One of my goals is to make dreamers of people. I want you to see the possibilities available and opportunities you can create. I want you to succeed in business and in your personal life. I want you to feel the exhilaration and rush of success.

Success means different things to different people. For some, it may mean having meaningful relationships. For others, it might mean making enough money so they can quit their day jobs. For still others, it may mean giving away a million dollars every year.

No matter how you personally define success, achieving it boils down to having a vision for tomorrow and a way to get there. The way to get there is through setting goals, creating a definitive plan for achieving those goals, and then taking the necessary action, even when that means leaving your comfort zone and venturing into unfamiliar or uncomfortable territory.

Having the dream and knowing how to achieve it will be meaningless unless you do what you need to do to make it happen. Success means reaching your goals, not simply dreaming about them.

The Greek Philosopher, Epictetus, said, “First say to yourself what you would be, and then do what you have to do.”

To help you achieve success, I offer you a list of what I believe are the ten most common reasons people fail to realize their dreams, and advice on how to overcome them.

1. Get a clear vision of what you want to accomplish.
If you don’t know what it is that you want, how will you know when you’ve arrived? The more distinct your dream becomes, and the better you articulate it, the faster you’ll achieve it.

I want you to try an experiment. Put your feet flat on the floor with your back straight. Now, relax and close your eyes. I want you to picture success, whatever that is to you. I want you to explore the benefits and pleasure of that success. I want you to feel the exhilaration. Taste it, smell it.

Success, however you viewed it in your dream, is true: it’s your reality. That reality can be extended and enlarged upon. But without seeing what you now understand success to be, you’ll never know what it is. In my book, My New Reality Journal, I encourage you to dream. I want you to have huge, expansive dreams. And I want you to clearly see where it is you’re going.

2. Deal with the fear of failure.
Many people never really try to succeed because they fear failure. I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s okay to fail. In fact, I give you my permission to fail. I’ve learned some of my most important lessons through failure. It is true that some fear is healthy. It is crucial to remember, however, to keep your fears and worries in perspective: if you let them overwhelm you, they may rob you of your dreams.

Successful entrepreneurs refuse to let worry, fear and uncertainty hold them back from reaching their goals and realizing their potential. I want the same for you.

I challenge you to eliminate from your vocabulary words like if, can’t, never, won’t, etc. Don’t say, “If I’d had a better childhood, I could’ve_____” or, “I can’t _____. I’m not smart or good looking enough.”

Don’t think things like:
"I'm such a jerk. How could I have said that?"
"I'm a loser. I'll never get anywhere."
"I'm so stupid. I should have learned this by now."
"I don't fit in. I don't belong with these people."
"I'll never be good enough. I'll never do it right."
"I'm permanently emotionally damaged. I'll never be okay."
"No one could love me. I'm not lovable."

Those kinds of words, and that kind of thinking, will almost certainly become self-fulfilling prophecies that will take you down a path away from where you want to go. Replace them with positive affirmations – restated in terms that reinforce positive behavior and a positive mindset.

Try these:
“This is going to be hard, but I know I can do it.”
“I am as capable as anyone else.”
“I have my own special talents and abilities.”
“I’ll stick with this as long as it takes.”
“I’m a great person!”

These positive affirmations, especially when spoken frequently, will result in a new reality. You will see yourself in a new light. Just remember: whatever you think about yourself as it relates to success and achieving your dreams is true.

3. Possess determination.
We all face challenges that test our resolve. Often a challenge will stop us dead in our tracks. We hit a roadblock and our forward motion ceases. The goal, then, is to face such challenges without reservation and turn them into opportunities so we can continue forward.

Challenges can be viewed as an exciting ride. They can turn life into a treasure hunt or a grand adventure because you never know what you’re going to find tomorrow. If I come up against a brick wall, I try to find the crack in the mortar or a hidden door I can open that will enable me to press on. Sometimes I have to go around the wall, and that’s okay, too. It’s still a journey worth taking.

I used to pray for challenges. I loved the opportunity to do what “they” said couldn’t be done. If someone told me I couldn’t, I had to prove him or her wrong. It was like saying to a dog, “sic ’em.” I would charge out and do the undoable. (One day my wife asked me not to pray for anymore challenges. She told me she didn’t know if she could go along for the ride anymore!)

Determination is one thing that separates those who succeed from those who don’t. Once you have a vision of where you want to go, resolve – firmly - to get there.

4. Make a plan of action.
To achieve a level of success, and hopefully significance, you need to create a precise plan detailing exactly what you must do in order to realize your dream. If you don’t write it down, how will know you know if you are making progress toward the goal? Be sure, too, to set a timetable for the completion of your tasks. Open-ended tasks seem always to be pushed to the rear of the priorities.

