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Overcoming Obstacles to Reaching your Goals


As part of our series on using ABA strategies to reach goals, I wanted to acknowledge that most of us experience obstacles or setbacks in the progress towards our goals, whether they are short term or long term.

Today we’ll discuss different obstacles and how to overcome them.


1. You can’t motivate yourself to get started on the goal.

Often when we set large goals for ourselves, we feel overwhelmed and can’t even get started. When this happens, change your goal a little bit. Identify a small action that you can take towards that goal. If you wanted to go to the gym, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it, maybe change your goal to just packing up your gym bag. If your gym bag is already packed, when it is one less thing between you and accomplishing that goal. Once you’re consistently taking small actions that are related to your goal, you can start gradually building that up.


2. You always forget to work on your goal.

This happens to all of us. When we’re trying to get into a new habit, it can be difficult to remember to take actions that are necessary to meeting goals. I find writing reminders or notes helpful. If your goal requires you to bring something with you when you leave the house, for example if you need to bring your gym bag so you can hit a yoga class after work, you can leave a post it on your door to keep you from forgetting.


3. You just can’t find the time to do it.

Right now, I’m working on a large project for work, but was finding myself always getting caught up on other tasks and never making time to complete this project. To address this, I decided to block off Friday mornings from now until the due date to give myself time to work on this. Since it is written in my calendar, I’ll be sure not to schedule other things at the time I should be working on this.


4. Other people or activities are distracting you from accomplishing your goal

Maybe you have kids or a spouse who are interrupting you when you want to work on your goal. You can address this in two ways:

  • Get them to jump on board and participate in your goal with you. If you wanted to spend some time each day reading, you could have your child pick out a book and spend the same amount of time reading. This will allow the two of you to reinforce one another for reaching this goal and will help cut down on distractions.

  • Complete your activity in a place that doesn’t have distractions. Perhaps you want to get a certain amount of work done in your home office but people keep distracting you- you can put a stop sign on the door during times they should stay away, and a green light when they can come in. This will let them know that there are times when it is fine to distract you, and times when they need to leave you alone.

5. You’re making some progress on your goal, but can’t quite reach the criterion you wanted.

We saw this with Brittany during the first week of working on our goal. She identified that she had too busy of a schedule to meet her goal. The following week she was more careful with scheduling, so she made sure to leave time to work on her goals- you can do the same. Time blocking can be extremely helpful and keep you from getting distracted with other activities.

Perhaps you set a goal that was a little too lofty, you may want to take a step back and set an easier goal to reach. Here are the steps to choosing an appropriate criterion

  • Collect data on how much you currently engage in the action required in your goal

  • Set a goal criterion for just a little bit above how you are currently functioning

  • Once you meet this goal for a week or two, gradually increase the goal in small increments until you are at your end goal

Are you encountering any other obstacles related to reaching your goals? If so, leave a comment or send us a message and we would love to help you troubleshoot!


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