Three Figs Counseling Center

Feeling burned out or stuck going through the motions? Here’s a guide to getting your mind refocused on your goal.

Three Figs Counseling Center

What is your goal and what does it look like?


First step is figuring out where you’re headed. This can be anything, as big or small as you’d like. Imagine what it is that you want and how it will feel once you’ve achieved it. What is the setting? What do you hear, see, smell? What are you or your friends and family going to say after you’ve gotten there? How will you feel once you’ve achieved it? Imagine that goal and achieving it.

I want a girlfriend/partner. We will enjoy being together. They will support me in life. I’ll feel comfortable around them.

Three Figs Counseling Center

What is the reality right now of what’s getting in your way?

Now that you’ve imagined the thing that you want to achieve, expand it and bring it into the reality of your situation.

What are the barriers that are getting in your way? Aside from the things that you cannot control (circumstances, other people), what are the physical and mental barriers that stop you from getting there?

I don’t have time for a girlfriend because work takes up most of my energy. My last relationship ended because I could not spend as much time with her as she wanted. Coronavirus has made it hard for me to go to my usual hangout spots. I always get stuck in the friend zone.

Acknowledge that awful situation. Yes, that’s right. That negative place that we all fear. Focusing on the nightmare scenario. If you keep going on the path of gloom and doom, what do you imagine happening to you?

I’ll never meet anyone. I’ll be alone forever. What’s the point?

Three Figs Counseling Center

Prioritize. Assess your excuses. Do some real talk with yourself.


Notice how your goals and dreams just shrunk into inaction. Your choice in what you do comes from the power of your thoughts. Your action to move forward or hesitate has been made simply by thinking yourself there. Power has been taken away from the goal and now the goal seems obsolete because you’re predicting what will happen. You will always be able to come up with a million reasons why you shouldn’t do something.

This is a common experience called limited thinking. Limited thinking causes us to misinterpret situations purely based on assumptions. Our minds have a tendency to make these thoughts feel really threatening and therefore, prevent us from moving forward. This is a safety mechanism that occurs in our brains to prevent harm however, it can trick us into inaction when there’s no actual threat to harm to us in the moment.

Prioritizing comes to play once you realize what this mental barrier is causing you and assessing if your goal is worth overcoming these barriers.

Asking yourself, “What would life be like if I didn’t think this way?” What’s a more realistic or balanced outlook that I’m not considering? Would this allow for me to move towards my goal?

“I’ll never meet anyone.” → “I might meet someone because I’ve had luck in the past.”

“I’ll be alone forever.” → “I don’t actually know that and I still have time.”

“I always get stuck in the friend zone” → “I’ve been on a few successful dates but the chemistry just wasn’t there.”

Make a plan and execute it. Plan for the barriers. Repeat.

Think about the possible scenarios that could occur as you move towards your goal and create a plan to navigate through it. Given that you know what you’re likely to say to yourself, create plans for what to do if you run into those scenarios.

I will (Plan): Put myself out there and find some ways to talk to girls.

If I:  get stuck not wanting to pursue my goal because Im “predicting ” what will happen again or telling myself the same broken record (the brain’s tendency towards limit thinking)…

I will (Plan): notice my tendency towards limited thinking, pivot into reality to gain some perspective, and reassess the situation.

If I: need some encouragement,

I will: call a friend, take a break, think of people who support me.Talk to my therapist about things that are coming up for me.

It’s easy to lose sight in why we do things because of our routine habitual ways of thinking. Building up our mental abilities can help us get to where it is that we want to go.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” -Mary Oliver

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