How to Overcome Internal Resistance When Setting New Goals

5 Ways to Get Past What’s Holding You Back From Achieving Your Goals

The ability to overcome internal resistance when setting new goals can be the difference in achieving them or not.

The better we understand what resistance is coming up for us, the more likely we can overcome them.

There are three levels of setting goals, based on:

  1. What we know we can do or achieve.
  2. What we think we can do or achieve.
  3. What we really want, which are our dreams.

If we set goals based on the first two, they don’t classify as goals because we won’t grow. The purpose of setting goals is to challenge ourselves to do something we haven’t done before. In achieving our goals, we’ll grow as a person and tap into resources within us.

What Can Hold You Back From Achieving Your Goals

When we set goals based on what we really want, that can bring up a lot of internal resistance. This is because we don’t know how to achieve them. We also may have thoughts whether we can achieve them.

These thoughts of doubt, concern, worry, uncertainty are all examples of internal resistance we must address.

Whenever we set goals, there is usually excitement and higher levels of energy initially. As time goes by, if we don’t address our internal resistance, our goals may become a grind. This can lead to delays in achieving them or us quitting our goals.

Our internal resistance can play out as excuses, justifications, blaming or complaining why we cannot achieve our goals. That’s the power they have over us, which is why we must learn to overcome our internal resistance.

overcome internal resistance when setting new goals

A few years ago, I set to a goal to attend a year-long training program in the USA. This involved a big financial commitment and significant travel as it required me to attend three week-long events during the year.

Even though it was something I wanted to do, it still brought up a lot of internal resistance. My resistance played out as self-doubt, uncertainty and whether I was making the right decision.

Thankfully, I had supportive peers who helped me remain motivated to complete the training. Achieving that goal has led to new opportunities, which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t overcome my internal resistance.

5 Ways to Overcome Internal Resistance When Setting New Goals

Any internal resistance we face is as an obstacle or challenge to overcome. Whenever we have problems, there are also opportunities and solutions. Here are five ways or things we can do to overcome internal resistance when setting new goals.

  1. Be clear on your motivators. We must have compelling reasons to achieve our goals. Unless we’re clear on our motivators, it’s unlikely we’ll have any emotional connection to our goals. Our reasons or our “why,” will keep us going during challenging times. Always remember, “Reasons before results.” Strong reasons will lead to powerful results.
  2. Identify threats, hazards or obstacles ahead of time. This isn’t about giving focus to what can go wrong. It’s about planning and preparing for anything that could take us off track. Knowing what can come up ahead of time will allow us to put in place mitigation strategies to overcome them.
  3. Develop a growth mindset. We always want to continue learning. Our goals will cause us to develop a new awareness, knowledge, skills or competencies to achieve them. These will enable us to grow as a person and utilise more of our gifts, talents and abilities.
  4. Question your assumptions or beliefs. Our beliefs shape how we view ourselves and the world. They dictate what we’re willing or not willing to do. Not everything we believe is true and not everything we believe is false.

    If our beliefs are not helping us achieve our goals, we have to question and challenge them. This is where working with a mentor or a coach can help us develop new beliefs.

  5. Manage or process your emotions. A common response to any resistance is to fight it or try to eliminate it. A better option is to acknowledge what’s coming up for us, then release those emotions not serving us. Learning how to use releasing techniques can help us let go of emotions that are unhealthy.


If our goals are important to us, we must overcome any internal resistance we have. Resistance will always come up whenever we’re challenging ourselves to do something we haven’t done before.

When we learn to overcome internal resistance, achieving our goals becomes easier. If we don’t overcome internal resistance, we’ll reduce our chances of achieving our goals.

Our goals are worth challenging ourselves to achieve them.

Action Step: Review your goals and identify what resistance you may have. Use the ideas suggested here so you can overcome them and continue making progress towards achieving them.

Question: What are more ways to overcome internal resistance when setting new goals?