absolutes

Here is a thing I am working on: dispensing with absolutes.

I tend to file my efforts in one of two folders: Absolute Successes and Absolute Failures. It's not a productive day unless I accomplish everything on my to-do list. It's not a workout unless I am dripping with sweat and exhausted. The day wasn't healthy unless it was totally free of refined sugar, or caffeine, or whatever my nutritional scapegoat du jour is.

This is great for keeping things simple, but not so great for actual achievement and growth. Because in my case anyway, the absolute system undermines the bigger picture by poking little holes in it. When I stumble in one arena, it's all too enticing to give up in others. Write off the day. Let the negative self-talk start. Absolutes are an excuse to flagellate myself and reconfirm all my worst suspicions about how terrible I really am, so why bother at all?

Absolutes are difficult habit to quit, but I'm experimenting with solutions. Rather than burn myself out scrambling after that 100%, I force myself to stop at, say, 85%. Then at the end of the day when I reflect on what I've accomplished, rather than berate myself for the missing 15%, I congratulate myself on the 85%. I'm learning to be okay with Bs.

And yeah, I know this sort of self-coddling makes overachievers and perfectionists throw up a little bit, in their mouths. But when you're coming from a place of total stagnancy and zero achievement, the small steps don't feel so small.