The 5 Most Common Reasons People Fail At Achieving Their Dreams

Neil Armstrong, Ellen DeGeneres, J.K. Rowling — all very successful people who've struggled with depression in their lives, successfully. Here's how.

“If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan.”
 ~ Terence McKenna Click To Tweet

One of the funniest viral videos I’ve ever seen was a recent motivational video by the actor Shia Labouf, in which he rants relentlessly about following your dreams. He gives a very sporadic, odd, impassioned performance that also, surprisingly, happens to be very insightful and energizing.

So what makes it motivational rather than straightforwardly laughable? It was his passionate delivery of the words: “just do it, make your dreams come true!” and according to Shia the only thing that’s holding anyone back from achieving their dreams is the dreamer themselves. 

This is very often true. Yet there are other factors at play as well.

Because everyone can’t be Shia Labouf, here are 5 of the most common reasons people fail at achieving their dreams…

1) A Lack Of Clarity About What Their Dreams Actually Are

Sometimes people set out to go after something with only a foggy perception of what they actually want to achieve. This is a good starting point, but not necessarily a good ending point.

Perhaps they want to be rich and famous, or make billions of dollars, or change the world. Great! However, if they have no real clarity on how they’re going to get from point A to point B, it’s an issue.

2) Lack Of Patience/ Persistence 

Nothing comes easy/ happens overnight. The person that claims to have had things happen easily/overnight is either lying, is experiencing unexpected and rare luck/good fortune, or they’re just plain privileged and are lucky enough to have the world handed to them on a daily basis.

These people, however, remain the exception and not the rule.

A good example of  the perseverance it takes to make your wildest dreams come true is J. K Rowling, the author of the popular Harry Potter series. As a suicidal, single mom on state benefits, her manuscript for the initial book in the series was rejected by a dozen publishers before finally being picked up in 1996.

We all know what happened next.

3) Extenuating, Excusable & “Unpreventable” Circumstances

Sometimes life gets in the way and makes our dreams seem challenging, if not impossible to accomplish, and that’s okay. Along the way there are often mouths to feed, bills to pay, and other responsibilities to pay attention to, and unfortunately this doesn’t always coincide with the fulfillment of dreams or goals.

In the midst of such circumstances, it can often seem impossible to put in the work necessary to accomplish your goals, but not if you’re flexible. Even in the middle of a very busy life, there is time being wasted, unnecessary excuses being made, and a lot of over-reaction taking place.

Learning to widen your vision a little and go with the flow will reveal pockets of time you didn’t think you had before. Use them wisely and you’ll eventually turn baby steps into adult bounds, and be well on your way.

4) External/Internal Influences

Influences include everything from a person’s lack of belief in themselves, to the influences of lovers, friends, family, pop culture, and the place they live in or come from.

Oftentimes what people think is plausible — or what they believe to be right and wrong — on a personal level, can shift and change as they get older, but the influence of a person’s social circle and family often follows them throughout their entire life, profoundly affecting their overall values.

Very rarely is this a good thing.

If you do the research, you find that many of the people who achieved their dreams did so with a type of tunnel vision that blocked out the limiting influences of their social circle and culture. They had unerring faith, despite their community and everyone closest to them telling them otherwise.

5) Lack Of Practical Plans 

As amazing as it is to actually dream about your dream, the reality is that every dream needs a practical means of making it work, so that you can get by in the world while working towards achieving the things that matter to you.

For instance: if you sing or write poetry, and want an audience, perhaps you could teach music, poetry, or literature while writing and recording your first album. If you think about it for even a small while, there are any number of things you could likely fit into your life that require similar skills; meanwhile, you could take advantage of the advice in point number 3 to write that best-seller or record that hit debut as you develop your craft.

Regardless, the frustrating but undeniable truth is that you need to be grounded first if you want to see your dreams take off. If there’s a lack of balance, in terms of practicality vs. inner desires, whatever dream you have will end up swept under the carpet, and overlooked.

About The Author

Rosemary Richings is one of Content Company Toronto’s writers that works with local companies, on various web writing and blog writing projects. She’s also a freelance writer that writes mostly web content for websites, online magazines, and businesses. Rosemary is an ongoing contributor to Digital Journal, Narcity Toronto, Jewish Business News, Career Addict,, and Lokafy, a travel focused start-up’s blog. For more information, and regular updates on Rosemary’s freelance writing projects visit her website:, and follow her on twitter: @rosiemay_r