The reason we don't move forward on our health goals

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

In my previous blog I talked about key ingredients to consider when setting goals so you can be sure you create goals you can achieve (read it here if you missed it). It is beginning of your journey, so your motivation is high, your willpower is the driving force, and your enthusiasm is contagious. This is a great start, but at some point, obstacles will start getting in the way on your path. This is normal and to be expected. So rather than trying to fight against them, the better way is to be prepared.

Types of barriers

As with any journey, there will always be obstacles we need to overcome. Quite often we think about them as the evil rather than something which happens naturally. Think about it this way: if there were no obstacles and you had all figured out, wouldn’t you achieve your goals already? So, let’s read on to see what type of barriers you can encounter on your path to success. The sooner you can recognise what type of a barrier you are dealing with, the sooner you can come up with a plan to overcome it.

There are four types of barriers which you may encounter: behavioural, situational, cognitive and emotional. Let’s jump into each one of them to look at them a bit closer.

Behavioural barriers

Behavioural barriers are the biggest obstacles you will encounter during your journey. Behavioural barriers are those habits and actions you have been taking to date. And you can most likely see the outcome of this in your life now. Some of the habits you have, may not be supporting your current state. They may not help you to carry on with your new goals, they may be preventing you from accomplishing your goals or even hold you back. Are you trying to quit smoking but every time you have a drink, you smoke? Can you see how one behaviour can conflict with your new goal? The first step is to recognise what unsupportive behaviours you have and how they trigger you.

Sorry to say, but behavioural barriers are hard to change. This is because we are creatures of habits and we don’t like to change! We all want to change, but we just don’t like the whole process of changing.

But by saying that, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible to overcome behavioural barriers. Can you think about a way to stop smoking when you drink? Because to overcome behavioural barrier, you need to replace unsupportive habit into one, which supports your new goal.

Situational barriers

The next category of barriers you can encounter is situational barriers. As the name suggests, those are barriers related to the situations and environments you may find yourself in. Those types of barriers are usually outside of your control. But this should not mean you cannot overcome them.

As with anything, you still have some level of control which you can use even if you find yourself in a tricky situation. Let’s say you really want to take up running again, but it seems like you always work late, and the moment you enter home your attention is taken by your kids, dog, family chores and the first thing you forget is that you planned to go for a run after work. You may not have any control over your family commitments or if your phone rings the moment you put your foot in the door. However, you can design the environment around you to prompt you to go for a run. So, think what can you change? How about putting your running shoes next to the door so when you get home, this is the first thing you see?

Overcoming situation barriers may seem hard at first. But all it means is that you may need to think outside the box a little. Coming up with some solutions to tweak your environment to find the time or energy to move forward with your goals, is the optimum way to set yourself for a success.

Cognitive barriers

Another type of barriers you will face are cognitive barriers. Those types of barriers are linked to the way you perceive the world, the way you think, your belief and value systems and the way you talk to yourself.

Essentially anything you do is linked to your cognitions. Your cognitions aka thoughts can make you run the marathon, or they can make you sit on the couch and binge watch. They can easily support your motivation and help you move forward, or they can stop you at the door. Can you see how powerful they are?

Cognitive barriers work in a similar way to behavioural barriers and that is why they may be hard to change. But because they are harder to overcome, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

A number of techniques can be used to overcome cognitive barriers. However, the ultimate way is to replace the negative, unsupportive cognition, with a new positive one. In some instances, it may take you a little more time to do, but the more unsupportive cognitions you are able to replace the quicker you improve your thinking.

Emotional barriers

The final category of barriers is emotional barriers. Those types of barriers, as the cognitive barriers, are intangible. It means those are harder to catch because they occur automatically. Often, we cannot recognise that we are being driven by emotions. Something made you angry and now, you are feeling frustrated, so you can’t possibly put up with your kids screaming. Your automatic reaction is to yell at them. You most likely know this is not a way to be a good parent, and that’s your goal for this year.

Your emotional state has a big impact on the way you think and act. Your emotions aka feelings can elevate your mood or can depress it. Research show that humans use the same emotions over and over and most of the emotions we use are negative emotions! It is easier for us to tap to our negative emotions that our positive ones.

Putting yourself in a positive frame of mind is one way to overcome emotional barriers. But recognising that your emotions link to your behaviour, can change everything. A good way to start is to incorporate more positive emotions into your array of emotions you use every day. So, your positive emotions can start leading your behaviour.

How to move pass your barriers

No matter the type of barrier you face, there are a few common elements in overcoming them.

First of all, recognise what type of a barrier you encounter. You can only come up wit a plan if you know what you are dealing with.

Second, keep a journal and write down each time you catch yourself when you use this barrier as an excuse not to act on your goals. This will help you to determinate the frequency of occurrence of your barriers and what triggers them so you can start seeing some patterns.

And finally, for each barrier create a plan of action, so next time you come up against a barrier you identified, you will have an action plan to overcome it.


Setting up goals and moving forward with them is exciting! It is said that starting is the hardest part, but often encountering barriers on our journey to success can make us feel like we want to give up.

You don’t need to do it anymore. Aren’t you tired of setting goals and always coming up against the same excuses? I know how it feels and I want you to know that you can change it.

Take a moment and see what’s on your path. Are you always stopped because your old habit doesn’t support your goals? Is your current environment set up in a way which distracts you from taking action? How is your emotional state? Are you using positive emotions to drive your behaviour?

Recognise the excuse for what it is and create a powerful action plan to overcome it. And next time you come face to face with it, you can climb over it with ease.

So, tell me which barrier: behavioural, situational, cognitive or emotional is staying on your way?

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Having problems with overcoming your barriers? Go on: to find out more about Anna Doktor Wellness Coaching and how I can help you to create the life you always wanted. Alternatively send me an email on or call to have a chat to see how we can work together tel: 0498016440.

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