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Going for Goal? Managing and Moving Past Setbacks
Mental Health

Going for Goal? Managing and Moving Past Setbacks

By Kim McCaskill, LPC-MHSP
Posted: February 28, 2024

It is now the three-month mark since the new year began, and many people are still working on their New Year's resolutions. Are you finding yourself still on track to complete your goals, or are you feeling a little - well, adrift? Many people typically start to experience behavioral drift away from their goals around this time of the year, which is why it is crucial to understand how we can escape this behavioral drift cycle.

On the other hand, maybe you are crushing your goals. Maybe you decided that “Dry January” was a good time to kick-start a long break from alcohol use. Perhaps you have made progress with getting more organized or cleaning your home more often. You are achieving your goals, and adapting to these positive changes with each passing week is getting easier. 

Of course, life happens, and sometimes we drift off track from our goals. Dr. Seuss kindly reminds us that we will end up in a slump. In Oh, The Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss delivers a dose of reality, reminding us that “unslumping yourself is not easily done.” 

Understanding Behavioral Drift:

Slumps are known in the mental health field as behavioral drift, regression, or lapse. When we don’t recognize behavioral drift as a normal part of the change process, we are more likely to remain regressed when we fall off track from our progress. 

Drift tends to set in gradually, so it can be hard to notice until it has occurred for some time. Our brains are hard-wired to seek the path of least resistance and stay with what is familiar, even if the familiar behavior is unhealthy! Criticizing ourselves during regression or telling ourselves that regression means change is too hard will only make us feel worse for experiencing this normal part of the process. Think of progress like a sawtooth pattern on a chart that climbs upward over time instead of a linear progression. You are still progressing but with peaks and valleys along the way. 

When we expect drift to occur, we can more readily focus on and resolve the barriers that threw us off track and return to making positive change. Eventually, the brain learns to recognize new behavior patterns as familiar, and resisting drift is much easier. 


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Continuing Your Journey

The principles of behavioral drift apply to any healthy change we aim to make in life. Don’t give up on yourself. Recognize and resolve any barriers that created your drift, and get back on track!

If you find yourself drifting from your goals, we are here to help! Contact Methodist Healthcare Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 901.683.5658 or visit

Are you looking for extra help in improving your health and staying on track of your goals? You can join thousands of others across the Mid-South who are committing to lose one million pounds in 3 years through Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare's Healthier 901 initiative. Learn more about and download the free Healthier 901 app to get access to workout videos, nutrition plans, sponsor prize giveaways, and so much more!

Kim McCaskill, LPC-MHSP

Kim McCaskill, LPC-MHSP


Kim McCaskill earned her B.A. in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of Mississippi. She earned her M.S. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. Kim has experience with Inpatient, Intensive Outpatient, and Routine Outpatient settings. In addition to her time as a clinical team member, she has been in private practice. She has also served in leadership roles as an administrator and clinical supervisor. She has special interests in helping with anxiety, depressive issues, coping with chronic pain/illness, interpersonal problems, substance use concerns, healthy living skills/prevention care, and self-esteem issues. She welcomes the opportunity to assist individuals, regardless of their lifestyles or belief systems. She enjoys reading, comedy, music, and time with loved ones.

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