The Ultimate List of Reasons Why You Haven’t Achieved Your Dreams Yet
And how to eliminate them
I was making 6 figures in my comfortable job, living in the best part of the town surrounded by loving friends. I shopped at WholeFoods, afforded nice clothes, and donated my time and money to charities. I was living a good life.
As an immigrant single woman living a good life in America, I was acutely aware of my blessings. I felt grateful and happy, yet I felt as if something was missing. I made a few leaps in my life to get to where I am, but then I settled for only making incremental jumps. My dreams became a distant reality. I felt bad when thinking about my dreams because even the idea of daring to go after them made me feel overwhelmed.
I made a few attempts to start a business and create a life where I’d have more flexibility. I toyed with the idea of moving to a bigger city. I applied for jobs that seemed to better align with my talents. I tried dating to have a strong partnership. All these efforts resulted in half a** results – because I didn’t know how to go about my dreams or what was stopping me.
First, I needed to decode the beast that made me paralyzed or run away too quickly. I call this beast The Dream Slayer. Through journaling, yoga, and coaching, I got a clear understanding of what was in between me and my dreams. Since then, I have been taking steps to create the life I want.
The results are remarkable. I have been building an incredibly fulfilling partnership. I left my job to finally live like a global citizen (funny timing with the virus, but it is still so rewarding). I started my own company on conscious leadership development – a focus that gives me joy. I shed most of my belongings to live lightly and independently.
Having said that, unfortunately, each day I still encounter The Dream Slayer. The difference is that now I am so much better at identifying and managing it instead of letting it stop me.
Here are the signs that you also have a dream slayer in your life and how you can eliminate it:
1. You haven’t learned how to manage your mind yet
This is the number one reason and all the other reasons in this article are a byproduct of this notion.
Our upbringing and conditioning create thoughts and emotions. Repeated thoughts and emotions turn into beliefs and actions, and finally, repeated actions combined with supporting beliefs turn into habits. Not surprisingly, habits shape our daily lives. The source and the home to all thoughts, emotions, beliefs, actions, and habits is our mind. When a new event happens in our lives, we respond automatically from our habits – behaviorally and mentally.
As an example; imagine that you want to start your own company in a year. You make a list of actions that will help you do that. In the beginning, you are pumped, but as you attempt to take steps, you lose your motivation. Say you have networking on your list; each time you reach out to someone, the voice in your head (your thoughts and belief systems) tell you that you suck at networking. It also tells you it is too hard. You listen to that voice, lose all your motivation, and end up busying yourself with TV or alcohol (insert your own numbing agent here.) As a result, you take zero action. By the end of the year, the dream of having your own company becomes an unapproachable and lofty goal.
It blows my mind that we don’t spend enough time understanding and commanding our minds despite its crucial role.
We act as if our mind is someone else’s junkyard therefore we don’t have any responsibility or motivation to clean it up.
We deal with actions erratically, or worse, try to break habits without solving the issues at the root.
Solving the issues at the source would be identifying the thoughts and beliefs that hinder helpful action. Once we know them, we can then stop entertaining them.
What you can do:
Make a habit of observing your thoughts.
Assess and develop your ability to choose your thoughts instead of automatically being sucked into them. Find out what works best for you to do this; yoga, meditation, affirmations, journaling are all good options.
2. You believe your identity and worth are tied to accomplishments
The fallacious assumption here is that you are defined by your success. You are supposed to feel good about yourself only when you “get there”. If you failed, that would be a reflection of who you are.
The truth is you are a complicated and multifaceted expression of life. You are a product of improbable combinations of many events and people (the odds of you being alive is approximately 10 in 102,685,000 in– umm, basically close to zero). You are life itself.
You are much more than your actions, even more than your identity. Your identity can change and you still have the intrinsic worth of being a precious human being.
Feeling this intrinsic worth is the key to stripping the burden of fear. If we already felt whole and worthy, there wouldn't be anything we could do or lose to make us feel less.
We wouldn’t fear judgment, because we’d be so centered in our worth, opinions wouldn’t matter much.
“Those who have finished by making all others think with them have usually been those who began daring to think for themselves”- Caleb Charles Colton
We wouldn't fear failure, because we’d know failure isn't a reflection of our identity, it is just a mere result of certain actions that we can easily improve.
Instead, we would claim our birthright to create and live fully. The success and failure would be just valleys and peaks of life; both to be experienced and enjoyed.
What you can do:
Write down your goals/dreams and ask:
Who am I without my accomplishments?
When I visualize my success, what are the “buts”, and “ifs” that come up for me?
3. You are waiting for things to be perfect
This connects to fear of judgment and failure. You may tell yourself you are getting ready while in reality, you are trying to be perfect to avoid failure or judgment.
The truth is nothing is perfect in the beginning and doesn’t have to be. The purpose of creation is the delight of discovery.
If we jumped from an idea to a perfect outcome, life would be deprived of deep fulfillment that only comes from curiosity, experimentation, and progress.
People who grasp the process of creation aren’t afraid of putting themselves out there with rudimentary work. They expect to learn and iterate. They value the experience of creating as much as the fruits of their labor.
What you can do:
What are the excuses preventing me from launching my dreams?
