11 Behaviors That Can Hold Your Clients (& You) Back From Taking Action & Achieving Their Goals

It’s one thing to vision and set goals with clients (or for yourself). 

It’s a completely other thing for your clients to actually take action on those goals, and move them forward. 

There are many behaviors that sabotage and hold clients back from making progress, and then of course there are underlying reasons for those behaviors. 

As practitioners who help others achieve their goals, we want to have tools & techniques to transform the behaviors and the underlying reasons and to do it all in a process where your client can love themselves deeply through it and feel empowered.

The first step is to be able to identify those behaviors that sabotage and hold clients back from taking aligned action and reaching their goals. 

Here’s a list of 11 Behaviors that you want to be on the lookout for when your clients  – or you – aren’t making the progress they’d like to make. This list isn’t exhaustive, but these are some of the biggies you’ll encounter:

Procrastination: Putting it off, and putting it off….and putting it off. Sometimes, the procrastination is painful, sitting in front of the computer screen, ready to write, and blanking out; other times procrastination looks more like choosing short term comfort (Netflix, anyone!) over the long term satisfaction of achieving goals.

Lack of Planning: You don’t plan how and when to take action steps at all, or you don’t plan well; either underestimating the amount of time certain tasks might take or not scheduling any time to do it at all.

Social Media Doom Scrolling that leads to Compare & Despair: You spend time scrolling and see other people’s supposed success (don’t believe everything that comes in your feed), and then not only do you feel dysregulated from all that technology, but you feel so bad or hopeless about yourself or your own situation that you don’t take action. 

Blaming Others: You take a step forward and then things don’t quite go the way you want them to…so you blame someone or something else for foiling you, and then stay stuck stewing in anger or feeling victimized instead of problem-solving and moving forward.

Moving into Not-Good-Enough: This is “compare and despair”, but without the “compare”; you decide  – consciously or not – that you’re not good enough to reach the goal or reach the goal well, and so you stop taking action or self-sabotage.

Getting Confused: The goal at hand feels so scary or overwhelming that even though you are whip-smart, you get totally confused about what actions to take or how to take them.

Perfectionism: You’re unwittingly operating under the belief that if it’s not absolutely perfect, it’s not good at all. So you do nothing to avoid not being perfect. Or, you fool yourself into thinking you can attain perfection that you get so caught up in revising and revising again…that you never finish the task.

Chasing after someone else’s goal: You set your goal up from a place of “should” instead of desire, or because it really is more your Dad’s expectation for you than your own expectation for yourself, or it’s because what dominant culture sees as successful or good…and then you can’t figure out why you lack the motivation to take action on the goal.

Taking too many actions: Your tendency may be to get so anxious or overzealous about achieving a goal or getting it right that you scramble and furiously take lots of action…but not the right action, not the things that will actually move you forward. And then you feel tired, drained, and frustrated.

Not asking for help: You really want to make something happen, but…there are pieces you need help with. But…you don’t think to ask for help or you can’t bring yourself to ask for help. So you don’t ask for help. And then you don’t get your stuff done.

Not taking a real break: In our Go! Go! Go! Culture, we often push ourselves and our bodies and our psyches past their natural limits. There is so much to do. Because being overworked and being overwhelmed are normalized in society, you may not realize that the reason you’ve become less efficient, less motivated, or downright resistant to taking action is because what you really need is a break.

Helping your client name and identify the behaviors that are holding them back is a great first step toward getting them back on track. After all, what we do not name and keep in the blindspots can cause way more damage than what we see clearly. (Remember to do this step with love, respect, and compassion for your client!)

This is a very important step, and it is really just a first step. After you identify the behaviors, use trauma-informed tools and skills to support your clients to break the behavior patterns and move towards aligned action taking and empowered steps towards the goals they deeply desire.

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