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Overcoming barriers in your personal health and wellness can be difficult. Even if you know the change will be good for you, it’s often uncomfortable.
That’s especially true when it comes to making health and wellness changes. Many bad health habits are deeply ingrained. Replacing them with healthier ones requires a lot of work . . . and a lot of patience.
The first step to success is having a clear vision of what achieving health and wellness looks like to you. In other words, you must know your priorities and identify goals that align with your values.
But no matter what your health and wellness goals may be, one thing is certain: you will encounter barriers along the way.
To achieve lasting change, you have to expect barriers. You also have to recognize them as you encounter them, and create a game plan to overcome them.
How to Identify Barriers to Change
A barrier is anything that gets in the way of you achieving your goals. Barriers pull you off track, slowing down or even stopping your progress.
Unfortunately, many people run into these obstacles and then give up. Sometimes this happens because they don’t know how to navigate through to successfully overcome barriers. But other times it’s because they don’t recognize the barriers in the first place.
If you want to reach your health and wellness goals, you have to be able to clearly identify what your barriers are. Only then can you figure out a game plan for overcoming them.
You should keep in mind that some barriers are external, like a busy schedule, distractions, or health issues. Other barriers are internal, such as lack of knowledge, fear, or low self-esteem. Some barriers will prevent you from even getting started at all, while others will arise later.
To identify your own barriers, think about your goals and the last few times you tried to achieve them. If you didn’t succeed, what held you back? Was it your mindset? Was it certain habits?
Or if this is the first time trying to achieve a goal, what do you think will or could stop you from making long-term changes in the future?
Everyone will make mistakes and encounter challenges during their health and wellness journey. But if you try to anticipate obstacles and identify them as specifically as possible when you meet them, you’ll be much more likely to overcome barriers.
How to Overcome Barriers to Change
Once you’ve identified your barriers, you should brainstorm realistic ways to address them. You should consider as many solutions as possible, even if you haven’t tried them before. Be creative!
Then think about the pros and cons of each possible solution, and choose an approach that you think will most likely help you reach your health and wellness goals. Understand that you may need to try more than one approach and that is completely okay. Just keep experimenting until you find a way forward!
Below are some ways you can overcome barriers to make sustainable long-term change in your life.
Create A Plan for Achieving Your Goals
Many people don’t follow through on their goals because they don’t think they have enough time. They think they’re too busy, or they have more important things to focus on right now.
Does a perfect time really exist for you to begin working towards an important life goal? To be honest, there is not. However, this is where time management skills will be saving your grace. And time management starts with a plan.
You can get ideas for your plan by speaking and looking at how others manage to incorporate healthy habits into their busy schedules. And once you’ve decided the best way to incorporate healthy habits into your life, create a plan of action.
This means identifying what you need to do to succeed, including the first step you need to take, and when you need to take it. You should also think about barriers you may encounter and how you’ll deal with them.
For example, if you want to start exercising more, you have to decide which days, what time, the type of exercise, and how long you’ll exercise. If you think a busy schedule will get in the way, plan your workouts on different days and times for a week to figure out which works best for you.
The more specific and detailed your plan is, the better! If you have a vague plan, you’re much less likely to follow through on it.
Set Realistic Goals and Break into Subgoals
When you have a big goal, the sheer size of the undertaking is sometimes enough to throw you off track.
To increase your chances of success, make sure your goals are realistic. For example, it’s not a good idea to try to lose a large amount of weight in a very short period of time or eat a “perfect” diet every single day. Unrealistic goals will likely do more harm than good.
Instead, figure out what’s achievable for you. Then once you have a realistic goal, as noted above, you should have a detailed plan to reach your goal. That plan should include breaking each of your goals into sub goals. Having these smaller short-term goals will help you gain momentum since you’ll have more frequent “wins” and will actually enjoy the process.
For example, instead of doing a complete overhaul of your diet, you can start by eating two vegetable servings a day or hitting a daily protein goal.
Even small changes in your life can have a huge impact. And overtime, they’ll add up to big changes. If you try to make too many changes at once, you’re likely to give up on all of them. But if you keep your goals simple, measurable, and manageable, you’re much more likely to feel motivated to keep going.
Build Your Confidence and Self-Esteem
Mindset issues are one of the biggest roadblocks to change. It’s impossible to achieve lasting change if you have a fixed mindset and don’t believe in your ability to change. Negative thoughts like “I already messed this up” or “I’m too set in my ways” aren’t productive and will not allow you to make progress.
