If building healthy habits were easy, everyone would look like Barbie and Ken. Unfortunately, as you’ve probably noticed, it’s not that easy.
There are many reasons people fall short when it comes to achieving a fitness, nutrition, or health goal. However, one reason that I hear again and again, is that people struggle to get back on track after making a mistake.
Giving up on a goal after making a small mistake is an overreaction due to an error in mindset.
That’s why I’ve made you the free 2-Minute Mindset Makeover Checklist that you can work through after having a slip-up. This mindset exercise can help you slow down and put things into perspective so that you can bounce back from a mistake and go on to achieve your goals!
I would recommend downloading the 2-Minute Mindset Makeover now, so you can follow-along as we go.
Got it? Okay, let’s get started!
Mindset Case Study: Meet Sharon
Let’s examine what this error in mindset might look like using a case study.
Sharon is a working mother of two in her early 40’s. She has a goal of shedding a few pounds so that she looks and feels more healthy and confident. She has chosen to improve her diet in order to reach this goal.
Sharon has set a short-term goal to eat healthy all week long. She typically eats breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 snacks per day for a total of 35 meals per week.
Monday and Tuesday go great and Sharon’s really proud of herself, all 10 meals were healthy! But on Wednesday morning her boss brings donuts to the weekly meeting.
She tries hard to resist, but the temptation of that delicious donut is just too strong… We’ve all been there.
The next thing Sharon knows, she’s eaten the donut and is beating herself up about it. She tells herself she’ll never be able to reach her goals, and decides to just give up.
She says, I might as well eat whatever I want now. So she grabs a burger at the cafe at work instead of eating the salad she packed for lunch, and grabs a pizza for dinner on the way home.
Have you ever had a slip-up like Sharon and then just completely given up on your goals?
If so, you aren’t alone. But why do we do this, and how can we stop so that we can achieve our goals?
Introducing The All-Or-None Mindset
What we saw in Sharon’s case, is what is often called the “all-or-none mindset”. It is especially common among perfectionists.
The all-or-none mindset is summed up well in the following quote:"The problem is not slipping up; the problem is thinking that if you cannot do something perfectly, then you shouldn’t do it at all." ~ James Clear #AtomicHabits Click To Tweet
The all-or-none mindset is a subset of the “Fixed Mindset” described by Psychologist Dr. Dweck in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”.
The Problem With The All-Or-None Mindset
Take Sharon’s goal of eating healthy all week long. If she eats 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, that’s 35 chances to eat healthy throughout the week.
Does the one unhealthy snack she ate mean that the 10 healthy meals she ate earlier in the week don’t count for anything?
Should one unhealthy snack mean that the 24 meals/snacks that are left in the week won’t do her any good, even if they are healthy?
The obvious answer to both of these questions is NO.
Every little bit matters when it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition goals.
If Sharon was eating 35 UN-healthy meals a week, eating 10 healthy meals (as she did on Monday and Tuesday) is a huge improvement.
And if she would have been able to get back on track after her slip-up, she still could have eaten 34 healthy meals. But instead, she panicked, and quit her goal.
The all-or-none mindset is illogical. It is an emotional overreaction, and flawed way of thinking based on perfectionism. This mindset is a recipe for failure when it comes to health and fitness goals.
Trade the All-Or-None Mindset For The Growth Mindset To Achieve Your Goals
People with the growth mindset understand that mistakes are not the end of the world. In fact, they often don’t feel that mistakes are failures at all. Instead, people with the growth mindset see mistakes as learning opportunities.
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, is perhaps the ultimate example of the growth mindset, as is illustrated by the following quote:
By treating mistakes as learning opportunities, as Thomas Edison does here, quitting is not even considered, because perfection is not required.The growth mindset gives you permission to make mistakes – so long as you learn from them. #ProgressNotPerfection #GrowthMindset Click To Tweet
The 2-Minute Mindset Exercise To Overcome Slip-ups And Avoid Quitting When Things Get Tough
When you have a slip-up on the path to your goal, walk yourself through the following process:
Step 1 – Don’t Panic
Remind yourself that mistakes are only natural and that you don’t have to be perfect to make progress. If you’re into mantras, maybe recite “progress, not perfection” to yourself a few times.
Step 2 – Put It In Perspective
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being super minor, and 10 being the end of the world, how bad was your mistake? Look at the big picture. Is it something you can come back from? Sharon’s mistake certainly was.
Step 3 – Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Beating yourself up when you slip-up doesn’t get you any closer to achieving your goals. In fact, it makes you more likely to quit.
Step 4 – Reflect On Past Successes
Slow down and take a moment to reflect on your past successes (like Sharon’s 10 healthy meals earlier in the week). One mistake isn’t worth throwing away all the hard work you’ve already done.
Step 5 – Learn From Your Mistakes
Once you’re over the emotion of the mistake, ask yourself what went wrong. Learn from this mistake and form a plan as to how to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Going through this 5-step mental process only takes a few minutes and can help you stick to your goals and avoid quitting, even after mistakes are made.
Don’t forget to download your copy of the 2-Minute Mindset Makeover from the Free Resource Library! Keep it somewhere accessible (like stored on your phone, or printed out at home etc.) so you can have it on hand when you need it most!
If you liked this, make sure to check out my next post, which lays out an easy-to-follow 3-step process to troubleshoot any obstacles that come up as you work towards your health and fitness goals!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
- Have you ever quit a goal after making a small mistake?
- Can you think of any situations in the past where you have had the all-or-none mindset?
- What ways have you found to get back on track after having a slip-up on the way to achieving your goal?
Let me know in the comments!
P.S. Don’t forget to download your copy of the 2-Minute Mindset Makeover if you haven’t already!