The Second Rule when creating Change. Get out of black & white thinking.


The second most important thing to realize is that if you want to make a change you need to get out of BLACK & WHITE thinking or the “all or nothing mentality.” Many of my clients who have struggled to create change in their life are stuck in this thought process.

It is relevant for many issues, the pupil who knows they cannot get 4As in their A-levels so they lose all motivation, the person who cannot sort out their desk paperwork as it just seems too big a task rather than just focusing on sorting out the top drawer.

And yes I have been known at times to be a skilled procrastinator as well….

But I have taught myself how to get out of that frame of mind (if I choose to that is!)


I see this a lot with people in that they are trying to start way too big!  They have got into black and white thinking.  If we think back to the ‘January Gymmers’ (I just made up that word) they have set themselves an unachievable goal of 5 days a week at the gym as a punishment for overeating for Christmas, and when they miss it for 2 days or miss a week for holidays they will say “well that is that ruined! I may as well just stop completely now.”

This happens classically with weight loss and eating healthily, I try to get my clients to see that everything they do is just lots of tiny decisions, nothing is ever ruined, one scone or one hungover Dominoes is not the end of the world, draw a line under the guilt, let it go and move on.

Maybe this is one time in our lives when we need to live life more in the ‘Grey!’

If I think to any of my very successful weight loss clients this is the mentality I try to copy from them to teach to others:

They keep their expectations realistic, they enjoy eating the way they are eating and things are moving in the right direction overall.  They know too that life must go on, their life cannot stand still while they lose the weight, so yes sometimes they are at weddings and eat a feast, sometimes they end up grabbing something rubbish when there is nothing else but then at their next meal they have the opportunity to do something differently.  They let go of beating themselves up, Forgive themselves, tell themselves well done anyway, drop the guilt and move on.

So how do I get out of Black & White thinking right now?

What if you made changes so small that there was no way you could fail? 

The only way you will ever fail is if you stop trying…

The Process

Ask yourself this essential question for one change: If I already made this change, and had been living this way for a while, and feeling good about it- how would I be as a person?

Exercise example: close eyes and imagine how you would like to feel in the present tense…

Now I am exercising regularly I feel really strong, my muscles feel good, I look better, I have more energy, I enjoy getting out of the house, I love being in my body!  Use your imagination to feel all those good feelings now, build it up as much as possible with the most senses you can as how it would be!

Feel all the feelings that come up into your mind make it as emotional as possible. These are important; it is these that you want to aim towards. It is not the numbers on the weighing scale, or even the behaviour itself you are seeking, but the positive feelings you will get when you do it. This is what will maintain your energy in the long term.  Wouldn’t it therefore be easier to make and maintain that change if you already have those feelings NOW?

Then with ALL this present energy and feeling about this one change

Ask yourself:

What is the smallest next step I could take?

Go with the thing that seems like it just ‘pops into your mind’ (that is an unconscious response) don’t try to analyse it, go with the flow of those good feelings.

For some people, that may mean just eating a decent breakfast, for others it may mean making an appointment, or sorting out their diary, or walking to their friends house instead of driving, it might mean preparing a lunch the night before.   These small changes are so tiny that there is no win or lose but you build energy with them and your brain begins to generalize these little changes that bigger ones become more possible. 

Start small. Tiny. always.

This is an NLP process called the ‘End state energy’ and from it getting the smallest next step.

When you are in your end state energy then things flow from that positive place and your mind will always know where to go next.

Rule Number 2: Don't make goals too fixed.  Just know the direction you want to go. Get into your end state energy then ask yourself what the smallest next step is you need to take?  Do this any time that you feel lost or you need a boost.