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What’s Keeping You From Chasing Your Dreams?

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Chasing Your Dreams

Does it ever seems like something is holding you back from chasing your dreams?  Whether those dreams and goals are financial goals, career goals, aspirations to have better health, better relationships or better anything, do you ever feel like you’re stuck between wanting those things and being able to take the necessary steps to get there?

I can identify.

For years we wanted to have a better financial life.  We wanted to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, to beef up our savings and retirement, and to be free of the bondage of too much debt.  However, it took nearly 15 years from the time we decided we wanted those things until we actually started taking concrete steps to get there.  Has that ever happened to you?  Or, are you still in the stage where you know what you want but you haven’t made that commitment to do what needs to be done to reach your goal?  Today we’re going to talk about some of the things that might be holding you back from chasing your dreams, and what you can do about those roadblocks.

Fear of Chasing Your Dreams and Failing

I think part of the reason it took my husband and I so long to start on our journey to debt freedom and financial independence is because we were afraid to fail.  Several times in the past we’d start budgets, but we’d never make it last past the first week.  Why?  Because any time we spent money, we felt like we failed.  As if it was no use trying to reach our goal because we knew in our hearts we weren’t going to succeed.  The fact of the matter is that we didn’t have any faith in ourselves and our ability to stick with our goal to completion.

How did we fix that?  Well, we lowered our standards, in a sense.  We decided in our hearts that even if we could make it 10% of the way to our goal, it was better than nothing.  We took the pressure off of ourselves to win the war, and focused on winning the battles, so to speak.  We first committed to make it through one day of spending wisely.  Then we challenged ourselves to spend wisely for a month. Soon, the small successes we saw started to be contagious, and we realized that we had a lot more strength, smarts and perseverance than we thought we did.

If you’re afraid to start chasing your dreams because you’re afraid to fail, try setting the bar a bit lower and pursuing a smaller dream, an easier goal, and then move up from there.

Fear of Success

Another reason it took Rick and I so long to start pursuing our dream of financial independence is because we were afraid to succeed. I know that must sound silly, but think of it this way: any time you find yourself chasing your dreams, and then completing that dream or goal, there’s a whole new kind of pressure that can come along with that success.

For instance, when one reaches a goal of being debt free, they’re going to have to learn how to keep living a life of debt freedom, only with a whole lot more money available to spend. They’re going to have to challenge themselves not to go on a crazy spending spree. Why? Because being in a secure situation, financially for instance, can breed a false sense of security.

Several times in the past Rick and I had been at a point where we had paid off all of our consumer debt, and every time, what followed was a very carefree attitude about money. We told ourselves that it was okay that we charge $1,000 because that would be easy to pay off or that it was okay to spend all of our money because we had no debt, and if an emergency came we could just use the credit card.

When we started our debt payoff journey this time, we were afraid of success in a different way. We knew we had the perseverance to reach our goals, but we were afraid in a way of losing the life we love. We were afraid of losing relationships with people we know who identify with us because they’re struggling financially, and we were afraid that people might not feel the same about us if we’d reached our goal of financial independence.

How did we overcome this?

Well, we set checkpoints, so to speak, in place to conquer those fears. For instance, regarding our fear of losing relationships because of our changing money status, we resolved not to mention our road to debt freedom to anyone unless they specifically asked us for our thoughts or advice regarding money. With another fear, a fear of become jerks if we became wealthy, we committed within our family that if we saw one another becoming prideful or arrogant, we’d call the person on it. By setting checkpoints in place to conquer the fears about success you might have, you move those roadblocks out of the way, leaving you free to keep chasing your dreams.

You’re Not Ready

Another thing that might be keeping you from chasing your dreams is that you simply don’t want those dreams bad enough. It’s been said that when the fear of staying the same is bigger than the fear of change, it’s only then that we’ll have the strength we need to make the changes we want to make. If you’re having trouble chasing your dreams, maybe it’s because you don’t want it bad enough.

How do you fix that? Well, it might be time to have an honest conversation with yourself. How important is chasing your dreams to you?  Do you really want debt freedom, or are you, deep down, okay with making just the minimum payments every month?  Do you really want to be healthier, or is your evening snack of ice cream and chips more important?  There’s no right or wrong answer here, but really, there’s no point in pursuing a goal of being debt free if you really don’t care that you have debt, so why pressure yourself to pursue dreams that might be somebody else’s and not yours? This is the time when you have to sit down with yourself and decide what dreams are truly important to you. Draw that line in the sand, decide what you truly want, and then make the commitment to dump the dreams that aren’t important to you and to focus on reaching the ones that mean the most to you. This will help ensure that you succeed at chasing your dreams, provided they really are the dreams and goals that mean the most to you. If you’re having trouble reaching your goals, decide today to diagnose the roadblocks that are keeping you from taking positive steps toward reaching those goals, and then go for it.  I know you can do it.

 

Have you ever had a dream in your heart that seemed unreachable?  What did you do about it? Is paying off debt one of your dreams? If not, what dream do you want to chase? If you’re not chasing your dreams now, what’s holding you back?

 

Photo courtesy of: Ignacio Palomo Duarte

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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.

