How to Overcome Barriers to Change – New Year’s Goals Not Resolutions Series

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So you’ve got your meaningful goal nicely prepared. It is S-M-A-R-T. You are confident your goal is intrinsically motivated and it aligns with your personal values, therefore you can see your goal is something that is important to you and it will make your life better. Your goal is small but helpful – it has the potential to have a significant impact on your life.  You understand the journey of change ahead. You have an action plan! Right, you are ready to contingency plan or focus on your current and perceived barriers to changing.

smallest change

Contingency plan to include in your action plan

Plan ahead for those tough times. Yes, there will likely be tough times and these tough times are part of life, so don’t put off your goal until after X, Y and Z happen otherwise, you will never do it! Barriers to change are a normal part of change. I value barriers to change. They can be annoying and demotivating at the time, but so much can be learned during these times of unrest. If you respect your barriers and manage them, they usually don’t pose an ongoing problem – they make you resourceful, encourage you to up-skill and overall make you a stronger person. Taking the time now to analyse your barriers and any barriers you may think will pop up in the future, will more likely help you to achieve your goal.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” – Barack Obama

toughTypes of barriers – Actual and perceived – ‘BEST’*:

B –Behavioural – What habits and actions do you do every day? Is this behaviour aligned with your goal?  How do you currently plan around the behaviour? Do you have a plan for the intended behaviour?

E – Emotional – What emotional reactions do you display when certain scenarios happen to you? Are these reactions or emotions helpful or unhelpful? Do you need to bring mindfulness to your emotions to help with changing your behaviour?

S – Situational – Are there any medical, cognitive, social, physical, access, monetary, changes in circumstances that have or will affect your goal? Can you add anything into the action plan to help you overcome these situations?

T – Thoughts (Cognitive) – Beliefs, attitudes, expectations and habitual thinking patterns. Are our thoughts really the truth? Challenge them. They are often learned and imposed from external sources ie. societal expectations. Turn automatic neutral or negative thoughts into positive enabling thoughts.

Let’s look at some thinking strategies to help keep you on track:

What are the excuses and justifications you say to yourself before you make the decision? Especially on the days you don’t succeed in carrying out your planned positive activity? And now on the days you do succeed? What do you need to say to yourself to be successful more often? How will you rehearse these words so you can call upon them when you need them?

*Source: Gale, J (2012), A Practical Guide to Health Behaviour Change using the Health Change Approach. HealthChange Australia, Sydney.

“All great changes are preceded by chaos” – Deepak Chopra

(I love this saying…For me, it’s so true!)

Make sure you add your barrier minimising strategies into your action plan. Join me next week when I focus on maintaining motivation  New year goals not resolutions series.


How have you previously responded to barriers? Did the barrier derail you or did you manage to sidestep it? What will you do differently this time? I’d love to hear your story.

Achieve Your Nutrition Goal via this mini-course. 


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