How do I define “good enough” and why?
What makes me feel ready and why?
4. You have a scarcity mindset
Perhaps you are a budding writer who wants to be a bestselling author one day. Maybe you are a novice entrepreneur who has an exciting idea. It could be that you are single and looking for a partner that makes your heart sing. Regardless of the subject, imagine that you are about to create a new condition in your life.
If your mindset is that there is limited space, quantity, money, people, etc., the result will also be limited. Due to cognitive biases, your brain will look for evidence confirming what you already know and will ignore or downplay any piece of evidence that seems to support an alternate view.
This means, even though there are countless opportunities around you because you believe there isn’t enough, you will not see them.
By contrast, if you have an abundance mindset, you will look for how you can achieve what you want regardless of how hard or improbable it may seem. You will recognize other people who were in similar situations and achieved great success. You will feel inspired and affirmed.
What you can do
Contemplate the abundance in nature. Nature gives lavishly and becomes more in the process of giving.
Find examples of other people who achieved dreams similar to yours regardless of the competition they faced. That is proof that it can be done.
Ask: “What are the scarcity beliefs I have been holding?”
5. You are fixated on the end result and missing the journey
Suppose you launched your idea and now you are in the middle of execution. If the way you execute is cutthroat – meaning that you totally discount and miss your experience now, because you only care about the result tomorrow – you will likely experience burnout.
We often confuse commitment with obsession. We even use obsession as if it is a desired state. There is a fundamental difference though:
Commitment is making the desired result a persistent priority vs. obsession is tuning out of life for a specific result.
Commitment is about the process of becoming and it welcomes the joy of discovery and learning. In contrast, obsession is rigid, blinding us to the small achievements along the way.
So, if you spend countless hours on your project pushing family and friends away, forgetting to congratulate yourself for the small victories, and feeling exhausted/anxious, you are missing the point of creating. Worse, you are missing your life.
What you can do:
Examine how you do things. What is the prevailing mindset/feeling? Do you feel like you are living an enjoyable and holistic life?
If not, question what you need to shift so that you can still execute and enjoy the process at the same time.
6. You are not clear about what you want
If you find yourself unable to articulate or visualize what you want, chances are that you won’t feel the motivation to do anything about it. You will feel overwhelmed by the choices. You may even feel anger/disappointment with yourself that you keep changing your mind.
What you might be missing is that it is perfectly normal to be in the discovery phase.
The more you judge yourself for being unclear, the more you delay your epiphanies.
We are all on a unique timeline because we all have different backgrounds, genes, experiences, etc. It is unrealistic to expect we should follow the same arc and timing of discovery, journey, and arrival.
Instead, we should focus on connecting with the joy of life within us; paying attention to what excites us, or dims down our light. We should be committed to living life fully, expressing our unique gifts, and the clarity will follow.
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.” ― Joseph Campbell
What to do:
Meditate or journal on the questions:
“What gives me joy?”
“If I didn’t put any pressure on myself on when/how I should find what I truly want, what would be the first thing I can experiment with?”
7. Your desire and efforts are inconsistent
If you start going after an idea and stop soon after, you probably need to go back to gaining clarity or learn the true meaning of commitment.
In the case where you lose your interest shortly after you launch an idea, you are still likely discovering, sifting, and sorting your interest. Otherwise, your interest would be strong enough to keep you engaged.
If the idea is magnetic, yet you feel difficulty executing it, you may be in a stage of figuring out how to be persistent.
Expecting little action to yield great results or impatience can get in the way of persistence.
Any great idea/dream requires consistent action and interest. Think about a magnificent structure like the Eiffel Tower. It has signs of powerful concentration and commitment all over it. Imagine what the architect, investors, all the workers had to do. A mere idea born in someone's imagination turned into awe-inspiring reality through repeated actions.
“When the going gets tough, put one foot in front of the other and just keep going. Don’t give up.”― Roy T. Bennett
What to do:
Question where and why you start and stop.
Figure out a few actions that you can take every day to get closer to your goal.
8. You are attached to “how things should be”
“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” - John Lennon
It is great to plan and visualize your success. However, there is a fine line between planning and letting life unfold – what I call co-creating with life.
Life is so much grander than us. When we cooperate with life, we can tap into the realm of unprecedented creation. If you are too specific about the ways you want to achieve your success, you leave no room for the gifts of life; serendipities, unexpected support, and twist and turns that make the journey a great story.
Our role is then still having a vision but letting go of how we should get there.
It is saying yes to all of life. It is to choose our response to what life brings to us. If we can welcome obstacles and use them to grow, life rewards us with the fruits of our labors in the most creative ways.
What to do:
How is rigidity about “how” you can achieve your dreams showing up?
How can you allow alternative ways?
How can you adapt what’s in front of you?
We are here to experience life and go after our bliss. If you haven’t done this fully, it is never too late.
Give all your energy to understand and manage your mind first.
Ground your sense of worth in your true self rather than your accomplishments.
Get clear about what gives you joy.
Don’t wait until things are perfect to act.
Adopt an abundance mindset.
Learn how to execute consistently while enjoying the process.
Be open to alternative ways your dreams can unfold.
Beyond all, enjoy the ride, fellow humans!