Why “All or Nothing” Approach Doesn’t Work


Make the most of the best and the least of the worst – Robert Louis Stevenson 

About 2 years ago,  my calendar was a complicated maze where I packed every nook and cranny really tight even scheduling dinner down to the minutes. Some things on the calendar were necessary, consistent routines, but others were goals that I had set for myself. I had decided that I was going to try a new exercise routine, learn meditation, finish a 21 day course about manifesting, work on my novel, be an officer of a social club, build a business, and say yes to as many invites as possible, all at the same time.

6 months later , the inevitable happened. I was so exhausted, that I cleared my calendar and stopped working on any of my original pursuits. I had burnt out yet again. I had done this a year before, promising myself that I would not come back to this place again. Yet, here I was.

Everything in life is to teach a lesson and this is a lesson that I wanted to learn. This crash and burn pattern were not serving me and it was time to be open to what life was showing me.

I started to look at my life and thought about other times when I put myself in a similar position. I realized that I had an “all or nothing “ attitude:  If I  couldn’t do it all, then I didn’t want to do anything at all.  Attempting to do it all led me to unfinished goals and unexpressed desires.

The “all or nothing” mindset had become a trap and an exhausting pattern. At the root of it was the belief that that I was not good enough unless I was doing a million things, which would lead me to burn out and still feel like I wasn’t good enough. The reality of if is that I literally can’t be doing nothing as long as I am breathing and I cannot possibly do it all, so I could be a whole lot gentler with myself.

Since that point, I have spent lots of time giving myself space to find what I really love doing. I have also begun taking things in smaller, yet more consistent steps. I am learning to say no and set healthy boundaries. Most importantly, it has been a journey of continually affirming that I am enough all of the time.

Why “All or Nothing” Approach Doesn’t Work

If you find yourself experiencing the “all or nothing” pattern, here are 5 things to remember:

Take a deep breath

You are always doing something. When the thought of not enough comes in, take a breath. Right now millions of cells in your body are working together and creating the symphony that is called life which is definitely more than nothing. It’s ok for you to rest and not do a million things at once.

Choose a small, tiny step

Do what you can to make progress on your desire with the time that you have whether it be 1 minute or 10 minutes. Remind yourself that every single step counts. When I started back working on my novel, I started with ten minutes of writing.


Do that small tiny step with all the joy and energy that you can.


This is the most important part. Before those negative thoughts like “that wasn’t enough” or “ you could do more” begin to percolate,  celebrate and congratulate yourself. Let your self-full live and embody that moment before moving on to something else. My favourite celebrations of choice are dancing and taking a walk.

It’s ok to say no and not feel guilty. It’s ok to say no even to good things. When I started back working on my novel, I decided that I was going to wait to learn about meditation. I also said yes to far fewer invitations to keep my calendar clear.

You deserve space in your schedule. You deserve space to do those things that make your heart soar. Most of all you deserve to know that you are enough every single minute of the day.

May we continue to shine and embody our most brilliant selves as we let go of those things that no longer serve us.

By Kandice Cole, who writes over at Vulnerability is Sexy and just finished her latest e-guide, “Everyday Experiences, Extraordinary Lessons.”

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