This post is for you if you…
- have a dream but don’t know how to get there
- want to know why you haven’t achieved your goal
- are looking for a doable action plan to move your closer to your desire
The Purpose of this Post
I am a dreamer. It is nothing for hours to go by without notice as I dive head first into research, planning and dreaming when an idea sparks my interest. Surrounded by multiple spiral notebooks, highlighters and my favorite pen, I plot and plan like my life depends on it. My excitement is palpable and explodes off of my body in waves, often prompting me to get up and jump around because the energy gets too intense.
And then…nothing. My drawers are full of years of imagination that have fallen flat, journals with my heart poured onto the pages. Never to be realized desires stuffed away and pushed aside. It’s not that I don’t have the willpower or discipline (ask anyone who knows me, I have more than most) to see them through. Lack of vision and planning is also not the problem. Instead, it’s the roadblocks I set in front of myself that stall my progress. Obstacles I can’t see around and don’t know how to overcome.
The purpose of my post is to highlight these obstacles and what I did to face them head on, so that you can uncover how you are holding yourself back from realizing your own dream.
So You Have a Dream
Whether you identify with my style of dreaming or not, we all have desires and goals we wish to achieve. But did you know that only 8% of people actually achieve their goals every year (University of Scranton study)? That means 92% don’t!
92%. That’s a huge and depressing number.
Don’t get discouraged though, just because you aren’t where you want to be doesn’t mean you can’t ever get there. All it takes is some self-awareness and a willingness to put in a little work. Let’s take the first step by identifying the top 7 reasons people don’t achieve their dreams and the action you can take to move forward.
7 Things Holding You Back from Reaching Your Dream
You Aren’t Clear on What You Want
Clarity is a big deal. It’s the difference between arriving and getting lost. Think about going on a road trip, for example. Your friend who lives across the country invited you to stay with her, so you take 7 days off of work. Because you want to spend the most time with your friend rather than in your car, it makes sense to take the fastest and most direct route to her house. Do you just get in the car without knowing her address and start driving or do you plug it into the gps?
If you have an idea of an end goal but aren’t super clear on exactly what that goal looks like, it’s going to be a lot like getting into your car with absolutely no idea which way to go. You don’t need to know all the steps it will take to get there but you do need to know where you are heading.
What is your dream? What does it look like and feel like? Write down exactly what you want with as much detail as possible with the understanding that it will most likely change along the way. The idea is to focus on the end result and the feeling you want to have when you reach it.
For example: If you want to quit your corporate job and work for yourself, you don’t need to know exactly what you will be doing when you achieve this. You only need to know that your dream is to be an entrepreneur and you want to do something to help other women achieve the same. How you help them doesn’t matter right now, only the end result does. Visualize yourself as that entrepreneur and focus on the feeling you have while imagining it.
Related Reading: The Quickest Way to Manifest Your Dream Life
Your Mindset Needs Work
We all know those people; the ones who are a walking embodiment of Eeyore. Nothing ever goes right, their self-talk is atrocious and they don’t believe they can accomplish anything. Maybe you aren’t this bad, but I would be willing to bet you possess some negative thoughts that are not doing you any favors.
I am not advocating a positive only thought adoption. Not only is this unattainable, but it also adds undue stress on you for even trying. Instead, a little self-observation can do wonders to help you get your mind right.
Pay attention to your thoughts. Start with a small block of time, say 1-5 minutes, then work your way up to daily. You have thousands of them a day, so it’s impossible to notice them all but you can get a good idea pretty quickly of the direction yours are flowing. Refrain from judgement as you observe (don’t say “I shouldn’t think that”) and instead look for patterns. Perhaps you start to notice that before every stressful situation you start talking poorly to yourself. When you notice a behavior pattern, you can start to get out in front of the thoughts you know are coming. Swap out “I am so unqualified for this and I don’t know what I’m doing” for “Yes, it’s stressful, but I know that I can learn no matter what happens”.
Another option if paying attention to your thoughts is too overwhelming is to simply notice your feelings and emotions instead. If you feel happy and expansive, you know you are thinking positive thoughts. Feeling tight and constricted? That’s your clue to stop what you are doing and examine what the thought is that is creating that feeling.
Related Reading: How to Change Your Mindset to Get What You Want
You are Ruled by Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs are ideas you formed as a child based on your experiences. Think of them like rules you follow and your sense of right and wrong. The crazy thing about these beliefs is they will control you if you allow them to.
Let me give you an example of a limiting belief:
Belief: Relationships are always painful.
Root of this belief: You grew up watching your parents fight and eventually divorce, leading you to assume that all relationships bring pain.
Most often, these beliefs are false realities appearing true (also known as fears). You made an assumption based on an experience and have since lived your life following that very juvenile idea. Or you simply adopted the beliefs of those who held/hold influence in your life, which means your beliefs are not your own.
