12 Reasons You Don’t Have the Life You Want (Yet!)

12 Reasons You Don’t Have the Life You Want (Yet!)

Ever wonder how you can be doing all of the right things (most of the time!), working so hard, and still feel like you’re getting nowhere? Are you starting to doubt the life you dreamed is even possible? Even worse, are you beginning to settle because you don’t believe you can have the life you dreamed? Before you give up, read on and see if you’re making any of these common mistakes.

1.    You’re staying in your comfort zone.

Your comfort zone includes everything you have that is easy and safe. What’s wrong with that? The problem is, all of your unmet goals and dreams are outside of your comfort zone. And if you want to achieve them, you will have to face situations that are awkward, difficult, and scary. Avoid discomfort and you’ll miss out on what you really want.

Related: Overachiever's Guide to Wasting Your Youth

2.    You’re avoiding risk.

Successful people are not necessarily smarter, more talented, or working harder than everyone else (although those things don’t hurt!). What all successful people have in common, though, is that they’re willing to take risks. Sure, taking risks leads to failure sometimes, but avoiding risk holds you back from your dreams. 

3.    You’re afraid to fail.

This one is classic. We’re scared to fail, so we hold back when we really need to be going all in. Instead of focusing on the reasons you can’t do something, think of some reasons that you can and put them on repeat. You might surprise yourself!

Related: Beginner's Guide: How to Fail the Right Way (Seriously!)

4.    You’re quitting too soon.

There are a lot reasons we quit before we’re ahead: fear of failure, lack of confidence, frustration, lack of discipline. Chasing your dreams is going to be awkward, difficult, and scary. Those feelings are not necessarily a sign that something is wrong; it’s just a sign that you’ve left your comfort zone. It’s not a failure until you quit. Give it another shot!

Related: 5 Successful Failure to Inspire You

5.    You underestimate yourself.

It’s amazing how quick we are to discredit ourselves. Remember, successful people aren’t smarter, more talented, or working harder than you. They’re simply willing to take a risk and keep pushing through their failures. Why couldn’t you do the same? (Hint: You can!)

6.    You’re bullying yourself.

When we get upset, our brains create negative thoughts that can hold us back if we believe them. How to fight back? Write down those thoughts and look at them logically. If they are not 100% true, edit them. Chances are, the edited version is more tolerable. Ex: “I’m going to die alone” becomes “I will probably be in a relationship someday, but if not, I still have people who care about me.”

Related: How to Beat the Bully in Your Head in 5 Easy Steps

7.    You’re a perfectionist.

What’s wrong with trying to be best? Besides the fact that it’s impossible and exhausting? How about this: Researchers compared audience ratings of a speaker delivering a flawless presentation with ratings of the same speaker delivering the same presentation with mistakes. Which presentation got the higher score? The one with the flaws of course! Don’t be surprised. Think of that “perfect” girl you went to high school with. Did you like her? Probably not, right? Flaws make us approachable, relatable, likeable even. Besides, the pressures of trying to be perfect make us irritable and boring. And you can’t impress people if they don’t want to be around you.

Related: How to Stop Being a Perfectionist and Love Who You Are

8.    You’re focusing on the negative.

There is no faster way to kill the joy in your life than to focus on what’s missing. Celebrating what you already have not only makes you feel happier now, but also trains your brain to look for opportunities and solutions in difficult situations in the future. Start documenting the good things in your life. Start a journal, post pictures on Instagram, or download a gratitude app. It makes a big difference!

9.    You’re putting other people first.

Isn’t it a good thing to put others first? Not if it makes you resentful for giving up the life you really want! Yes, family and friends are important, but so are you. The Golden Rule is “Love your neighbor AS you love yourself, not MORE THAN you love yourself.” Take care of yourself the same way you take care of others, and see how much more joy you find in life.

10. You’re wasting time.

Time is limited, which makes it a precious commodity. Literally keep track of how you spend your time in an average day. Does it reflect your goals? The average American watches 5 hours of TV per day. Wouldn’t a workout, painting class, or night with a friend be a better investment? The more time you spend on things that matter to you, the happier you will be.

11. You’re doing too much.

This might sound like it contradicts #10, but it’s actually related. Unfocused energy is wasted energy. Pick 1-3 priorities to give your best effort and let the rest slide. They’re all priorities you say? They may all be important, but they can’t all be priorities. Which ones reflect your goals and bring you the most happiness? Put your focus there and see how fulfilling your days become.

12. You have some issues you need to work through.

This is a tough one to admit, but we have all suffered pain and loss. If life is not going your way and you don’t know how to change it, consider counseling. Going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re crazy or weak. It means you’re proactive. Go after what you really want!


This list isn’t conclusive, but I hope that it has helped you identify at least one habit that you can change to get you closer to the life you dream of. Don’t ever settle for less when success is an option!

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