hiker standing on top of a rock looking at the view at sunset

2-Minute Mindset Makeover: How To Course Correct After A Slip Up

If building healthy habits were easy, everyone would look like Barbie and Ken. Unfortunately, as you’ve probably noticed, it’s not that easy.

There are many reasons people fall short when it comes to achieving a fitness, nutrition, or health goal. However, one reason that I hear again and again, is that people struggle to get back on track after making a mistake. 

Giving up on a goal after making a small mistake is an overreaction due to an error in mindset.

That’s why I’ve made you the free 2-Minute Mindset Makeover that you can work through after having a slip-up. This mindset exercise can help you slow down and put things into perspective so that you can bounce back from a mistake and go on to achieve your goals!

I would recommend downloading the 2-Minute Mindset Makeover from the Free Resource Library now, so you can follow-along as we go.

Preview of the 2-Minute Mindset Makeover found in the Free Resource Library.
Preview of the 2-Minute Mindset Makeover found in the Free Resource Library.

Mindset Case Study: Meet Sharon

Let’s examine what this error in mindset might look like using a case study.

Sharon is a working mother of two in her early 40’s. She has a goal of shedding a few pounds so that she looks and feels more healthy and confident. She has chosen to improve her diet in order to reach this goal. 

Sharon has set a short-term goal to eat healthy all week long. She typically eats breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 snacks per day for a total of 35 meals per week.

Monday and Tuesday go great and Sharon’s really proud of herself, all 10 meals were healthy! But on Wednesday morning her boss brings donuts to the weekly meeting. 

She tries hard to resist, but the temptation of that delicious donut is just too strong… We’ve all been there.

assorted glazed and sprinkled donuts

The next thing Sharon knows, she’s eaten the donut and is beating herself up about it. She tells herself she’ll never be able to reach her goals, and decides to just give up.

She says, I might as well eat whatever I want now. So she grabs a burger at the cafe at work instead of eating the salad she packed for lunch, and grabs a pizza for dinner on the way home.

Have you ever had a slip-up like Sharon and then just completely given up on your goals?

If so, you aren’t alone. But why do we do this, and how can we stop so that we can achieve our goals?

Introducing The All-Or-None Mindset

What we saw in Sharon’s case, is what is often called the “all-or-none mindset”. It is especially common among perfectionists.

The all-or-none mindset is summed up well in the following quote:

"The problem is not slipping up; the problem is thinking that if you cannot do something perfectly, then you shouldn’t do it at all." ~ James Clear #AtomicHabits Click To Tweet

The all-or-none mindset is a subset of the “Fixed Mindset” described by Psychologist Dr. Dweck in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”.

The Problem With The All-Or-None Mindset

Take Sharon’s goal of eating healthy all week long. If she eats 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, that’s 35 chances to eat healthy throughout the week. 

Does the one unhealthy snack she ate mean that the 10 healthy meals she ate earlier in the week don’t count for anything? 

Should one unhealthy snack mean that the 24 meals/snacks that are left in the week won’t do her any good, even if they are healthy?

The obvious answer to both of these questions is NO. 

salad, veggies, vegetables, healthy eating

Every little bit matters when it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition goals. 

If Sharon was eating 35 UN-healthy meals a week, eating 10 healthy meals (as she did on Monday and Tuesday) is a huge improvement. 

And if she would have been able to get back on track after her slip-up, she still could have eaten 34 healthy meals. But instead, she panicked, and quit her goal.

The all-or-none mindset is illogical. It is an emotional overreaction, and flawed way of thinking based on perfectionism. This mindset is a recipe for failure when it comes to health and fitness goals.

Trade the All-Or-None Mindset For The Growth Mindset To Achieve Your Goals

People with the growth mindset understand that mistakes are not the end of the world. In fact, they often don’t feel that mistakes are failures at all. Instead, people with the growth mindset see mistakes as learning opportunities.

Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, is perhaps the ultimate example of the growth mindset, as is illustrated by the following quote:

Growth mindset. I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work. Thomas Edison quote. Light bulb.

By treating mistakes as learning opportunities, as Thomas Edison does here, quitting is not even considered, because perfection is not required

The growth mindset gives you permission to make mistakes – so long as you learn from them. #ProgressNotPerfection #GrowthMindset Click To Tweet
all-or-none mindset (aka all or none thinking) versus Growth mindset - a side by side comparison.

