Seven Reasons Why We Fail to Achieve Our Life Goals

Despite our dreams many of us fail to achieve our life ambitions.  Many of my 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. Most of the time their objectives 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 why people get “stuck in their 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, and reap a larger long-term reward.  They use much of their time to study to learn their craft, rather than to play or loaf.   They often choose exercise over lounging.  They frequently make healthy food choices rather than succumb 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.  Thus:  “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—like the blueprint for a house, determines 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,” People are “filthy rich” or “dirt poor,”—thus money is unclean—it is unlikely we will become wealthy.  Unless you “were born with a silver spoon in your mouth,” achieving financial independence requires that you revise your financial blueprint.

4) We don’t deserve it

We all know “life isn’t fair.”  We don’t get what we deserve; we get what we believe we deserve.  Many people fail to achieve their dreams because they believe they aren’t capable of or deserve such a dream.  Reaching your goal requires that you truly believe you are worthy of doing so.

5) Don’t know what to do

Many folks have dreams but they don’t know how to accomplish them.  Thus, they quit or don’t even try.  Individuals who reach their objectives ask questions, read, study, get educated, experiment, even fail at times, but they don’t stop.

6) Not enough time

Many of us are “too busy just earning a living to make our fortune.”  We invest all our time and energy doing what we don’t 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 moves us forward.

7) Not enough money

Again, 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, PhD, ABPP

Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist who has practiced in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix for over 38 years.  He works with children, adolescents, parents, adults, and couples.  He also provides forensic consultations in the areas of family law, personal injury, and estate planning.  He speaks professionally to laypersons, educators, corporations, and fellow mental health professionals.  He teaches graduate courses for the Educational Psychology Department for Northern Arizona University.  He is the author of “Who’s Raising Whom?  A Parent’s Guide to Effective Child Discipline,” “Coping with Your Adolescent,” “How Come I Love Him But Can’t Live With Him?  Making Your Marriage Work Better,” “The Graduate Course You Never Had:  How to Develop, Manage, Market a Flourishing Private Practice—With and Without Managed Care,” and  “Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Your Fortune?  Discover the Psychology of Achieving Your Life Goals.”