the all or nothing attitude

July 19th, 2007

The “All or Nothing” attitude

When I think about impediments to my debt reduction progress, and financial progress in general, one of the biggest ones has to be my own “all or nothing” attitude. I tend to just see the big picture and set goals based on that, and when I can’t meet a goal for one reason or another, my instinct is to completely abandon that effort and start over “later”. But that isn’t always (or almost ever) necessary if I could just see the trees for the forest.

For example, I want our mini-emergency fund to be $1000 in our savings account. Well, I was thinking that there would be enough left over from my June compensation check to deposit $350 in our savings account and bring the balance to $1000. But now with the mini car setback, and overages in a few other categories on the budget, I am pretty sure that I won’t have that much left over.  But there will (most likely) be *some* left over and I need to remember that and use it instead of being discouraged that it isn’t as much as I had thought.

My brain gets all cranky and instead of thinking about depositing $150 or $200 or whatever it is we end up with as a surplus, and bringing our mini-emergency fund up to $800 (or more) this month, I start feeling discouraged and automatically think I won’t be making any deposit at all. I don’t even do this consciously. It is almost like if I can’t meet a goal I set for myself I abandon the idea altogether.

This has got to stop.

Everything *isn’t* all or nothing. There are compromises and mediums and midpoints as long as you know where to look. This all or nothing attitude is why it took me so long to really start examining our debt and working towards ways to diminish it a little at a time. It was all just big and overwhelming and it was easier to coast along paying minimums and as long as I wasn’t creating new debt (ie, using the credit card), I really didn’t address anything else directly. In fact, the only debt I ever really thought much about was the credit card if I thought about debt at all. I didn’t even give a single thought to our student loan or car loan debt other than paying the minimum every month until very recently. At least I am starting to realize it. Six months ago I don’t think I even knew that I do this “all or nothing” thing to myself.

Brain, you are tricky. But I am on to you. Watch out.

~J

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2 Responses to “The “All or Nothing” attitude”

  1. I work on this every single day. I am so much like that…with everything (money, weight loss, work, debt reduction, etc). It’s a fight, but I’ve been doing better for…oh, the last 6-8 months or so.

    It doesn’t all have to be done right now (whatever “it” is), and it’s okay to do things partially. In fact, in most cases, it’s better to do it partially than not at all. :)

    Good luck with that!

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