Some of us in life are, by our own admission, ‘all or nothing’.  For the most part – we don’t especially get on with moderation.  If we’re doing a thing, we’re balls-out doing it, and if we’re not, then we’re really not.

From observing my own habits and talking to others with similar tendencies, I would go so far as to say that ‘all or nothing’ people should not attempt to live by the 80/20 rule.

80/20 is the rule of thumb for moderation that implies we should stick to doing (or not doing) a thing for 80% of the time whilst allowing ourselves off the hook for the other 20%.

For ‘all or nothing’ people this is waaaay too much!  Dabbling in that 20% means we’ve broken our inner solidarity and now we may as well allow a few more to slip under the radar, and before you know it, it’s looking more like 50/50.

95/5 is often a more realistic rule of thumb because we don’t hang ourselves by having too much leeway.


Aiming for a target 95% of the time means that if for whatever reason, life should throw a curve-ball and we can’t follow through on our intentions, we’ll probably end up scoring 80% anyway.

Fifteen years ago, when I gave up a life of carbs, I knew it would have to be a complete internal reset; I would have to go big until the habit of eating a certain way was firmly ingrained in me, else I’d be carrying my sorry ass home!  Taking up regular exercise was the same – I knew the only way was to get tough with my self and to aim at working out 6 days a week. Most week’s it was six, others four or five.  Had I aimed at four or five, the end result would have been two or three.

Whatever it is we have purposed, us ‘all or nothingers’ know we can’t afford to listen to the ‘all things in moderation’ crowd.  There is always a special occasion, it’s the weekend every weekend and there’s always a reason to celebrate or feel we need to treat ourselves!

It’s more efficient for us to find the resolve to stick to a non-negotiable, than to waste energy constantly readdressing the balance amidst dealing with regret that we fell off the bandwagon again.  Whilst up front it may seem intense to those who find moderation easy, an ‘all or nothing’ tendency knows their habits have to be weighted like this in order to achieve a happy balance.  Developing habits we don’t have to think about makes life so much simpler!

Finally, because this is always the caveat I look for in articles like this (as the saving grace!), habits do eventually reach a tipping point whereby lapses are not permanent.  In time, most will attest to being able to skip ‘just this one’ knowing the habit is strong enough to ensure they get back into the swing of things soon after.  These occasions or seasons are often mindful rather than a momentary lack of will because after all, that’s what balance is all about isn’t it… the personal choice to be able to allow for both.


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