The 2-Minute Mindset Exercise To Overcome Slip-ups And Avoid Quitting When Things Get Tough

When you have a slip-up on the path to your goal, walk yourself through the following process:

Step 1 – Don’t Panic

Remind yourself that mistakes are only natural and that you don’t have to be perfect to make progress. If you’re into mantras, maybe recite “progress, not perfection” to yourself a few times.

Step 2 – Put It In Perspective

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being super minor, and 10 being the end of the world, how bad was your mistake? Look at the big picture. Is it something you can come back from? Sharon’s mistake certainly was.

Step 3 – Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

Beating yourself up when you slip-up doesn’t get you any closer to achieving your goals. In fact, it makes you more likely to quit.

Step 4 – Reflect On Past Successes

Slow down and take a moment to reflect on your past successes (like Sharon’s 10 healthy meals earlier in the week). One mistake isn’t worth throwing away all the hard work you’ve already done.

Step 5 – Learn From Your Mistakes

Once you’re over the emotion of the mistake, ask yourself what went wrong. Learn from this mistake and form a plan as to how to prevent it from happening again in the future. 


Going through this 5-step mental process only takes a few minutes and can help you stick to your goals and avoid quitting, even after mistakes are made.

Don’t forget to download your copy of the 2-Minute Mindset Makeover from the Free Resource Library! Keep it somewhere accessible (like stored on your phone, or printed out at home etc.) so you can have it on hand when you need it most!

If you liked this, make sure to check out my next post, which lays out an easy-to-follow 3-step process to troubleshoot any obstacles that come up as you work towards your health and fitness goals!

Your Turn!

Have you ever quit a goal after making a small mistake?

Can you think of any situations in the past where you have had the all-or-none mindset?

What ways have you found to get back on track after having a slip-up on the way to achieving your goal?

Share the knowledge!

Author: clarissa.cabbage

Clarissa is a teacher, a coach, and an avid adventurer! Armed with a master's degree in Exercise and Wellness, she is on a mission to teach people how to build healthier habits that support the adventurous lifestyle of their dreams. There is nothing Clarissa is more passionate about than helping people get active and live their lives to the fullest!

53 Replies to “2-Minute Mindset Makeover: How To Course Correct After A Slip Up

  1. During the peak of lockdown I tried my best to be healthy and maintained it for a few weeks before falling off track again… the quote you posted from Edison really hit as I do believe failing is a step closer to success! I’ll try the 5 steps next time I have a slip up

  2. Great post. I am currently on a healthy eating and exercise change to my life. Today was a really hard day for my mental health and I ordered a takeaway and ate the ice cream. Its just one day, I will be back on it tomorrow and wont beat myself up about it. One day wont undo the hard work I have been putting in for the last 4 weeks. x

    1. Exactly Angela, great job! Ice cream has always been my kryptonite. I have a sort of a mantra I like to say, it’s “never miss twice”. Got to get right back on the horse if you have a little slip up. Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. This is a really great post with an important message. I will hold my hand up and say I’ve been guilty of giving up on things in the past after a few ‘blips’. But I’ve certainly come to realise that you need to keep going with your goals and not give up after a small setback. I’ve noticed a shift in my mindset over the last few years.

    1. Thank you Jaclyn! I think most people have been guilty of this at one time or another. It’s kind of crazy how much mindset pays a role in this. Mine has changed a ton in the last 5 years or so as well. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  4. Great post! Nowadays there’s so much pressure to be perfect, it can be very defeating to make a mistake – but it’s so natural and human to do so 🙂 I think working on self-acceptance while attempting any major goal (fitness or otherwise!) is really important.

    Yaya – yayatales.com

    1. I absolutely agree Yaya – self acceptance is so important! As it’s setting realistic expectations for ourselves. Being absolutely perfect is not realistic! Great point about this applying to any type of goal. ? Thanks so much for taking the time to add to the conversation!

    1. It can definitely be tough Kait, I agree! Mindset is something that must be built over time with lots of purposeful effort. But when your mind is in the right place, it is so much easier to accomplish things! Thanks for reading and I’m glad to hear you found the tips to be helpful!

  5. I’ve definitely had such a huge problem with the “all or nothing” mentality ! My whole life, I’ve had that mentality and it’s set me back in many areas such as health, I wish I’d read this when I was younger and needed a different approach!
    Great post !

