When you are not making progress in your goal(s), it is good to reflect on what is happening. In most cases, lack of goal progress is only temporary and situational: the circumstances in the past week(s) probably were different from what you had anticipated on. Maybe you got the flu/a cold, maybe you were busy at work, maybe your family needed special care… These are no things to worry about, and they will probably not last for a very long time. They will not prevent you from reaching your goal, eventually.
However, when you feel your lack of goal progress is not so temporary, it might be good to revise and adjust your goals. Pursuing unrealistic or even impossible goals is not only frustrating, but even influences our mood, self-esteem and self-efficacy in the long term. Our brain stores all negative experiences with this goal and creates a ‘’negative network’’ in our brain. This ‘’negative network’’ makes us feel negative about this goal and behaviour, and harms our self-efficacy and mood. As a consequence we might even feel resistance towards this goal.
Of course, that is not helpful in any way!
In order to change behaviour effectively, we have to create ‘’positive experiences’’ with the new behaviour. Our brain needs to develop a ‘’positive network’’ about the new behaviour. A network that makes us feel good about ourselves, and influences our mood and self-esteem positively.
That is why it is better to achieve smaller and more realistic goals, than to keep trying (and fail) to achieve bigger, unrealistic goals.
If you think you might benefit from goal adjustment: take some time to reformulate your goal. Usually this does not mean that you will completely have to leave the goal…., it is just a matter of taking a step back. For instance: when your goal was to check your blood sugar with every meal, but you find yourself ‘failing’ every day, it is much better to just pick one meal that you would like to focus on. Pick the most realistic one. So, if you know that checking your blood sugar before breakfast is easier to achieve than during lunch at work, start with the goal to check your blood sugar every morning at breakfast. That is an important and helpful first step in optimizing your blood sugar!
When you realize that you have been able to achieve this goal for some time, congratulate yourself! Your brain has started to create a ‘’positive network’’ on this behaviour. That will help you in taking the next step.
Successful behaviour change is also about being happy with every small change that you are able to realize, and not putting yourself down for all the things you have not achieved yet.