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5 Thoughts that are secretly destroying your goal progress - featured image
By Kalen Bruce

5 Thoughts that are secretly destroying your goal progress

Our life isn’t as logical as we like to think.

You may plan your goals perfectly, but when the time comes for action, it doesn’t work out.Life isn’t as logical as we like to think

That happens to all of us, because our emotions affect our decisions.

We don’t think about that when we set goals.

A 2014 study shows how our emotions affect our logical decisions.

So how do you deal with that?

You have to make these decisions and set your goals when you’re in a logical state, and then push through when you’re thinking emotionally.

Easier said than done.

Don’t worry, I’ve summed up five of the most common emotional thoughts that will destroy your goal progress.

Once you acknowledge that these thoughts exist, you can fight them off.

1. I messed up, so I might as well “go all out”

Here’s the scenario: You’re on a strict diet that includes absolutely zero grains.

While you’re eating out, you taste something delicious and realize the onions in your salad are breaded. 

You’ve messed up.

You’ve blown your diet. 

So then you decide that you might as well go all out and order a second entrée.

Before long, you’ve eaten everything, ever.

Because of a breaded onion.

We all mess up.

If you mess up, that’s fine, it was an accident.

Get back to your goal.

It could be that you overspend, miss a run or eat a piece of breaded onion.

Whatever happens, just get back on track.

It’s not a big deal until you decide to “go all out” and ruin everything. 

But in the same way, if you do go all out for an entire day, you can still get back on track the next day.

Stop thinking of it as “I messed up one thing, so it’s all for nothing.”

Every decision counts, including all the small decisions you make to stick to your goal, after you did something that hindered your goal.

2. I’ll start tomorrow, next week, next month

Sometimes going all out when you mess up can lead to further delay. Confused

You messed up, so you try again…on Monday.

You say, “well, I messed up, and it’s already Friday, so I’ll just blow off my goal the rest of the week and start fresh on Monday.”

I’m going to debunk a myth that seems to be naturally ingrained in our minds: 

You do not always have to start new things on Mondays.

The mindset of “I’m going to start this new diet, workout routine, budget, or whatever on Monday or on the 1st of next month” has got to stop.

I understand that sometimes it doesn’t make sense to start something today.

Maybe you just planned a new lifting routine and it’s bedtime.

You don’t have to go to the 24 hour gym right now, but why can’t you start first thing tomorrow morning or at least tomorrow after work?

Even if you can’t do the whole routine, start as soon as possible.

Now let’s talk about what to do if you can’t do the whole thing…

3. If I can’t do it all, I might as well not do it

You’ve planned to run for 30 minutes and you woke up 15 minutes late.

There’s no possible way you can get your 30 minute run in before work.

No problem!

Run for 15 minutes…or even five! Run for 15 minutes…or even five

Whatever you can do, do it.

For goals like this that are going to be part of your ritual or routine, it’s important to simply build the habit.

Let’s say, for whatever reason, you weren’t able to do your entire workout, at all, the entire month.

Would you feel better if you skipped all of them, or if you did a partial workout every time?

In one scenario, you never used your gym membership.

In the other scenario, you were at the gym several days a week, every week.

One built the habit, while the other was completely useless.

4. I couldn’t do it before, so I can’t do it now

When you’re out there achieving your goal, your motivation often comes in the beginning, but once it gets hard, you remember how you couldn’t do this before.

Then you start to emotionally (and illogically) assume that you can’t do it now.

Remember: this is why we set goals in our logical state. You’re improving, and so are your goals

We set goals to become better.

Of course you couldn’t do it before; you weren’t the person you are now.

You should set your expectations in a way that always assumes your goals will get harder and harder, as they should.

You’re improving, and so are your goals.

Measuring goal progress backwards will help with this.

It will help to show you how far you’ve come.

And how you can’t judge what you can do now by what you could do in the past.

You should always be able to do more.

5. Other people don’t do this much, so I don’t have to

Comparing yourself to others is almost always a bad idea.

Don’t cut your goals down based on what others are doing.

You may start with big goals, and then realize that most people don’t do half of that.

Then when you’re out there running or making cold calls or working extra jobs, you start to think “I’m already doing more than the average person, I don’t have to do this much.”

Even though earlier when you were setting the goal, you felt like it was appropriate. Make the important decisions

Don’t trust your emotions on this.

Wait on your logic.

And trust your logic.

You’re going to be much more logical when your mind is clear and you’re writing your goals, as opposed to when you’re sweating at your third job to pay off all your debt.

Remember to trust your logic that set the goal, not your emotions that are talking to you right now.

Make the important decisions with your logical mind.

You’re better than average.

You’re an overachiever, and you should be proud of that!

About Kalen Bruce Kalen Bruce of is passionate about helping you master your finances and maximize your productivity. He defies millennial laws by having no debt and four children. You can get his two ebooks, plus two personal finance classics (for free) at

I totally agree with this article. I set a goal to excersize 3 minutes interval training on my bike. I did it until a day I missed it and then I thought I blew it. I figured out I wasn't a morning person so switched the work out till late afternoons. ...Read full version

1 reply

Thought this is a fantastic article. Appropriate to so many people. Well written, well done!

0 replies

I can work in the `at least do part of it' principle. A shorter workout or study session is still taking me forward. Thanks for the post.

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