Smarter Goal-Setting with BPD: Strategies for Success

June 11, 2024 Karen Mae Vister

Goal-setting with borderline personality disorder can be difficult. Living with borderline personality disorder (BPD) feels like being trapped in an endless loop, where the same mistakes replay like a broken record. This seems to be true for me, especially when setting goals. Without smarter goal-setting in BPD, living up to my dreams and aspirations can feel like trying to catch a cloud and pin it down.

My life was full of failed attempts until I stumbled upon the concept of smarter goal-setting, but this wasn't an instant fix. The symptoms of BPD, such as intense emotions, impulsivity, and fear of rejection and abandonment, are like invisible tripwires that can sabotage even the best-laid plans. Every time a mood swing or an emotional flashback hit, it was as if I forgot why I should even care about my goals or my life. However, with smarter goal setting, those of us with BPD can find a way to navigate these obstacles and achieve our aims.

Smarter Goal Setting with BPD: Understanding the Challenges

Here are some of the challenges of goal-setting with BPD:

  • Intense emotions: Emotional dysregulation is at the core of BPD. Imagine your emotions are on a constant rollercoaster, with higher highs and lower lows than most people experience. Maintaining focus and motivation amidst this turmoil is nearly impossible without a strategy.
  • Impulsivity: BPD often comes with impulsivity, which can scatter your goals and interests to the wind. Today you want to be a painter and tomorrow a talk show host. This erratic pattern makes long-term planning seem like a cruel joke. Impulsivity also invites self-sabotage, derailing any progress made.
  • Fear of failure and abandonment: An overwhelming fear of failure and abandonment often haunts those with BPD. I found myself reluctant to set goals with BPD for fear I'd fall short, disappoint my loved ones, and then become abandoned for not being "good enough." This fear either paralyzed me into inaction or filled my efforts with anxiety and self-doubt, undermining every step forward.

Strategies for Smarter Goal Setting with BPD

For smarter goal-setting with BPD, try these strategies:

  • Set realistic and specific goals: Start small and specific. Instead of a vague "get in shape," try "exercise for 30 minutes, three times a week." This clear, achievable goal will help build a sense of accomplishment and create forward momentum. 
  • Develop a structured plan: Break your goals into bite-sized tasks and assign realistic deadlines. Detailed planning and routine can anchor you when everything else feels chaotic, making larger projects less daunting.
  • Practice mindfulness and self-care: Ground yourself with mindfulness. Regular self-care, whether it is meditation, journaling, exercise, or something else, will help regulate emotions and curb impulsivity, keeping you aligned with your goals. 
  • Embrace flexibility: Expect setbacks and learn from them. Flexibility is key; a setback isn't a failure but a lesson. Adjust your plans without abandoning your goals.

In my video below, I discuss how to keep your eye on the prize amidst those BPD hiccups. By embracing these strategies and understanding the unique hurdles, you can start smarter goal-setting with BPD.

APA Reference
Mae, K. (2024, June 11). Smarter Goal-Setting with BPD: Strategies for Success, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Karen Mae Vister

Karen Mae Vister, author of her blog, Over the Borderline, dedicates her work to providing valuable content and support for individuals on the path to recovery from borderline personality disorder. Find Karen Mae on Instagram and her blog.

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