    1. I am so happy to hear you found this so helpful Cherbelle! I’ll be the first to admit that I had the all-or-none mindset for most of my life. I’ve always been a perfectionist (and am still working on that). But my friends and family could tell you that I was always my own worst critic. When I achieved things, I never gave myself credit, because I just expected those things of myself. And when I failed, oh boy, watch out – I was inconsolable and would beat myself up about it endlessly. But now that I can understand this Mindset and recognize it in myself, things have gotten so much better! I hope this helps you in your goals going forward. Thanks for reading! ♥️

  6. This advice to not giving up after making mistakes works not only for health and fitness goals, but also for business goals. Many people have the all-or-nothing-mindset. I think, you can learn form your mistakes and they are useful for making progress. Thank you for this excellent post.

  7. I feel the urge to snack often, but I have to be mindful about it. It is interesting to learn about the all-or-none mindset. I agree with you. One cheat meal doesn’t ruin everything. It is if all meals become cheat meals. Thanks for sharing this info!

    Nancy ✨ exquisitely.me

  8. Thanks for reading Nancy! I’m a big time snacker too. Especially when bored (and there’s a lot of that going around this year!). I’ve been trying very hard during this time to keep lots of healthy snack options (and very few unhealthy options) stocked in my kitchen. That way when the moment of temptation comes at least I’ll choose something healthy to munch on.

  9. Great post Clarissa! I know some people who have perfect or nothing mindset and honestly it’s just not realistic.

    Side note: if we looked like barbie we wouldnt be able to stand up. Lol :-p

  10. In psychology, ambivalence is quite a good thing. You start questioning your actions and learning from your past experiences, including eating the donut. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Great article Clarissa!

    I also saw a transition of my mindset to the growth mindset. You always need to remind yourself about that, but in the end, you get more things done and feel much better!

  12. Great advice in avoiding the all-or-none mindset. It’s so true. You can easily slip into the through process that if you slip up for even a day you’ve failed. That’s simply not true. It’s ok to slip up now and then. Cut yourself some slack. That way your efforts won’t seem so rigid, and you’re less likely to get frustrated.

    1. Anthony, you’re so right, it can be very easy to slip into that all-or-none mindset if we aren’t paying attention. Especially if we are perfectionists by nature. Being aware of our mindset is the first step! Thanks for taking the time to read.

  13. I am Sharon LOL
    This helped me so much. Thank you for putting this into perspective. I had not looked at it this way before, I would count a slip up as a “cheat day” but those quickly turned into cheat weeks and a mudslide into unhealthy eating. The way you outline is far more logical. Thank you.

    1. I’m glad you found this so helpful Giulia! There’s no shame in being Sharon – I’ll be the first to admit that I had this mindset for most of my life!

      Research by Carol Dweck, the psychologist that coined the terms “fixed” and “growth” mindset, found that simply being aware of your mindset is the first step to changing it. So you’re on your way, work through these 5-steps when you need a reminder! ?

    1. I’m glad you found it helpful Sunshine! Learning from our mistakes is super important to prevent frustration and future slip-ups. I like to make a habit of doing this weekly! Stay tuned for the next post, I’ll be writing about my process for doing that. ? Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and offer your thoughts!

  14. I love this post!!! I’ve been an all-or-nothing person in the past. It’s been tough to get past that. It’s so easy to use the “Oh, I’ll just do better tomorrow” excuse even though it never seems to work out that way.
    This is super helpful. I love the scale of 1-10. Such an easy way to realize it’s not as bad as you first think it is.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. You’re welcome Kaci, I’m glad you found it so helpful!

      I love the scale of 1-10 as well. It can be so easy to make a mountain out of a molehill and beat yourself up for things that really aren’t that big of a deal. I use that scale often to bring things back into perspective.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and contribute to the conversation! ?

    1. That’s great Lisa! And I definitely agree that understanding the trigger for why you slipped up is very important. I’m actually writing a post about that right now. ? Thanks so much for reading!

    1. That’s very true Neecee! If we want to establish a new healthy habit, it takes a lot of conscious effort and the right mindset to make it happen. Thanks for taking the time to read!

  15. Great article. My biggest takeaway is ‘When I am not seeking perfection then a slip up is not a failure’. I just need to continue because the goal is growth not perfection. Great reminder for a perfectionist.

    1. Yes, you’ve got it Amanda! The growth mindset gives you permission to make mistakes because mistakes are nothing more than an opportunity to learn and grow. But perfectionism can paralyze us for fear of making mistakes. It can cause us to quit our goals rather than continue and possibly make a mistake. In this way perfectionism can prevent us from achieving much of anything. Thank you for reading!

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