What Prevents People From Realizing Their Dreams?

Profile image Jay Michaelson
   Goals & Advice   
Oct 28   
Updated Mar 25
Most of us have dreams, though, most of us find it very difficult to realize those dreams. What are the fears we face when trying to make those dream a reality?
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Most of us have dreams. Though, most of us also find it very difficult to live out those dreams and make them a reality.
Everyone has their reasons for why this is true, and they may all be very reasonable reasons as well.

It's important to understand that behind all these reasons we may have, there may be deeper causes that prevent us from realizing our dreams.
We can try to solve the straightforward reasons as much as we want, and to some extent, doing so may also help us get closer to realizing our dreams.

But, only when we deal with the underlying reasons that keep us away from our dreams will we start making actual progress towards realizing them.
Until then, we may never be able to get as close to our dreams as we would like.

At the very least, understanding these underlying reasons may give us a new understanding of our lives and dreams.

Fear Keeps Us Away From Our Dreams

Everyone has their reasons for doing the things they do in life and for the things they don't do.
Here are some reasons why we may back out from making our dreams come true.

What if I don't like that life?

Some dreams may require us to sacrifice a little bit of the current life we are living.
This could be in the form of moving away, leaving behind most or all of what you know and are familiar with.
A big fear that can arise from situations like these is the thought of not liking what your new life will hold for you.

This fear has resided in me for as long as I can remember.
Whenever I came to the point where I felt as if, "This is it, its decision-making time!" This fear always took over. And along with a few other ones, they successfully prevented me from going through with what I sometimes truly believed was the right path for me.

There was no way that I could have known the answer to this question of if I would like my new life, and it's true for many of us who have dreams but also have a life that doesn't always go together with those dreams. We just can't know what the future holds for us.

For some, depending on the dream, there may be room for compromises, for a middle ground, a way to combine the life they are currently living with the new life that their dream may require.

For others, like myself, it's just a difficult choice that we must make.

When the trailer is better than the movie - a metaphor for dreams

We sometimes see a new movie trailer that looks incredible.
The trailer gives us the impression that the movie is going to be amazing. It gives us something to look forward to and to anticipate.

We wait a few months for the movie to come out until we can finally watch it. In the meantime, we receive the gift of additional trailers to help keep our excitement and expectations high.

The movie comes out. We start watching it, entering it with all the expectations the trailers left us with, only to find out that the 2-minute trailer was far better than the 2.5-hour movie.

We went in ready for the best, and we left feeling disappointed and unsatisfied.

I am not sure if this metaphor will resonate with everyone since not everyone feels the same way about movies and trailers but, I think it gets the point across.

We sometimes have dreams that we are not yet able to fully realize. But this doesn't stop us from creating high expectations for how those dreams will change our lives and how they will make us feel once we do.

We may get small "tastes" of them now and then. For example, if the dream is to travel the world, we may go on short trips until we can fully invest ourselves in traveling the world. This can make us build up the anticipation and expectation for what the real thing will be even more.

When we finally get to the point in our lives where we can realize those dreams, we may find that the small tastes - the trailers, were far better than the actual thing.

After getting small tastes of a dream I had for many years, I finally had the opportunity, and courage, to leave everything behind and go for the big one. The big dream.

I went in with anticipation and expectations and, when I finally got to where I was heading, it was just not what I had expected. It was not what I had built it up to be in my mind.

Later in life, I was faced with similar opportunities and choices for realizing other dreams. But, I had a new fear.

It was the fear that I would again make sacrifices for the dream, only to find out that it was not what I had expected and imagined it to be.
This fear prevented me from realizing those dreams for a long time.

It was only until I fully realized and came to terms with the fact that it was just a matter of taking a leap into the unknown that I began to pursue these dreams.

I understood that I didn't want to spend my life thinking about the dreams that I didn't pursue out of fear of being disappointed. Instead, I would rather pursue my dreams and learn along the way that some of them may just not be what I expect them to be, and then move on with the next ones.

What if I want to come back and nothing from my old life will be there?

If a dream requires us to leave our current life behind, we may face the fear of not having something familiar to come back to.

The dream of traveling the world is a big one, one that can take years to accomplish.
By the time we accomplish this dream and are ready to return home, so much may have changed. Thinking beforehand about everything that may no longer be there waiting for us can cause us to experience great fear and many doubts.

The fear of not having anyone waiting for us when we get back.
The fear of having to start over.
Thinking about money, relationships, and where we will live.

All of these thoughts can easily make us doubt our decisions and put a lot of fear into us, so much so that we may begin to reconsider what we believe may be right for us.

From personal experience, I know that even though many of us may be living what others would call the perfect life, it's just not the life we want.
It may not necessarily be a matter of not being enough, but rather, it's just not the kind of life we want.

