to do.
All-or-nothing thinking looks at a full to-do list and assesses that you can’t get everything done in the time you have. Rather than prioritize and get to work on what you can do, if you’re trapped in the all-or-nothing mindset, you’ll delay and fret… because if you can’t get it all done, you might as well not do anything.
You can imagine where that leaves you the next day!
So, what can you do about all-or-nothing thinking?
Since it’s so binary, one of the fastest ways to break out of it is to simply list your options — and make sure you come up with more than two.
You can do everything on your list. That’s option one.
You can do nothing on your list. That’s option two.
Or, you can do the three most important things on your list, and then reassess. That’s option three.
Or, you can break your day into four time chunks and work on different things in each one. That’s option four.
Once you have a list of possibilities that includes options outside of all-or-nothing, it’s usually much easier to pick one and move forward. And at the end of the day, that feels so much better than feeling like you fell farther behind.
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That’s all for now. Make it a great week!