Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Top 3 Excuses for Not Chasing Your Dream (and Why It All Comes Down to Fear)

For the longest time, I wouldn’t chase my dream. I’d regularly give objections for why I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do. And it ate me up inside.

Why We Don't Chase Our Dreams

Photo Credit: spartanjoe via Compfight cc

We all face the same excuses in moving towards our dreams, and when we stare those enemies down, they become powerless — or at least a lot less intimidating. Here are the top three excuses we use for not chasing our dreams.

“I don’t know what it is.”

This really means, “I don’t have it all figured out yet.” Which is another way of saying, “I’m human.”

Join the club. Who does have it all figured out? The idea that “you just know” what you’re supposed to do with your life is a myth. You don’t just know. You act, anyway. Discovery is a product of decision. Your dream will appear when you take action.

“I’m not ready.”

This just isn’t true. You’re more ready than you think. Your whole life has been preparing you for what’s to come. What’s easy for you isn’t easy for everyone. The things you find effortless and easy are sometimes clues to your calling.

When you begin to answer those clues, clarity comes. So does confidence. No, it’s not easy but you don’t need to have it all figured out. You can act on what you know. And in that respect, you’re always ready for something.

“I can’t afford it.”

The world doesn’t owe you anything, and money doesn’t always follow passion. You’ll have to work to earn your keep when it comes to chasing a dream, and it won’t always be easy or lucrative.

But in the end, the sacrifice will be worth the journey. And it costs far less than you think to take the first step.

What’s really behind the excuses

When we say these things are keeping us from our calling, what we’re really saying is we’re afraid. And that’s completely understandable.

Excuses

Fear is a normal reaction to decisions that require change. But what I’ve learned from those who’ve found their dreams is they never stopped feeling fear.

Courage isn’t about overcoming fear. It’s about doing it afraid.

While we’re on the subject of fear, have you considered an even greater fear than that of failure or rejection? What happens if you stay stuck doing something you were never meant to do, if you settle for a life that is comfortable and good — but not great? What if you succeed at the wrong things?

Fear isn’t always a bad thing. The trick is to fear the right thing. Don’t be afraid of losing; be afraid of playing the wrong game. And I think we can all agree that staying stuck in a job you hate, complaining about your situation and saying you don’t know, aren’t ready, or can’t afford it is not the right game.

Reminder: My new book, The Art of Work, which is all about chasing your dream the smart way, launched last week. If you order it now, you’ll get $250 in free bonuses. Click here to find out more.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Ann @LiveGrowWrite

    EXACTLY what I needed to read today! It does come down to fear. And some how, correctly naming it reduces its power. Thank you Jeff!

  • Maisy T

    This is something that I needed to read today; for me I know that fear (of a lot of things) holds me back but reading that and having it broken down for me the way you did was really helpful. Thank you.

  • Yes! It does have to do with fear. And I agree that fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but rather something we question before believing in.

  • Discovery is a product of decision. Excellent! Discovering our dream can be hard, but the
    really hard part can be admitting it once we’ve discovered it. Great suggestion
    about playing the right game once you’re there.

  • Jeff- your line “what if you succeed at the wrong things?” is particularly insightful. I know successful people who don’t enjoy what they’re doing. So, are they really successful or has fear made them settle? I suspect the latter.

    • Lori Woodward

      Hi John, I think you’re right. Some people avoid risk atnthe cost of being unhappy. Then there are a few people who wouldn’t be happy in any job. People who seek a better fit are those who are wanting to be more content.

    • Agreed.

  • Your dream will appear when you take action. GOOD quote from you Jeff! I’m out pursing and not making excuses. 🙂

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    This one post has umpteen quotable quotes – thanks Jeff! <3

  • Kathy

    I can identify with the three excuses for not pursuing my dream. I keep looking at the work of my other friends who have a flair for writing. My expectation to be like them causes me to procrastinate,and then when I submit writing it reads poorly. If I keep making excuses for what I produce, I will undermine my creativity as well as stunt my growth as a writer. Thanks for this push to just put the past behind and pursue my dream.

