There can be plenty of reasons why you’re at a disadvantage. But whatever the reason is, it creates a feeling that you’re not as good as everyone else, and this fear creates more of a problem than the original obstacle that stands between you and success. Pretty soon you're convinced that you can't do anything.
Here are some things that might stand in your way:
- A previous failure (or a few of them): If you’ve ever believed in a dream, gotten really excited about it, and then watched it bomb, you might think you are doomed to failure. This is especially true if you’ve failed multiple times. You’re scared to invest time, money, and emotional energy into something that you worry won’t work.
- A lack of experience: It’s the classic Catch-22. You can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job. Every job that catches your eye seems perfect, until you realize they require about 10 years more experience than you have.
- A lack of knowledge: Maybe you didn’t get your degree. Or maybe you just don’t know much about the field you want to pursue. You didn’t learn the skills in the real world, or the ones you have are rusty. Doing what you want might mean doing things you’ve never done before.
- No connections or network or references: When you’ve been away from the working world for a while or tucked away in a cubicle with little chance for interaction, you might feel isolated. You’re not sure if anyone can help you, and if you spend your days talking to little people, you might even wonder if you have any social skills left.
- A lack of money: If you’re considering starting a business , taking a pay cut, or going back to school, you might not have any idea how to finance your dream. When you have a family to support, the idea of taking a risk might be even scarier since people are depending on you for food, shelter, and other necessities.
- A lack of support: It’s hard to make changes in your life when it seems like no one’s in your corner. When the people who love you doubt your abilities or don’t want to deal with upheaval in their lives (after all, who’s going to make their after-school snacks?), it’s so much easier to stay stuck in your status quo.
Any one of these problems can leave you feeling like success is impossible. For me, the biggest obstacle in dealing with these problems never was the problem itself but the fear it created. Trying to move from SAHM-hood into SAHM-plus-other-stuff-hood was nerve-wracking because I worried that things would stay the same despite my efforts. It wasn’t that I was afraid of failure—it was that I thought previous failures meant that I would never succeed. It wasn’t just a lack of experience or knowledge holding me back—it was a fear that I could never learn the things I needed to know, at least not well enough that someone would pay me for my skills.
It sounds silly even to me now. Of course I can meet people who can help me. Learning new things? No problem, that’s what the internet is for. Support? Luckily I have a husband who wants me to be happy, but there’s no reason I can’t create my own support system by finding friends with mutual interests.
That’s why the word can’t is so insidious. It’s easy to be discouraged when so many things stand in your way.
But the good news is that if you’re feeling this way, lots of other people have felt the same. And they succeeded anyway. Every one of these obstacles can be overcome.
Even if you decide that you need to wait before you can make your dreams come true, you can start preparing now. Maybe you’ve decided to wait to go back to work until your kids are all in school. You’ll be better off in the future if you start networking now. It will take you a couple of years to raise funds for your business? Talk to other successful people in your industry to find out their business strategies.
While it might be true that some dreams have to be shelved temporarily, you won’t do yourself any favors by telling yourself that they’re impossible. All that will do is stop you from moving forward--the word can’t is the primary cause of procrastination. The only way to find out if an obstacle is impenetrable is to move toward it--and then try to get through it. It might stop you in your tracks, but on the other hand, it just might fall at your feet.