34 Comments

  • I have definitely had an issue with feeling I was not ready for tackling my dreams. I think devaluing our self worth is common and the only person it hurts is us. And even after lots of thought and planning, when I left my job to pursue my dream of starting my own company, I still feared that I wasn’t ready, but took the leap anyway. And I am so thankful that I did. It is a scary ride, but at least I am pursuing my dreams along the way. 🙂

    • Great point, Shannon, and I think too that as we take those leaps, our confidence builds so that we’re ready to take more leaps. Once we realize that we’re surviving through that scary ride, we start to understand that we’re more resilient and powerful than we might have previously thought. 🙂

  • We badly want to pay off our debt. The debt mountain seems huge right now, but we are trying to take it day by day and paycheck by paycheck (with every paycheck we send extra payments toward our student loans). What held us back for a long time was complacence. “Everyone has student loan debt so it must be normal” was our downfall. Thankfully we’ve now decided that we are no longer interested in being like “everyone!”

  • I think it’s pretty ingrained in our culture to fear failing, but in reality failures are a part of life and are inevitable. I think fear of the unknown prevents people from chasing their dreams, too. It’s much easier to stay in the same pattern versus putting yourself out there and making changes that might not work out exactly how you plan.

  • For me, fear of success is huge. I always feel overwhelmed by what I’m doing and I worry that I’ll take on too much.

  • debt debs says:

    We just dreamed. Never made a plan and never executed. Just kept going on the treadmill thinking it was going where we wanted. Ignorance is not bliss.

  • Dave Lalonde says:

    Similar to Shannon, I left my full time job to run a business in the auto industry with my brother. It was a scary call and it really made me put a lot of faith in what I was doing. Thankfully, it was the best decision I have ever made. The dream itself isn’t scary. Chasing after it, is.

  • I too have a high fear of failure. A perfectionist, I suppose. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I realized I haven’t ever failed at anything. What fun is that? How many great people can say that?? Probably none of them. Great success comes after great failures.

    I like this quote by Michael Jordan…

    “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

  • I feel that way on a pretty minor scale for sure. Not really too much about finances, but about career. I feel there is so much more I want to be doing, but what exactly I don’t know. I have glimpses of what I want, but then for some reason I don’t make time to follow through. I feel like my dreams are grander than my abilities. But I’m taking baby steps to try to move towards various things, like taking a toastmasters class. Ive been talking about it forever, or learning French. Great post!

  • Great post Laurie! Heard a wonderful quote recently: “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” It’s so true. I admire the bloggers who took a leap of faith and succeeded when chasing their dreams. Sometimes I feel like my job is comfortable and there are golden handcuffs (pension and benefits) which makes it difficult to leave…but I also don’t know if this is where I want to spend the next 20 some odd years of my life.

    • LOVE that quote, Andrew, and I know what you mean about the golden handcuffs. Rick’s in a similar position. He doesn’t make a ton, by American standards, but he makes more than he’s ever made, and that makes it more difficult to think about leaving for the unknown. Time will tell, for both of you. 🙂

  • Hey Laurie, paying off debt isn’t necessarily a dream for me because I’m not really in debt. However, I have a big dream of marrying my fiance and starting my family. I think the biggest thing holding us back there is my business. Of course, it will help us succeed in that dream soon, but for now, I’m dumping time and money into this thing. I never thought of the fear of success, I wonder if on a subliminal level, that may be holding us back as well. Great post as always Laurie!

  • E.M. says:

    I did have a fear of failing, mostly because I do hold myself to very high standards. As you did, I had to lower the bar for myself and set mini-goals. It doesn’t help when we set ourselves up for failure. I’ve also been struggling with not being ready in the same sense Tonya described. I’m really not sure what I want out of life at this point, but I’m working my way toward finding out.

    • I think that perfectionist attitude, which it sounds like you have a bit of in you as well, can be really damaging sometimes. I never thought I’d feel better about myself when I was working to be less perfect, but it’s happened that way. Abandoning my perfectionism has freed me up to be okay with making mistakes. 🙂

  • I really want to start my own small business of clothing. But I’m afraid that it won’t click because of high competency.. One of my closest friends told me that if I don’t give it a shot, then how would I know if I fail or succeed. Maybe, in the future if I do have a courage to make it happen and start my own business.

  • Us Millennials will often beat ourselves up when it comes to success and moving forward because we are constantly bombarded and reminded by Baby Boomers and popular media that we are undeserving, that we are underachieving, and that we got lucky. That’s my motivation in chasing my dreams, proving them wrong and that many of us are capable, maybe more than them.

  • Kim says:

    I think fear of what others will think of you was a huge one for us. We felt we had to live a certain lifestyle and everyone we knew had debt, so going against the grain was difficult. I’ve learned that it’s OK not to broadcast your plans to everyone if they don’t want to hear it and it makes them uncomfortable. Everyone has to follow their own path, even if I think someone else’s might be wrong!

  • This is the second time this week that I’ve read about a fear of success, and I didn’t even know it existed before. I don’t think I’m afraid of success, though I do have some reservations about some aspects of it. I think I do engage in self sabotage now and again, though that is likely due to a fear of failure rather than of success. In fact, I know I have a strong tendency to fear failure. It definitely holds me back.

  • I always believe that I can achieve my dreams. That may all be because I only set goals that I can achieve, but sometimes I do dream of things I may not achieve just because I enjoy doing it.

  • Taylor says:

    The first fear is spot on for me and my husband. There’s always that time when we do really good and then we drift off. I’m having that struggle right now. We did REALLY well paying off my student loan this month and now I can feel ourselves slipping. Mostly eating out too much. We’re monitoring it for sure because we don’t want to give up the progress that we’ve mad so far!

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