Avoid the Cycle of Failure

Balancing Intellect and Emotion

Q: I create plans for things all the time (new year’s resolutions, new diet, new exercise program, etc.) and then somewhere along the way I get derailed and fall back into bad habits. How can I stop this frustrating cycle of failure? -Delvana


A: Delvana, you are experiencing what sounds like the neurological battle we all go through when seeking to make a change, and you are wired to react the way you are. However, there is something you can do about it.


The human brain was designed and has evolved to keep us safe, happy and alive. Without going into technical terms, we are wired to be governed by our emotions much more easily than our intellect. You may create a plan intellectually, but as soon as emotions swell up, your brain will throw that plan out the window. This is why a great diet will be tossed out by a broken heart.


Having said that, there are some strategies you can employ, knowing that if a big enough emotional challenge comes up, you’ll be in dangerous territory.


  1. In addition to a great plan for whatever it is you want to achieve, it is important to have a contingency plan. Anticipate the likely emotional challenges you will face and plan for how to deal with them.

  2. Lower the bar for your goal and gradually raise it. Start with small goals and when they become habit (takes on average 66 days and often more), increase your expectations slightly.

  3. If you have a slip up, accept it and get back on track. Don’t waste time feeling guilt or shame, simply re-commit and start again. If the goals were small, getting back on track should be easier.

  4. Practice gratitude for what you have accomplished and what you are enjoying as a result of your accomplishments. This will emotionally reinforce your intellectual plan.


When you acknowledge that your brain is trying to make you happy, you can work with it and create the kind of plan that embraces emotional ups and downs and moves you forward anyway. The path may be winding, but it will still get you there.


Combining over 30 years in the field of self-development, Rod is the CEO of the Certified Coaches Federation, one of the largest coach education companies in the world, and a speaker, coach and author. For more information on the Certified Coaches Federation, visit www.certifiedcoachesfederation.com and for more information on Rod, visit www.indestructiblehuman.com.  


Want to ask Tonic’s Coach a question? Send a brief email to rod@indestructiblehuman.com describing your challenge in 50 words or less, and one question will be selected per issue.


Categories: Emotional Health & Wellness