Why we fail to achieve our life goals

Why we fail to achieve our life goals

Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “Most people go to their graves with their music still within them.” Why?

Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “Most people go to their graves with their music still within them.” Why?

by Dr. Larry F. Waldman — 

Despite our dreams, many of us fail to achieve our life ambitions. Many clients talk about starting a business, becoming financially independent, writing a novel, traveling, furthering their education, getting physically fit or becoming a nurse, teacher or lawyer. Their objectives often go unfulfilled. Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “Most people go to their graves with their music still within them.” Why?

1. The need for immediate gratification — A primary reason people get stuck in a rut and fail to achieve their goals is that they want it now. They cannot delay their reward. Individuals who become financially successful invest their money rather than immediately spend it, reaping larger long-term rewards. They devote much of their time to learning their craft, rather than loafing or playing. They often choose exercise over lounging, and they frequently make healthy food choices, rather than succumbing to the lures of comfort food.

2. Fear — Fear of change blocks many people from their goals. While being stuck is unsatisfying, at least it is familiar. As the old saying goes, “If we always do what we always did, we will always get what we already got.” Fear of failure also prevents people from succeeding. Fear of failure often trumps the desire to achieve. To reach new goals, the risks of change and failure must be confronted. Psychologists teach the best way to combat fear is to face it, not avoid it.

3. Our negative financial blueprint — The values we learned about money as children (our financial blueprint), much like the blueprint for a house, determine the dimensions of our financial success. If we grow up regularly hearing, “Only the rich get richer,” “It takes money to make money,” “All rich people are snobs” or that people are “filthy rich” or “dirt poor,” it is unlikely that such ingrained attitudes will help us become wealthy. Unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, achieving financial independence will require that you revise your financial blueprint.

4. Do not deserve it — We all know life is not fair. We do not get what we deserve; we get what we believe we deserve. Many people fail to achieve their dreams because they believe they are incapable or undeserving of such a dream. Reaching your goal requires that you truly believe you are worthy of doing so.

5. Do not know what to do — Many folks have dreams, but they do not know how to accomplish them. Thus, they quit or do not even try. Individuals who reach their objectives ask questions, read, study, get educated, experiment and even fail at times, but they do not stop trying.

6. Not enough time — Many of us are “too busy just earning a living to make a fortune.” We invest all our time and energy doing what we do not want, which leaves us no time, energy or money to do what we do want. To be successful we must stop spinning our wheels and make time to do what can move us forward.

7. Not enough money — Many of us continue to spend our limited funds on things that do not help us grow. To evade this rut, we must save some money or even take on a part-time job to glean the necessary income to invest in our future.


Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP, is a licensed psychologist who has practiced in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix for more than 35 years. He is an author and teaches graduate courses for the Educational Psychology Department at Northern Arizona University. larrywaldmanphd@cox.net, 602-996-8619 or topphoenixpsychologist.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 34, Number 1, February/March 2015.

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