How often do we fixed our minds to what we want? From early on, we want to get into this one school, we want to audition for this one role, we want to date this one person, etc. And now as we are older, there are more "ones." We want to get this one job "that's perfect for us." We want to land this one client or one deal. We "have to" get this one thing done.
Our focus isn't narrowing - but our opportunities are. I would argue we are less focused because we are worried about the all or nothing bet we just made. Everything will be GREAT if this one thing happens, otherwise it will completely suck.
Exactly 10 years ago I was training for my first marathon. My goal was to qualify for Boston out of the gate. It was in the realm of possibility for me and boy did I obsess about it. I trained hard for it. I thought of next to nothing else. If my training numbers looked off, I worried I wasn't going to "make it." I wasn't curious about what the training numbers meant (maybe I was dehydrated, I needed to recover, I was starting to get sick, etc.) I instead was looking for an indication if I was going to make it or not. Black or white.
When I ran my first marathon, I kept my race pace for 20 miles, then my calf started to cramp. It wasn't until mile 24 that all possibility of qualifying for Boston was over. There wasn't enough time to make the last 2.6 miles in under what I needed. When I finished the marathon, I was deflated. I had been a runner for barely a year and I ran a sub-4 hour marathon. Because I missed my "one" goal. The 5 months of training and the experience was deemed a waste. That's the cost of chasing performance rather than process, the outcome rather than the journey, and one possibility rather than infinite.
So what can you do about it, when the world is slated toward performance as a gauge of worth? It's called an excellence orientation. But more on that later. In the meantime, where in your life do you have these all or nothing beliefs - what is it costing you? How heavy of a burden are they to achieve?