Wednesday, September 2, 2015

All or Nothing Mentality

I painted my back deck last Friday.

Painting is not one of my favorite things. In fact, it’s about my least favorite thing to do. When I lift my arms above my head, I pass out. And I have a bum wrist. Throw in a heap of perfectionism. Yeah, I don’t paint.

But, for some reason, I can paint a deck. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t have to be perfect. Or, it’s because I can finish it in an hour or two and don’t have to lift my arms. And, I had a motive – I wanted a pretty place to sit and eat breakfast out in the sunshine.

I opened the bucket of paint and rolled a swipe of paint. Uh-oh. The barn red paint was more raspberry sherbet color. Oh, well. It will dry darker. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I finished the deck, but still had to paint the steps and railing. And, decide whether or not to paint the dog house raspberry red.

Saturday morning I painted again. It was a struggle to get going, but I did. I started painting the dog house and thought about my “all or nothing” mentality. Why do I think I have to be able to finish a project in one day? Why is it so hard to get it going again the next day?

I learned about my “all or nothing” mentality earlier this summer when I decided to practice my hammered dulcimer 30 minutes every day. I set my timer every day and played for 30 minutes. I saw it as a challenge to improve, not as a “should do.” But one day I didn’t have 30 minutes of time before a busy day. I only had 20 minutes. My first thought was, “If I can’t play for 30 minutes, then I don’t have time to do it.” All or nothing. Then, I realized how ridiculous that was. I played for 20 minutes and enjoyed it!

Much of my “all or nothing” mentality is my personality. I recently read the INFP’s prayer is “Lord, please help me finish what I sta…” Ha-ha! Yep, that’s me! If I don’t get all of it done right then, there’s a good chance it will never get finished. I also know I learn from whole to part and that is the way I work, too. It’s hard for me to break things down into increments and work consistently.

This is why it was totally conceivable for me to think I could write the second half of my book during a week’s writing retreat. When I only wrote one chapter, I gave myself grace and a high-five.

Becoming aware of when I am in “all or nothing” mentality, making a choice to do a part of it instead of all, and giving myself grace are new steps for me. Steps I will continue to take.

Oh, and I did finish painting. How do you like my raspberry-red deck? Come join me for a glass of iced tea.

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