All or Nothing is Unsustainable


Tom Corley boats - crop

All or nothing shows up once a year in the form of New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Stop drinking alcohol.
  • Stop eating junk food.
  • Stop watching TV.
  • Start exercising every day for an hour.
  • Start reading to learn every day for an hour.
  • Get up at 5am every day.

Invariably, this all or nothing approach, leads to failure, which is soon followed by self-hate, as you berate yourself for being weak and undisciplined.

The correct, sustainable approach, with any new habit, is to baby step your way into it. Small, baby steps that incrementally improve your life in some way, is the right approach.

The right approach:

  • Limit my alcohol consumption to one drink during the workweek (or three drinks during weekends).
  • Limit my consumption of junk food to 300 calories a day.
  • Limit TV consumption to one hour a day. 
  • Start exercising every day for fifteen minutes.
  • Start reading to learn every day for fifteen minutes.
  • Get up 30 minutes earlier.

Those small, baby steps build the neural infrastructure that, over time, take root, eventually becoming lasting, permanent habits.

Your brain will not fight you if the change is small. This is because small conscious changes do not deplete your stores of willpower energy (readily available glucose – the fuel most often used by the body when engaged in any willpower-required activity).

Because small changes utilize very little willpower energy, the brain will not go to war with you and your new habits. This allows you to engage in the habit every day. And every day that you engage in the habit, the habit synapse grows stronger and stronger.

After some time (thirty days or more), that new habit synapse will be strong enough to grab the attention of the basal ganglia, which will eventually designate it as a habit. One this happens, you can then amp up your habit. For example, you can increase your aerobic exercise from fifteen minutes to thirty minutes without the brain engaging in civil war. 

Be Sociable, Share!
Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
Email Tom
| Download Media Kit

Speak Your Mind