But like all other habits, you can change your mental habits. You can focus on having a growth mindset and learn how to embrace the uncertainties that come with change.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
But to start, it can be helpful to keep a record of your thoughts. When you’re feeling negative, write about the situation and how you’re feeling. Then write down your underlying thoughts and ask yourself if they’re helpful or accurate. Over time, you should be able to identify which thoughts are helpful and healthy, and which ones are holding you back.
It can also help to educate yourself on health and wellness. This can boost your confidence in your choices. And as noted above, setting smaller, easier sub goals can help as well. Sub goals are not as intimidating and achieving them can change the way you view yourself and your ability to change.
Expand Your Health and Wellness Knowledge
To reach your health and wellness goals, you have to be willing to learn. You need to know which of your habits need to change and why. You also need to know how to effectively make those changes.
If you don’t take the time to properly educate yourself, there’s a good chance your progress will slow down or come to a complete halt.
For example, if you want to improve your sleep quality, it is important to not only understand what is causing your sleep quality to be low, but you need to also learn the techniques you could try to sleep better at night.
Luckily, there are many free credible websites, books, and other resources you can utilize to strengthen your health and wellness knowledge. And if you don’t know what to focus on, consider getting the help of an expert, like a Health & Wellness Coach.
Developing Your Internal Motivation
When trying to reach health and wellness goals, many people start by relying on external motivation.
External motivation is based on factors outside of yourself — like rewards, competitions and punishments. While this type of motivation may help at the beginning of your journey, many people hit barriers once those external factors are removed.
If you want sustainable change, you have to develop your own internal motivation. Internal motivation comes from within. It’s understanding your personal content and reasoning for your goals to achieve long-term success.
Developing internal motivation is a process. You’ll have to devote time and energy into self-discovery to figure out what your true reasonings and content are for your desire to change. But it’s absolutely worth doing to help you overcome barriers you will face during your health and wellness journey.
Face Your Fear
Stepping outside of the comfort of your old health habits can be difficult and scary. You may be afraid that you don’t have what it takes. Or that you’ll never be able to eat the things you love again. Or that you’ll look like a newbie in the gym. Or that you need to find the perfect program or know everything before you get started.
Fear is a normal response to things that are unknown or challenging. But if you allow fear to control you, you will let it interfere with reaching your goals. Fear can affect you emotionally and physically, and it has the power to stop you from even trying.
Fortunately, you can manage your fear. You can use your reasoning skills, mindset work, and your support systems to overcome barriers related to fear. You can speak about it or write down your feelings to help identify triggers or determine how present you are being in your life. As noted above, it can also help to create sub goals, so that your goals aren’t completely overwhelming.
If fear is standing in your way of true progress — explore techniques for managing it. However, keep in mind, you can’t just try one and if it doesn’t work then give up. It is important for you to keep trying different methods until you find one that works for you!
Address Physical and Mental Health Issues
There are some barriers that require the help of a professional. For example, you may have certain health conditions or physical limitations that might require a different approach to successfully reach your goals.
That’s why it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor before making big life changes to your current eating and exercise habits.
Your mental health is equally as important. If you feel stressed and hopeless all of the time, you will not be in the best mindset needed to make positive changes. Issues with mindset can also have a huge impact on your ability to recognize and analyze your unhealthy behaviors.
But with expert diagnosis, you can receive the treatment you need to overcome these types of barriers. You’ll then be ready and able to pursue your goals both physically and mentally.
No matter what your barriers are, it can make a world of difference if you have support as you work through them. Strong support systems are critical to successfully achieving your goals.
Many people turn to their family members and friends. For example, if you’re trying to be more active, you might recruit your spouse or a friend to join you, or at least cheer you on. You can also ask them for help in changing your habits and keeping you accountable.
Even before you encounter any barriers, you should think about who in your life can support you on your journey. And don’t be afraid to lean on them when you need to!
If you don’t feel like there’s anyone you’re comfortable relying on, a professional like a Health & Wellness Coach can be an invaluable source of support, encouragement, and knowledge.
Whatever You Do, Just Keep Going
When you first start working towards a goal, it can be exciting. Your motivation is high, and the “newness” of it all keeps your spirits up.
But sooner or later, you will encounter barriers. And if you’re not prepared for them, your progress may stall or even be lost. This can be rather discouraging, causing you to give up altogether.
The most important thing is to remember that health and wellness is a lifelong journey. If you encounter a barrier, the ideal solution is not to give up. Many people have been on this journey before you, and there’s a way to break down every kind of barrier.
Therefore, whatever you do, just keep going. Keep trying to find solutions for overcoming your barriers. And don’t forget to celebrate your successes, too — no matter how small!
To overcome barriers more quickly, you should also consider working with a certified Health & Wellness Coach. Your coach will have the experience and knowledge to help you identify your personal barriers and figure out ways to overcome them.