Examine the beliefs you hold. Ask yourself questions until you get to the root of where that particular belief came from. Is the belief yours or did it come from someone else? How can you re-write this idea into one that makes more sense for where you are headed now, as an adult vs where you were then, as a child.
Related Reading: How to Overcome Limiting Beliefs and Manifest Your Dream
You are a Champion Over-Analyzer
Okay, so maybe you aren’t, but I sure am. It is nothing for me to spend DAYS making a decision on whether I should buy a $20 waterproof box to keep my Christmas lights from shorting out when it rains. I know, absolutely ridiculous and exhausting but to my mind, so necessary. Then, once I make the decision to move forward with the purchase, comes additional hours researching the best one.
Overanalyzing and overthinking is a vice that paralyzes your forward progress. In reality, it is simply a form of trying to control what happens to you and manipulate the outcome. Not only does it hold you back, but the brain power you spend on needlessly worrying is a complete waste of resources that could be put into doing something productive.
The key for me in combating my overthinking addiction was to put things into perspective. Is wasting $20 on something that may or may not help really going to matter in the grand scheme of things? Of course not. What could I have done with those wasted hours instead? When you find yourself falling into the familiar comfort of thinking about everything that could possibly happen, stop. How can you view it differently? Where could you make better use of your time? Will this matter a year from now? (most likely in the form of still being stuck overanalyzing instead of living your dream!)
Related Reading: How to Overcome Indecisiveness that Robs You of Opportunities
A Lot of Planning and Zero Action
Plans are great. They provide a structure and foundation for what you are trying to achieve. Don’t stop planning. But do stop making plans and not following through with them. Whether it is a fear that stopping you or simply a distraction, I don’t think it will come as a big surprise that plans without action will never get you to where you want to be.
Giving yourself a framework is necessary when working towards an achievement. Making sure you take action that is aligned with your end goal is essential. What holds some people back is thinking that action has to be huge and life changing. I am here to tell you it doesn’t. All you have to do is take small tiptoes forward towards your end result, not massive leaps. Take the pressure off of yourself and throw out the overwhelm. You’ve got this.
You’ve made plans and now you are stressed to the max thinking about how you are going to get there. While keeping your dream in mind, let go of the need to know every single step it is going to take to get to the end result. All you need to focus on is your very next move. Forget the rest. Who cares how you get there as long as you do. Allow yourself to flow and be flexible and trust that you know all you need to know right now.
Related Reading: 5 Things that Happen When You Take a Leap of Faith
You Try to Enforce Your Deadlines
Do this and I can almost guarantee you that you will end up in a big ball of frustration. One thing I have learned is that trying to force things to happen doesn’t work. The universe has much bigger plans for us that we realize and the timing of things is divine. When you attempt to muscle your way through to achieving your dream, you block opportunities that the universe sends your way.
And when you block opportunities that are *just* what you needed to get you to your dream, you think you aren’t good enough or that this is never going to work for you so you quit. You give up working towards your goal because you can’t see what is right in front of you.
It’s not the deadline that’s the problem, it’s the not allowing for something better to come along that’s the issue. I encourage you to have an idea of when you want to achieve something and then ask for that or something better.
For example: I want to own my house in 5 years. I would like this or something better. By doing this, you take the pressure off of yourself and strip away the frustration you may feel when it doesn’t happen the way you want it to. Who knows if the reason you didn’t get that house is because at 5 years and 1 day, you are offered your dream job traveling the world and owning a house would not allow you to accept it. But if you only focused on how you are a failure for not owning a house in your 5 year deadline so you hole up and drink yourself to oblivion, you will never meet the person who is going to offer you the job. The universe knows what it’s doing. Trust it.
Procrastination is Your Middle Name
I procrastinate when I am overwhelmed. Or when I don’t want to do something or don’t think I can do it perfectly. Thinking about how to get from Point A (your current situation in life) to Point B (owning a yacht and traveling the world full time) can be enough to make you not want to start.
Procrastination when referring to working towards a dream usually happens because you don’t think you can do it (see limiting beliefs and mindset above). And when you procrastinate, you push off what needs to happen to reach your goal. Which leaves you right where you started.
Look at what you want to do. How can you break those goals up into bite size pieces? Take the lid off the pressure cooker and don’t jump in feet first. Dip your toe in and test the water. This isn’t a race but you also want to at least leave the start line. Go at your pace but make sure you are inching forward.
Final Thoughts on Reaching Your Dream
If you can dream it, you can do it.
The dream you desire is entirely attainable, you simply need to uncover what is blocking your path. Knowing what is stopping you is the first step and following up with the necessary action is the next. Engage in self-compassion as you navigate what will most likely not be a smooth path. Understand that any action forward is better than no action at all.
I believe in you.
Proud introvert, intuitive entrepreneur, and spiritual activist. On a mission to embolden my fellow introverts to quietly change the world.