Break your objectives into daily activities and then manage those activities. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to complete a lot of work when you manage your time well. Don’t let the phone, walk-in customers or whatever “emergencies” may present themselves rule your life. Take charge.

During certain hours, I refuse to take phone calls. I let them go to voice mail and return them when I arrive at the allotted time. I used to have a script on my voice mail that said, “Thanks for calling. I have several appointments today. I can return your call between 10 and 11 A.M. or 3 and 4 P.M. Please let me know when the best time for you would be.” That simple script gave me back my life.

When you write your strategy, post it where you can easily see it and read it. You’ll find that the more you look at it, the more likely you will be to accomplish the tasks you’ve set for yourself.

Also, I find that it helps to deal with difficult things first: get anything distasteful or disagreeable over with as soon as you can, so you can enjoy the rest of the day. In addition, do all you can without putting things off. Thomas Carlyle, the 9th Century Scottish essayist, wrote: “Men do less than they ought, unless they do all they can.”

5. Make adjustments.
You will have to make adjustments in your life to focus on reaching the success you want. In order to make the time you will need, you may have to cut back on or even give up certain activities. The trick is to prioritize.

You don’t have to skip your daughter’s basketball game or leave the bowling league or Friday night poker. But almost everyone has something he or she can spend less time on. Do you have to do the crossword or Sudoku every day? Try spending less time watching TV, manicuring the lawn, visiting friends on myspace.

Are you surrounded by people who can help you succeed? People can be a great help to you in reaching your goal, but they can also be a hindrance. Don’t feel pressured by the friend who tells you not to worry about it, that you can do it tomorrow. Let people know that you are available only after you’ve done the things you need to do.

6. Eliminate negative thinking.
Everyone has some self-doubt. However, these two questions will help you. Ask yourself everyday:

1. Did I give my best effort to today’s activities?
2. Did I move closer to reaching my goals?

The answer to both, of course, should be “yes.” If it isn’t, though, don’t kick yourself. Ask yourself why not, and do things differently tomorrow. Remember the positive affirmations mentioned earlier.

Once again, it is important to look at the people in your life. You’ll find it easier to do the things you need to do if people support your goals and respect your needs.

7. Embrace enthusiasm.
Be the day’s cheerleader. All days are good; some are better than others. You will find enthusiasm is contagious; give some to others.

Show off! Tell people how happy you are to be pursuing your dream. And as you move closer to your goal, reward yourself with praise.

8. Take action and end procrastination.
I can’t say this enough: you can have the best plan in the world, but if you don’t take action on it you simply have a dream. Are self-motivated, or do you need external motivation from someone else?

Self-motivated people are rewarded by their own achievements. Of course, all of us are pleased with ourselves for meeting goals. Some of us, though, are more motivated by positive feedback from others.

This feedback may come in different forms. If your goal is financial, you may have friendly competitions with co-workers to see who gets the most contracts every week. If your goal is to be a poet, you may want to join a writers’ group. You will find feedback and encouragement that will help you stay focused on your daily goals. Determine which method of motivation works for you. Take action.

9. Take personal responsibility.
You own this dream and you own your future. Of course, there may be setbacks and unforeseen circumstances, but you’re going to treat those as opportunities, right?

It’s easy to name all the things that rendered you incapable of reaching your goal, but it’s a good deal more gratifying to tell how the same things didn’t stop you, to describe the brilliance with which you met each challenge, or to explain how you were inspired to succeed.

Successful people don’t place blame or make excuses because they don’t have to. Neither do you. There is almost nothing you can’t plow through or work around.

10. Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone makes them. Successful people learn extremely valuable life lessons from their mistakes. Don’t be ashamed of your blunders and, more importantly, don’t be afraid to make more.

Imagine what the world would be like if scientists of the past, for example, had failed to act for fear of making mistakes. Albert Einstein said, “The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas.”

So, envision your dream, determine what you will need to do to make it happen and then do it. Remember that the things that slow us down can actually be used as stepping stones to greater successes. If you’ll view the temporary setbacks as learning tools rather than negative life events, you are in a much better place to view the challenges with expectancy.

Identify what’s holding you back. Then identify what you need to do to break through to success. If you work on changing your mindset to meet life’s challenges, you’ll reach your goals and realize your dreams.

This is Your Life! Your Goals! Your Success!

© 2008 Donald Loyd

Author's Bio: 

Donald Loyd is a gifted communicator and writer. His resume includes teaching under-graduate and post-graduate course work and his newsletter is read internationally.

Some of his written works include, Creating Wealth for Women, Creating Wealth in Declining Real Estate Markets, Creating Wealth Manual, My New Reality Journal, Marketing and Selling Your Home – A Practical Guide for FSBOs, Earn Amazing Money – Think Your Way to Riches, Oregon Developer’s License Manual, 90 Day Quick Start Real Estate Investment Manual, and Manual for Financial Freedom.