“All-or Nothing” Thinking Is Keeping You Stuck

“What you resist persists.”

 

That’s a sutra or expression that I’ve been familiar with over the past four years. Before becoming a mindfulness coach, helping schools manage stress to improve performance, I was only a practitioner.

For years, I was trying to block thoughts whenever I sat to be still and quiet. Then for even more years, I refused to pick up the practice of meditation and targeted breathing exercises.

I was waiting for the perfect time.

As you may have guessed, it did not come. Instead, I picked up this sutra from my coach, Bill: “What you resist persists.”

A sutra is a short saying or scripture within Buddhism or Hinduism. In Sanskrit, sutra means “note,” “sacred thread,” or “code.”

Yogis or people of spiritual practices use sutras as a guide through life.

I’m suggesting you use this as a “code” to start your transformation. Move from your procrastination in your mind. Take action right away.

But first, drop the resistance. And making the change will be easier.


Many of you are waiting for the “perfect time” right now. As a coach, people come to me when they want to change their exercise, nutrition, lifestyle or business.

They think, if they don’t do it perfectly, it’s bad.

They want it all but end up getting nothing.

This is called “all-or-nothing” thinking.

I think it’s the number one reason people procrastinate instead of taking action. Instead of stopping unhealthy habits and taking responsibility, they are tricked by this false narrative.

Are you waiting for the “perfect time” to finally get in shape? To eat healthier? To move more often?

What are you putting off until things are “just right.” A dream vacation? Learning a new skill? Launching that new project?

If you are not sure where you stand, read some of these statements below. If you’ve said any of these recently, you’re using “all-or-nothing” thinking:

  • When I make more money
  • When the kids go back to school
  • When I find the right person

And when it comes to health and fitness:

  • When my gym gets an [insert a piece of equipment]
  • When I lose [add an arbitrary number of ] pounds
  • When I get that workout program
  • When a better grocery store comes to town

When are these things going to happen? In the future? How far in the future…tomorrow, next week, next year?

If you are saying “when” you are procrastinating. Procrastination usually turns into never.

You are waiting for the “perfect time,” right? Why?

Avoidance.

Whether you are avoiding criticism, embarrassment or failure, you are keeping yourself distracted and justifying the reason you are doing the work.

And what’s behind the avoidance – pain.

These words keep us from stepping into our fear:

  • Could
  • Would
  • Should

At the same time, when you say, “I would _____ but _____” you are staying stuck. If you’re stuck, you are not going to get whatever it is you desire. Because desire is not enough. Wanting is not sufficient either.

Remember, this way of thinking usually leads you nowhere.

 

What If There Never Will Be A “Perfect Time”?

I won’t go as far as to say there never will be a perfect time. Maybe it will happen. And maybe it will be for you. Hopefully, you are able to take action when it presents itself.

But, I wouldn’t bank on it. Especially if you are still stuck in “blaming” other people and things or “complaining” about your current situation.

You might get that new job that pays your more when you kids go off to college, and your partner is supportive and healthy too. Your gym gets the best equipment…and you buy that amazing program to help you lose 20 pounds…and you are able to eat all organic…and you finally drop those last 20 lbs.

That may happen for you.

But – was there one “perfect time” in this made up scenario? No. There were many moments. How long does it take to have a moment?

If we are going by the medieval idea of a moment – it’s 2.25 seconds. If you practice meditation, you might be familiar with the concept of  “now” being in the present moment. Let’s stick with 2.5 seconds for each moment for now:

  • 34,560 in a day
  • 241,920 in a week
  • 1,051,201 in a month
  • 12,623,040 in a year

I think you get the picture. Our lives are made up of many up of many, many, many moments. Yet, you often times get stuck, waiting for the perfect one.

Let’s go back to the idea of being aware.

Now, that you are mindful of the fact that the perfect time may come and you have more moments than you could ever count. Be grateful, ready when comes your way and don’t wait for them because you may miss them.

“Cause chances are never given…”

“…they tooken like interceptions.” I’ve meditated on this line from Wale’s, Ambition, featuring Rick Ross and Meek Mill, plenty of times. (Yes I did sneak in a hip hop reference to mindfulness, procrastination and taking action.)

What Meek is saying: you should not expect anyone, even life, to give you anything.

As a defensive player, you have to take the Quarterback’s pass intended for the Receiver. That’s the truth of the game of football. Everyone’s aware of this and plays by this rule.

Well, life and more specifically, living a life well lived has rules too.

“Work hard. Live well.”

That’s the motto that I’ve gone by since 2006. I don’t elaborate on it often, but I’ll try to unpack it here.

Note: I don’t believe we have to suffer to be successful. But I think progress is not easy and progress is a way to enjoy our experiences.

I played Defensive Back for almost 15 years. Playing for a Division-I championship football team before stopping in 2003.

How many yards did I approximately run – If I played in every game (I didn’t, but let’s say I did), and every season was 10 games (some seasons were more – 1 was less because I was injured), and the average cornerback runs 1.25 miles per game?

330,000 yards.

Do you think a Quarterback ever intentionally threw a pass my way? Hell no.

I had to practice. Practice defending. Practice catching. Study the QB. Study the Receiver. Run. Most importantly, I had to make it happen when the moment presented itself.

