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Are Your Thoughts Holding You Back From Achieving Your Goals?

How to turn your obstacle thoughts into achievable action steps.

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When you set a new goal, your brain automatically starts thinking about all the reasons why you can’t achieve that goal. This is normal. Your new goal likely involves doing something different and may take you out of your comfort zone. It might feel unfamiliar or scary so your brain is doing its job of trying to protect you. It’s creating obstacle thoughts to stop you from leaving the safety of what it knows. Obstacle thoughts are the thoughts you’re thinking now that are stopping you from producing the results that you want.

Obstacle thoughts can sound like “I don’t know how to do it” or “I’ve never done this before”. They’re the thoughts you’re thinking about your new goal and if you choose to believe these thoughts, they’ll probably stop you from achieving your goal. They may also be holding you back from even starting to work towards your goal. Let’s take weight loss for example, your obstacle thought might be “I can’t lose weight”. If you believe you can’t lose weight, it’s unlikely you’re going to take consistent action steps to do things that will help you to lose weight.

Photo by Morning Brewon Unsplash

Your brain likes to be right so it looks for what you think about and believe. Your brain will start to look for evidence to strengthen the thought why you can’t lose weight, then over time, that thought will become stronger, and more and more believable. It’ll focus on all the things that you didn’t do to lose weight to prove the thought that you can’t lose weight is true. It’s like your brain is working against you and you end up working towards proving yourself to be right and that you can’t lose weight.

The good news is, once you’re aware of your obstacle thoughts, instead of using them against yourself, you can choose to use them to create action steps or strategies to help you achieve your goals. As a Weight Loss Coach, a common obstacle thought my clients have is that it’s hard to lose weight. It sounds so true to them, yet for some people, the weight just falls off when they start a diet. This confirms that this thought cannot be the truth. If a thought that you have isn’t true for everyone, this means it’s not a fact. It’s just a thought or story you currently believe.

Photo by Greg Rosenkeon Unsplash

It’s time to learn how to start being aware of your obstacle thoughts but not believing in them. By following the three steps below, you can practice how to do this and create a simple action plan to achieve your goals. 

Step One
The first step in overcoming your obstacle thoughts is to write them down. Start by writing your smart goal at the top of your page, then list all the obstacle thoughts that pop into your head when you think about achieving that goal.

For example, if your goal is to lose your next 10kg but you’re stuck in a weight loss plateau, one of your obstacle thoughts might be “I don’t know what else to do”.

Step Two
Once you have your obstacle thoughts on paper, you can observe them from an outside perspective. You can start to see how they’re optional and not the truth. The second step is to question your thoughts and come up with ideas to prove them wrong.

For the thought, “I don’t know what else to do”, questioning it helps you to see that it’s not true. There are unlimited changes you could make to your diet and lifestyle to overcome your weight loss plateau.

Step Three
The third step is to choose one of the new ideas from step two and put this action step into practice. Make a plan and put it in your diary. You have to keep taking the action step over and over again until it becomes a habit. Doing this provides your brain with the evidence that you do know what to do. This allows your brain to continue to look for more evidence to prove this new thought is true. It’ll become easier for you to make healthier choices and to add more new healthy habits into your daily routine.


Do you see how you have to do the work on changing your thoughts to get a new result. You have to start practicing and believing your new thoughts so they’ll produce a different outcome. This is part of doing the work to achieve your goals. If you do the work, the win becomes not only achieving your goals but evolving to the next best version of yourself. A person who gets to enjoy the journey of creating the life and body you dream of.

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