  • Humayun Mujahid

    Can’t
    agree more to “Your dream will appear when you take action.” It’s 100% true. We
    keep procrastinating things on one excuse or the other. Time flies by fast
    leaving us surrounded by frosts & fogs of thoughts we grope through feeling
    helpless. A man appeared at our work place, a new colleague. In a few days
    time, we developed a great deal of intimacy. I observed he was a man of quick
    action and had lots of ideas to share with, and listened to others and me with extra ordinary attention. One day, I told him I had a small project in mind but had been
    delaying it for different excuses for the last many years. I then shared with him the essence/the main idea upon I observed a flash of getting startled across his face. Soon, I forgot about that. Two weeks passed
    when one day he revealed to me with a broad smile on his face that he had
    successfully launched that same project and was now busy enjoying the
    fruit. I was dumbfounded.

  • This is a fantastic article! Writing for a living’s often rough, but it can be done. I really appreciate that you actually mentioned the cost; that the world does not owe you, and it might not be lucrative . . . at least at first. By my calculations, the decision to become a writer over what I went to college and grad school for has cost me (conservatively) a quarter of a million dollars in the last five years–and I don’t regret a cent of it, because I went in knowing that was a likely outcome. I appreciate that you didn’t bury this in some, “And if you subscribe to my blog, you’ll be pulling in six figures next year!” claim.

    Kudos!

  • Abdur Rahim

    I appreciate your blog thanks for sharing your this post. Awesome idea and you have represent it awesomely. I am really impressed with the quality of article. rehab ny

  • I seriously smiled throughout this whole #truthbomb of a post, Jeff! This is a fantastic article that definitely spoke to me because it’s something I’m working on every day. Will be sharing this like crazy! Thanks for your insight!

  • “I’m not ready” is the excuse I tend to use to much. As a perfectionist (I know it’s a bad thing, and I’m working on it) I tend to want to have ALL the information before I can start with something. However, I recently re-launched my blog without having the design and all the pages done. That’s progress for me.

  • James Buchanan

    Of the people I work with as a writing coach or to help publish, the biggest issue is always thinking one of two things: I’m not ready or good enough. Really, these are two sides of the same coin and come down to getting over the inner critic and taking the first step. There’s plenty of advice out there saying don’t be afraid to fail (it’s cliche by now), but the problem is for many people they have no problem saying it to someone else, but not following it themselves.

    What I tell people going through this is what I tell myself (and is the best writing advice I’ve ever heard, so much so I tattooed it on my arm) write just one true sentence. This works if you are stuck with the first blank page of a manuscript, transition, or whatever. Simply focus on writing one true sentence. It also works for book proposals, marketing materials and everything else. Start with a single true sentence and follow it with another.

    Best,
    James (www.orchardwriting.com)

  • Jeff, thank you for this post! As I was reading it (at 3 a.m. on my phone), I knew it was for me.
    Almost 83 – physically challenged . . . determined to complete my blog. . . a book written and waiting for me to learn the best way to edit and publish it . . . plus other projects.
    My brain and body hit a “slow down.” I had no idea why, until I read your post.

    Fear – not of writing: but will I have the time and strength to finish these projects? So much I want to learn! will I succeed?
    Now, as I face this fear, it has to dimiinish its influence in my life. I will trust God and keep going ahead. I am thankful!
    Keep up with your posts!

  • Agreed!

    Overall the conclusion comes to one line – Go on with all your insecurities.

    As usual – Great Jeff!

  • Lol, love the post. People have such great ideas, but decide to sleep on it. I feel like things are changing a bit though.

  • I read this Article because I wanted to see if I fitted in as a person who is allowing my dreams to fall by the waste side. “I can’t afford it” is my excuse. However, after reading this article I will not allow lack of money to hold me back….Moving Forward!

  • dandy trooper

    Another thing that people often fear is gatekeepers. They don’t realize that the Internet has removed them. You can get to where you want because everything is now an open road.

  • “Don’t be afraid of losing; be afraid of playing the wrong game.” So so true.

  • Wole Kush

    Awesome write up!