I’ve been asked more often than I initially expected what I thought are the main reasons for a person to not succeed.
What gets in the way of success?
Though I used the word “failure” in the title, I’m not very fond of the word – failure is only a construct of our minds. There isn’t a final, definable state of failure we can achieve, with the lone exception being when you decide to give up. Any hiccup can be reversed or altered into success. The only person that decides whether you are a failure is you. Below are five, in no particular order, stumbling blocks that I’ve seen cripple what should have been an otherwise great outcome.
1. Limiting Beliefs
You’re going to see a lot of bullcrap in society. People will pretend to know what success looks like and try to force that image upon you. You’ll have friends and family that may believe they are well-intentioned in telling you that your idea is garbage or that you need to model your success off of theirs. Commercials and news remind us of this concept of “measurable success” – it’s nearly unavoidable.
Here’s the deal: I have friends that only just barely make it, live paycheck-to-paycheck, and have no security in their work. But they love what they do. They enjoy life, they have fun, and they build memories and experience out of their opportunities. Are their families in love with their work? No, not at all. At some point they had to let go of what everyone around them thought and start plugging away.
People limit themselves by wholly accepting what people around them say. Be aware of advice, certainly, but remember that you are where the buck stops when it comes to what you should do in the future. Broaden your horizons, don’t weaken them.
2. Lack of Actualization
It’s easy to just talk about starting a blog or starting a business. It’s mental fantasizing at it’s finest. Think of all the times you’ve imagined being a millionaire. Imagine what you would do with all of that money. Now actualize being a millionaire. Do something that will make you have that amount of money. Scary, isn’t it? There’s a fine line between imagination and reality.
Actualize the things you think about. If you want to write, write something. If you want to draw, draw something. The moment you have something tangible in front of you is the moment it leaves your brain and enters reality. That’s a major first step. Each step from there is rooted in the concrete – not your head – and that’s the only way success can even be on the table.
3. No Focus
The idea that it takes multiple resources, money, talent, and skill holds many people off from taking a risk. Some people are comfortable with maintaining the current situation than attempting something better. You have to start somewhere – that means writing out the tools necessary and obtaining them. That means getting connected and networking with people that can assist you. That means doing research on what opportunities are available. That means sending a resume to every possible job of interest. That means pressing forward through awkward and uncertain times.
The person who lacks the focus to do these things may have great ideas, but ideas are worthless without decisive action.
4. Being Afraid of Failure
This seems backwards – a fear of failure can result in failure? Absolutely. There is no final, ultimate concept of failure. George Foreman had his last championship reign in his forties. Companies that file for bankruptcy can eventually become hugely successful. “Failure” is a temporary concept. Failure is a setback, a speedbump, a temporary stop from long-term success. Failures can lead to successes. My mistakes in life have often taught me more about myself than my successes. Accept that failure is a possibility – and accept that you can learn from it. An extreme fear of failure can be so crippling that it may stop you from taking risks that are often necessary to succeed – or from acting at all.
5. Lack of Networking
A major setback in a goal is not admitting or considering what we don’t know. When my mom was in the beginning stages of opening a small business she was not familiar with the way business loans worked. Instead of stopping there, she networked. She connected with some friends that had familiarity with what went into it and found out about some of the resources she would need. She also discovered some exemptions she would be able to apply under that she would have never known about if she wasn’t pointed in the right direction. People with a social network have access to the talents and knowledge of the people around them. Those connections might seem minor – maybe it’s a person you bumped into at a bar – but they can often be incredibly useful in getting in finding the knowledge and resources you need.
6. Refusal to Adapt to Circumstances
Though simple in description, it is one of the more broad reasons provided. Many people find comfort in the repetitive and predictable patterns of their lives. If that’s your thing and you can truly say you feel satisfied I’m not going to knock that. However, when you’re trying to broaden and expand your horizon, there will always be a level of risk and uncertainty. Many people stop themselves short of taking a risk. Other people let slip-ups and mistakes weigh them down to the degree that they give up. Being flexible to the twisting and turning nature of life is necessary to be able to truly succeed and move above your current state.
As we work hard to meet deadlines and hit our goals, paperwork and schedules can quickly rise up. Disorganization can be a huge setback. Losing important information, contacts, tax info, or missing appointments can destroy our reputations and kill our motivation. Disorganization is usually a solid indicator of whether someone is truly passionate about what they are doing. If you’re feeling like you aren’t the most organized person, a pen and paper are your best friend. Write down you goals, the items you need, the resources, and contact information. Keep your schedule written down and check it regularly. If you’re forgetful, let your notebook do the hard work for you. Also, keep a file with all relevant information in it – you don’t want your social security information to mysteriously go missing.
8. Fear of Risks
We all need to admit the truth: we are scared, to some degree, of taking risks. Is it frightening to start a business when there’s no certainty that it will be a success? Absolutely. I know both men and women that turned down relationships with people they legitimately liked because they didn’t want to risk getting hurt again. There is a great amount of fear that comes with dealing in the unknown. Should it stop us? I believe as long as the potential benefits outweigh the cost, it shouldn’t. I’ve never quite understood this fear on a logical level. Life is not a guarantee. Not to be morbid, but every day, when we get in out cars, there is a chance we might not make it home – yet we don’t let it stop us. We take risks every day by even going outside. Why stop the risks there? Take a chance. If we only live once, then maybe we should start taking chances like we do.
9. Unrealistic Expectations
Unrealistic expectations result in endgame failure. What I mean by that is when we set the bar absurdly high with a short amount of time to meet our own expectations, we disappoint ourselves greatly. Do you have what it takes to be a millionaire? I would say absolutely. Do you have what it takes to be a millionaire by tomorrow? If you do, why are you still reading? As I’ve mentioned before, I tried multiple times to lose weight before I managed to. A big part of why was because I made my expectations incredibly unrealistic. I expected to lose five to ten pounds every week. When I got on the scale and had only lost one, maybe two total, I felt completely burnt out. It was only when I realized that it would take time and dedication that I managed to commit myself to succeeding. So keep your long-term dreams high, but keep your short-term ones in check.
10. Lack of Integrity
Are you deceitful, conceited, or dishonest? Do you believe that people worm their way to the top by manipulating the people around them? While there are always exceptions, cheaters usually never prosper. Make no mistake, there are jerks at the top, but they are usually pretty honest about being a jerk. Why is integrity so important? People network. Word gets around fast. If you’ve built yourself a reputation as taking advantage of other people, it will put a label on you faster than the blink of an eye. Be honest, be assertive, be aggressive in your pursuits, but never be disingenuous.
The tricky part about failure is re-examining what failure actually means. I tried to lose weight six different times before I found a formula, method, and diet that worked. Each of those “failures”, as I look back, were all steps in the right direction. I learned exercise techniques, I realized my limits, and I realized that what I was doing was not working. Failures should be a means by which we reflect on our mistakes – they should never be the end point of our paths. You will learn more about yourself and what not to do next time with each and every failure. You will gain useful knowledge that can be applied in your next project. You may be able to work from a previous experiment and re-use it in a new way. The only moment you fail is when you sell yourself short and say that there is no way you can progress further – and it’s also a huge lie.
So put it all on the line. Be smart, do research, but be willing to make a few mistakes, too. No idea is perfect the moment it is conceived, but one day it might just be immaculate.