“I want to help people” is a standard response when someone is asked why they’ve chosen their current profession. But somewhere between the desire and the outcome is a vast gap of nothingness.

People are putting in the time toward their goals but not seeing results. Time does not equal productivity.

There are five main obstacles that stop most people from achieving their goals. The good news is that they are all surmountable.

The journey to pursuing career dreams can be exhilarating, filled with passion and purpose. However, the workforce is peppered with individuals giving up on their aspirations, filling themselves with discouragement and self-doubt.

There are common reasons people desert their career goals. But all hope is not lost. There are actionable strategies to help reignite enthusiasm and take the wheel of career success.

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is powerful and can paralyze even the most ambitious individuals. There is a palpable level of uncertainty accompanying wandering outside your comfort zone. The possibility of not achieving your stated goal can be overwhelming. Rather than experience loss and potential embarrassment, many don’t even get out of the starting blocks. The fear of failure causes them never to launch.

What you can do:

Remember that failure is data. You can learn something from the experience. Ask yourself what is the worst that could happen. In reality, it is often not that bad, and perspective is everything here. Seek support from mentors and your network to mitigate the fear and set realistic expectations. High achievers fear not trying more than they fear failing.

External Pressure and Expectations

As if self-doubts are not limiting enough, external pressure from family, society, social media, and others can disintegrate a person’s confidence and career dreams. Constant scrolling and hearing what others achieved can be overwhelming and depleting.

What you can do:

Those outside people are not living your life. As the saying goes, “If they aren’t paying rent, don’t let them take up real estate in your head.” Every person’s path to success is unique, as it should be, and defined by personal aspirations and values. It should be based on how you see yourself, not on how others view you. Set boundaries, surround yourself with people who will support your dreams and open doors you never knew existed.

Impatience and Instant Gratification

Texting, notifications, and overnight delivery of online orders have created a reality in which pursuing long-term career dreams is misaligned with the expectation of immediate gratification. Success comes before work only in the dictionary. Expecting quick wins is setting you up for disappointment. Nobel prizes and Olympic medals were all earned after decades of hard work, failures, and near misses.

What you can do:

Sometimes goals seem so big and so overwhelming that we don’t know where to start, so we don’t start at all. Breaking down larger goals into bite-sized milestones, celebrating progress and small wins, and seeking guidance from mentors who have overcome similar challenges can help maintain focus and motivation.

Self-Doubt and Limiting Beliefs

Self-doubt, the inability to believe in our capabilities, can be a significant barrier to pursuing and obtaining career dreams. Imposer syndrome (learn how to overcome this) and limiting beliefs can undermine self-confidence and self-efficacy and inhibit progress.

What you can do:

It’s time to call out the invisible barriers you’ve set for yourself and gain some outside perspective. Challenge self-limiting beliefs, reframe negative thoughts, and practice self-compassion. Seek guidance from a mentor who can offer valuable perspective and support.

Lack of Resources and Opportunities

Sometimes we need more knowledge and, more important, access to that information. Limited access to resources, mentorship, or opportunities can pose a significant challenge and derail the pursuit of your career dream. It is difficult to go through doors you don’t even know exist.

What you can do:

You don’t know what you don’t know. It is critical to proactively seek out resources, through networking (learn nine easy ways to start a conversation with a stranger), conferences, webinars, online groups, and educational programs. Engaging in continuous lifelong learning, diversifying your professional network, and actively seeking stretch assignments can all help you overcome such obstacles and open doors to new possibilities.

Abandoning your career goals is a choice that often arises due to fear, external pressures, impatience, self-doubt, and a lack of resources. You can discover empowering solutions to overcome these challenges by raising your awareness and recognizing and addressing these underlying reasons.

You can find your lost motivation and reignite the pursuit of your career aspirations. It won’t happen overnight. The path to success is rarely linear or precise, but with determination, self-belief, and supportive mentors, you can overcome the overt and covert obstacles you face.

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