U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Government Website

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Safely connect using HTTPS

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Employee Resources
  2. News Room
  3. Changing Negative Thinking Patterns to Reach Your Goals

Changing Negative Thinking Patterns to Reach Your Goals

Release Date: January 31, 2024

Do you find yourself coming up short when trying to achieve your goals? Often, negative thoughts about yourself, others, or situations creep in and affect your mood. A negative mindset can impact the progress you make toward achieving your goals. Although these thoughts are often rooted in fear, acknowledging those thoughts, and intentionally responding to them can help navigate and further your progress. Let’s explore how to counteract negative thinking patterns.

1. All-or-nothing thinking

All-or-nothing thinking happens when you believe there are only two possible outcomes: success or failure. This could lead you to set too many goals and can also lead you to abandon your goals when mistakes happen—you believe you have already failed. Thinking of your progress in black and white can be discouraging.

Try this instead: Remind yourself of your small successes and ways you are making gradual progress. Use positive self-talk to help you feel more confident in the face of challenges. The internal conversation you have in your head has a big impact on your attitude.

2. Overgeneralizing or labeling

When you see a single event and assume it is always true you are overgeneralizing. For example, “I failed today, so that means I cannot do it.” Labeling is when you define yourself based on one instance, for example, “I could not walk today, so that means I’m just not in shape.” This way of thinking can make you feel stuck and may make it hard to get motivated.

Try this instead: Ask yourself if there is another way to think about your situation. Be kind to yourself and remember that just because you have not succeeded yet does not mean you cannot or will not with time, practice, or adjustment.

3. Overlooking the positives

Many of us set high expectations for ourselves. This makes it easy to focus too much on the negatives. For example, if your goal was to walk two miles but you only completed one mile, you might tell yourself that it did not go well. The fact is that you got out there and did something physically active. Overlooking the positives makes it hard to stay motivated.

Try this instead: Remind yourself of what is going well in your wellness journey.

Your Employee Assistance Program is Here to Help

If you need more tips or mental health support, your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help. Your EAP provides no-cost counseling to help you manage your stress and can help you and your eligible family members set goals as you start your gratitude practice. For help or more information, contact your Component EAP or send an email to worklife@hq.dhs.gov.

Last Updated: 01/31/2024
Was this page helpful?
This page was not helpful because the content