Work. Work hard. Read. Listen. Learn.

Do the real work.

And most of all, don’t wait for the moment to come to you.

This may not be what you want to hear. I get that. Of course. Who wants to work hard, if they think they will not be successful?

Once you are aware that working hard, not suffering, but enjoying the process of hard work always precedes success, then and only then does it become about acting like that successful person.

If you can do that, you are already successful. You don’t have to wait for any moment. That perfect moment will be happening “now” in the present moment.

What’s it going to be?

Complaining, blaming, and procrastinating?

Or realizing the only time you have is now, and the only real choice you have (if you want to reach your goals) is taking action?

 

You Don’t Need to Know “How.” You Just Have to “Do.”

You are probably wondering, “Okay Ambrose, but how?

See where your awareness goes? Complaining.

It’s that simple to lose focus on what brings you closer to the things you want.

Your only job is to do the thing. Right now. In the present moment. It’s not up to you think about what’s coming up next. You will figure it out once you get there.

When you do this…start…and keep going…sooner or later you will rest for a moment, looking back and realizing you did it.

Sound too good to be true?

If you think starting is your problem – you need to take a few steps back. You can’t start because instead of being stuck procrastinating, you have “monkey mind” in the middle.

Start with starting.

For example, if you want to start losing weight. You could start by reading blog posts from a health and fitness coach (thanks for reading this by the way).

If this gets you moving forward – it’s a good start for you.

At the same time, if all you do is read. And read more, hoarding information while not taking one step forward – it’s not a good start.

Then you should stop consuming information.

Instead, you could take the steps instead of the elevator. Park you car in the furthest corner of the parking lot. Or buying a blender to make green smoothies in the morning.

False starts happen when:

  1. No action is taking
  2. The efforts can not be sustained

Starting does not have to be some loud battle cry and charge into battle. Starting may be small. A step instead of a leap. Swaying instead of standing still.

Just get moving, and you have started.

 

What You Resist Persists

Resistance is the only way you can get stronger.

As a strength coach, I use this underlying code to build stronger, more capable athletes. It’s a law that everyone operates under whether they understand the science and mathematics or now.

This is the “work hard” in my motto. Resistance. From gravity to barbells. When you start something, it’s new. It’s not a matter of “if” it’s a matter of “when” you will feel resistance.

When you feel resistance, do not take it as a sign of failure.

Be aware and realize it’s an opportunity for you to grow stronger.

Whether that’s eating more green vegetables. Getting uncomfortable in the free weights section of the gym. Or asking for help on occasion.

You will feel like resisting.

Remember: what you resist persist.

You don’t have to fight the resistance. In fact, you have to drop the resistance by accepting it in the moment. Then you can use it to become more of who you are.

The first few times, it will feel impossible. Stick with it.

Then just do the thing.

 

I’m Here to Help. For Real.

Change is hard. And you know lifestyle changes are among the hardest.

So why not get a jump start?

Spaceships have rockets.

Trains have other engines.

Runners have Pacers.

While rockets and engines sound cooler than “Pacer” (and I’m not a big fan or running), I do like the concept of having someone there to help you.

Pacers help runners who have specific time goals they want to meet. For the average runner, it’s not necessary. But for the committed person, challenging themselves to improve, a pacer is important.

Who is your Pacer?

Who can give you support and hold you accountable?

When you are delaying and being a perfectionist, who can you depend on to put you back on track?

Someone that can remind you that “all-or-nothing” thinking is for losers.

In the beginning, or when things get really tough, you might need someone like this you can depend on. They can push, pull, nudge or remind you of your bigger vision and help you take that next step to get you there.

Just as spaceships leave gravity and don’t need rockets, trains get moving and use momentum, and runners race alone, there come a day you can do this on your own.

But for now…

Take your mark…

Set…

Go…

What to do Next: 2 minutes to stop procrastinating now

Objects in the mirror of the future appear larger than they really are.” – Steve Chandler

Fear drives most procrastination. Our brains come up with false messages about things that have not happened yet. Or remind us of something that occurred in the past. Everyone wants to avoid this feeling.

Be grateful for fear.

All fear is a signal that you are being called to do something. The more scared you are, the more that thing has to be done.

The 3-minute solution.

What’s the thing you want most badly, right now? You have been thinking about this thing, yet putting it off. You know you should start this right away.

You have a bunch in mind if you’re normal.

Overwhelming, right?

What if you only had 3 minutes. Right now, three minutes to act.

Remember: hard work doesn’t mean suffering. Often it involves living thoroughly (well).

That’s your new sutra, saying, or code.

Call it a policy.

As soon as you are done reading this take 3 minutes and do the thing. Right now. Don’t wait.


Want to stop dieting and take action to eat better? Ready to take responsibility and get the body you want?

Most people know what to do.

Yet, almost 69% of Americans are either overweight or obese.

It’s not the information you lack. It’s the support and accountability. It’s the application of knowledge, done consistently, over time that yields lasting change.

That’s why I work personally with MISPIBO Fitness clients to help them feel good, look better, and perform to their fullest potential. I expect and accept challenges.


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If this has changed your mind, and you’re now ready to change your body too – I’m here to help you change your life. This is your moment.

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