Conditional formatting is a tool in Microsoft Excel used to give a certain value to a cell based on some “condition.” Basically, it’s using a bunch of “if this is true, then do that” statements to give values to cells. Okay, I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but there is definitely a method to me talking about Excel on a lifestyle blog, I promise!
I’ve been a witness time and time again to people using this thought process of conditional formatting and applying it to the way they live their lives. It’s as if we think like computers; only going down a path if a certain condition is met. Here are some examples of this conditional thinking:
- If I study a lot then I will get a 100% on the test. True story: I’ve studied, I’ve prepared and I’ve gotten a 72%.
- If I complete a 4-year college degree (and go into debt) then I’ll get a good-paying job. The YouTubers, Artists, freelancers and Influencers out there are chuckling while collecting their massive PayPal installments.
- If I eat healthy, then I will get abs. I’ve eaten totally healthy, and gained weight because I was over-consuming calories LOL.
- If I go to the gym 6 days per week then I will be fit and strong. Spoiler: going to the gym 6 days per week while working full time and doing life is more difficult than it sounds. When I tried this, I ended up not going at all–go big or go home, right? WRONG.
- If I get a full-time job then I’ll never have to worry about money. We can laugh at this one together.
The absoluteness of these statements is what makes them dangerous. It leads us to having this “all or nothing” mindset that destroys our hopes and dreams. We think that in order to be able to do something, certain conditions need to be met. And worse: either all of the “required” conditions must be met, or we ain’t doing a damned thing.
I’m not sure who taught us to think this way, but I believe it is one of the top reasons why people don’t get to do the things they want or hope to. One interruption or inconvenience and we’re out of the race. This happens to me (and so many other people) a lot with my diet, for example. I’ll want to eat healthier and maybe I’ll do it “successfully” for a few days. Somewhere along the line, though, I’ll eat a Snickers candy bar and next thing I know, I’ve spent the past week in the rabbit hole eating fast food and sweets. I’ll then feel bad and blame my inadequacy.
In this case, I’ve subconsciously told myself “if you eat one ‘bad’ food, then you cannot eat healthy.” Certainly, eating the Snickers bar and moving on back to eating healthy would’ve been the better (and probably more sane) choice, but go big or go home! Time to undo all our progress by doing the opposite of what we want to achieve! Ugh.
Why are we like this? Because, perfectionism. If we cannot be perfect, we cannot be. Instead of taking baby steps and doing what we can with what we have, we tell ourselves to just give up or to not bother with starting.
Instant gratification definitely plays a role in this, as being perfect will get us to our dreams much faster. Going through hardship and turmoil is not what we signed up for, and so when it happens, we’re done. We want it all, and we want it now.
But, what if I told you that life isn’t as black and white as we force it to be?
What, then? What if we said to hell with conditional formatting? Microsoft and all of its applications are the worst anyway, right? Yep, I had to bring my horrible Excel reference back into the mix.
But, really. Doing lots of small things can yield big results. Even when you do things half-ass you’re much closer to the desired result than if you did nothing. I’m writing this post at 5am over the span of a few days because I decided to wake up early and dedicate small chunks of time to this blog instead of trying to find huge blocks of hours at a time to write (which is virtually impossible these days).
And it’s working! Had I tried to wait for the “perfect amount of time” to complete this post in one setting, I’d never have gotten started at all. BABY STEPS! Life is not conditional. Life is an experiment. In fact, we all have probably witnessed life doing whatever the hell it wants despite our intervention.
Remember that time when you decided: “okay, this is it! I’m going to stay on a routine and get to work on time because I’ve meal prepped, laid my clothes out, and did all my preparations to leave the house at a reasonable time for me not to need to rush and have road rage while driving to the office,” and then you stared at the ceiling all night from insomnia?
“Life is not conditional. Life is an experiment.”
Can’t make it to the gym 6 days a week? What about an equally (if not more) effective workout in your living room 3-4 times a week. Even 2 times a week. Two is better than zero! Because life is an experiment, you get to try different things and see what works for you and what does not.
A little patience goes a long way. Life is short, but it is also long. Want to start a business and cannot find the time to work on your passion? Stop trying to spend 5 hours each night on it and cut it down to 1-2 hours each day. And, try waking up earlier in the morning if that would work too.
“Life is short, but it is also long.”
The solution isn’t to quit. The solution is to adapt. To adapt to changing conditions. Because conditions can and will change.
And remember, there is no rule book. Just because you didn’t have the opportunity or chose not to pursue a post-graduate degree, does not mean you’re doomed for life and can never get a job or having a rewarding career. Just because you ate like a pig yesterday does not mean you’re too far gone to eat healthy today.
Instead of telling yourself “go big or go home,” how about “go big or go smaller if need be?”
Of course, we want to be able to do it big and do it well, but we need to be willing and able to tone it down if we cannot give it our all. The next time you find yourself struggling with the “all or nothing” mindset, tell yourself that it’s okay to start small. It’s okay to chip away little bits at a time. It’s okay to experiment and even fail and try something different. That’s what life is all about. Trial and error, friend!
What have you been struggling with getting accomplished?
Do you have a “go big or go home” or an “all or nothing” mindset?
What experimenting can you do in your life to find what works better for you?
Drop me a line to discuss!