Be honest.

You have big dreams and goals that you would love to have manifest in your life.

You keep them locked away in your heart, fiercely guarding them from the light of day—and the judgment of others.

You make little attempts from time to time but never allow yourself to focus on the dream long enough to make any real progress.

Over time, you gradually modify the dreams, making them smaller, more “realistic.” You get discouraged by how hard it is to accomplish even those modified goals.

Then something absolutely tragic happens. You abandon your dreams altogether. It all happens so gradually, so imperceptibly, you barely notice. You’ve settled for less than what your heart desires.

Does this sound familiar?

Why you give up on your dreams

The first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Don’t beat yourself up.

You may have heard the thing that holds people back from following their dreams all the way to the success they desire is fear.

This is certainly true. But it goes even deeper. It comes from the one-two punch of humiliation and shame.

We’re not just afraid of being humiliated by our family, friends, coworkers, and strangers for sharing our big dreams. We’re terrified. We’re terrified of failing and looking foolish in the process.

At the same time, we’re being subtly acted upon by shame. It says things to you like:

“You’re not worthy of these dreams.”

“You’re not smart enough.”

“Who do you think you are?”

Taken together, these two powerful forces present a formidable obstacle to your dreams. But they can be overcome.

How to set yourself up for the success you desire

Let’s get right to it:

1. Understand these feelings are normal

As I mentioned, you are not alone in your experience. Anyone who dares to reach for the stars have similar headwinds to face.

So the first step towards the success you desire is to understand this:

If you have doubts, if you fear humiliation, if you hear voices in your head telling you you’re not worthy, you are on the right track.

Read the biography of any successful person you admire. Most of them are candid about their struggles early on. Some will even admit that they still struggle with these fears even after experiencing success.

It simply goes with the territory. The key is acting despite these fears.

2. Get clear on what success means to you

Ambiguity is the enemy.

You may have some sense of what you want but you’re too ashamed to state them unambiguously.

There may be a number of reasons for this. But the most powerful forces are likely those you heard growing up. If you grew up with people who believed desiring money is bad, you’ll believe you’re bad for desiring it.

With the desire for money in particular, the key here is to go deeper. Most people don’t just want money. They want what money can provide: freedom and the ability to help others.

Also, most people don’t define success just in terms of material abundance. We also want spiritual abundance in the form of more harmonious relationships, greater well-being, peace, and happiness.

Grab a pen and paper and write down what a successful life would look like for you.

3. Choose between success and safety

Write down as well what life might look like if you could eliminate all your fears.

For most of us, this would require giving up all our goals, dreams, and ambitions. It would require us make ourselves small. It would mean settling for less.

Take a look at the two descriptions in front of you. These are the choices you face—the success your desire or safety.

But here’s the thing, if safety means freedom from feeling judged, humiliated, or shamed, then safety is a myth. Whether or not you decide to go after what you really want, you will face these forces, just in different ways.

So why not go after what you really want?


Cylon is a spiritual chaplain, musician, devoted husband, and busy dad of seven. He blogs about practical spiritual tips for living well at Spiritual Living For Busy People - sign up and get his free guide 20 Little Tricks To Instantly Improve Your Mood Even If You Feel Like Punching Something (or Someone) You can also purchase his book Self-Love: How to Love Yourself Unconditionally

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