“What’s stopping you?”

People tend to open up to me and tell me their concerns and dreams. They talk to me about what they want to be doing, instead of what they are doing at that time. A while ago, I read a self-help book to get through my own troubles, and one of the things I’ve taken away from it tends to work wonders when I try to help others.

So I listen to the person’t hopes and dreams, and desires for a better life. If they haven’t said it before, I ask them what they’d rather be doing. Then comes the “whammy” question.

“What’s stopping you?”

Inevitably there will be a list of excuses and reasons as to why they aren’t pursuing their dreams, but I point out that these are just that. Excuses. Roadblocks. Often self-inflicted out of fear, or a desire to remain complacent, or a sense of inadequacy. In fact, I would say that 90% of the time, the reason why people aren’t pursuing their dreams is because they’re holding themselves back. Some of the most common excuses, and my answers are these:

  1. Excuse: “I don’t have the right education, or degree.”

Answer: I like to tell people a brief story about Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple Computers. Do you know how much schooling and education he received? One day. He attended classes for one day, decided that a college education sucked, and dropped out. He didn’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a degree. True, there are a few industries where a college education is useful – for example, medicine – but if you’ve got the right idea and the will to carry it out, don’t let the lack of a formal education keep you from pursuing it.

2. Excuse: “I don’t have enough money.”

Answer: The rags-to-riches story is practically an American institution. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories about people who have come to this country with nothing but pocket change and the clothes on their backs. Or who are born into poverty. And they don’t let this serve as an excuse to make something of themselves! So why should you? Start from the ground up and see where you go from there. You might be surprised with what you can accomplish.

3. Excuse: “I don’t think I’ll succeed.”

Answer: You won’t know until you try. There are a lot of other stories of people who have failed repeatedly, and didn’t let that slow them down either. For example, Babe Ruth held the home run record for a long time… as well as the record for largest number of strike-outs. Thomas Edison has often been (incorrectly) quoted as saying, in regards to developing the light bulb, “I haven’t failed 1,000 times. I’ve just discovered 1,000 ways that didn’t work.” J. K. Rowling said that she received “loads” f rejection letters before a publisher finally decided to take a chance on a novel featuring a boy named “Harry Potter.”

I remember another story I heard a while back about a millionaire business owner who received a diagnosis that he only had a year to live. So he sold off his business and spent the year traveling. By the time the year was done, he was flat broke… and the doctors told him “whoops. We made a mistake. You’re not sick after all.” Instead of despairing about his lost fortune, he simply started another business. A year later, he was a millionaire again. So even if you don’t succeed, persevere. Learn from your mistakes and experiences. If you keep at it, eventually you’ll succeed.

4. Excuse: “I’m being held back because of my race / gender / sexuality / whatever.”

Answer: See my response to number 2. There are hundred, if not thousands, of stories of people who managed to overcome any adversity in order to achieve success. The only person that really is holding you back is yourself.

5. Excuse: “But no matter how hard I try, I can’t make my horse grow wings and fly.”

Answer: … I can’t help you with that one. You’re on your own.

But as long as your dream isn’t impossible (or highly unlikely, like developing the ability to teleport yourself to the moon and live), then you can accomplish it. All it takes is the right idea, and plenty of hard work and perseverance.

Even though I’ve given this advice to a lot of people, I’ve only recently started to take it myself. This blog is part of it. Hey, maybe we can help each other achieve our dreams?

So… what’s stopping you? And what are you going to do to remove those obstacles in order to live the life you really want?



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