When our dreams require us to sacrifice parts of this perfect life others say we have, they tend to think of us as ungrateful.
After all, we do have that perfect life that they want. For them to hear about us letting it go willingly just sounds utterly absurd to them.

I had this kind of life. The kind others around me were jealous of. I had a great and stable manager position at work, a great house, a relationship, friends and family, hobbies, and sports. But it just wasn't what I was looking for. It wasn't what I wanted. I didn't feel alive.

I was looking for something different, and I knew it. But for a long time, the fear of not having anything familiar to come back to prevented me from taking any steps towards what I wanted.

It's true that depending on the dream you are trying to realize, there may be sacrifices. There may be things that you will not be able to get back later, and this is important to understand.

It's also important to listen to yourself. When I finally asked myself some tough questions, I understood that I was not fully invested in the life I was living at the time. My attention, heart, and mind were somewhere else. They were in a different life that I was not yet living, but that I wanted.

I was not living in the present.

Whatever we decide, we must understand that we cannot know what the future holds for us. We may decide to not make any changes, and things may change anyway. We may choose to leave everything behind only to come back after a year and see that everything is still there waiting for us. We may come back and have nothing waiting for us.

What if I regret it?

This is a very fair point that I have struggled with and still struggle with a lot today.

My mother once said that when we face tough decisions, sometimes part of us wants all of the options, and no matter what we choose, there may be a point later in life when we feel some sort of regret for our choice.

This has been true quite a few times in my life, especially with tough decisions like sacrificing things to pursue my dreams.

This fear has prevented me from making some tough decisions at times, causing the situations to linger for a very long time.
As difficult as the decisions were, I knew how I felt about them. I chose to explore my dreams, the life I wanted, rather than living a lifeless life.

Courage, or lack thereof

Having the courage to overcome all of the reasons mentioned above was the hardest thing for me, and it still is.

Doing something outside your comfort zone is not easy.
Potentially giving up all that is familiar to you is hard.
Doing something you know you may regret in the future takes a lot of self-belief.
Dealing with all the thoughts and fears is simply not easy, and it all takes a lot of courage.

Many times in my life, I found myself making excuses, compromising on things that I didn't believe I should be compromising on, accepting things I disagreed with, changing things I didn't want to change, all because I didn't have the courage to do otherwise.

This, for many people and for myself, has become somewhat of a habit. We live our lives in this way, leaving our dreams sometimes locked away.

A hatred of confrontations

A big part of my life consists of staying as far away from confrontations as I can.
This includes confrontations in my personal life, as well as in my professional life.

I can't say what it is about confrontations that makes me want to stay clear of them. It may be a lack of confidence, a lack of courage to speak up, or it may be that I don't like awkward conversions.
Though, I suspect it's a little bit of all of those reasons.

My hatred towards confrontations has led me to make decisions that I cannot say I'm proud of. It has also led me to not speak up when I felt I needed to. This allowed others to take control of aspects of my life, something I could have avoided if I had just spoken up when I knew I should have.

I have a strange habit where I make things seem much worse than they are. This, combined with a lack of courage and my hatred of confrontations, means that I just don't say a word when something bothers me.

My mind starts to race and come up with all sorts of assumptions. It "predicts" what will happen, how it will happen, who will be hurt, and how much it will hurt, and it just causes me to shut down.

This, though, is not how reality works, and I have found that in those times that I do confront others for whatever the reason is, almost 100% of the time, things are not as bad as I thought they would be.

It's just me. I make things infinitely worse than they are, which often causes me to be over-stressed about the confrontation, which causes me to come to the conversation as if it's a battle.

It's not a battle. All I had to do was calm down, take a moment or two to calm my mind, and not let the endless thoughts consume me. To realize and fully understand that things are not as bad as they seem and that it will all be alright.

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Conclusion - Listen To Yourself

The reasons for us not living out our dreams could be endless.
The one giveaway of this article is a simple one on paper, but sometimes much more difficult to do, and that is to listen to yourself.

Find your quiet place, a place where you can clear your mind of negative thoughts and focus on what's important.

This can be in your house, at the beach, wherever you feel you can clear your mind. For me, it's walking in a forest, being in nature. This instantly clears my mind of negativity, allowing me to focus on the issue at hand and to make better, more mindful decisions.

Clear your mind, allow yourself to calm down, to stop stressing about the decisions you have to make. Let all the negative feelings, thoughts, and emotions fade away.

Once you feel calm and ready, slowly start bringing up the different decisions you have to make. And one at a time, go through them and understand them. Understand their consequences, the downsides to the choices, and the positives. Understand why you need to make these decisions and what they mean to your life.

Understand what you want and how you want your life to be.
Let yourself think about it, and just listen to the internal conversation in your mind.

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