What's Holding You Back?

Posted on December 19, 2023

Everybody can name at least one Big Thing in life they’ve really wanted, but never actually gone for. What’s yours? It’s something you’ve carried in your mind for a long time. You’ve thought to yourself, “I could do that!” And you’re right.

Why is it still just an idea . . . an aspiration . . . a wish? Why haven’t you made it happen?

Here are the seven most common reasons people give for not pursuing their dreams:

  • I don’t have enough time.
  • I don’t have enough money.
  • I lack the necessary skills and knowhow.
  • The dream seems too difficult.
  • I’m afraid I would fail.
  • I’m waiting for the “right” time.
  • I’m concerned about how other people would react.

But we kid ourselves. The #1 reason is missing from the list.

The #1 reason we hold back and fail to pursue our dream is a shortage of desire. There’s just not enough “want to.” The dream simply isn’t powerful enough to stir the heart. Passion is the X-factor that's missing.

We tell ourselves the other seven reasons are legitimate and, yes, they may represent actual constraints. But all seven can be categorized as excuses. The stronger your craving to achieve a goal, the more likely you are to take on the challenges. Intense desire can—

  • Overcome inertia
  • Drive your pursuit despite difficult circumstances
  • Motivate you to maneuver creatively around constraints

So here’s the acid-test question: Is your goal big enough?

If you’re holding back—if you’re not actively pursuing your dream—maybe you should enlarge your ambition. Maybe you need to go bold

Upping the ante is a very counter-intuitive idea. The natural tendency is to give up or lower one’s sights, settling for a more modest goal that’s less challenging. But in trying to lower the risks, you make a much greater gamble: You kill the X-factor. Passion fades, and that signs the death certificate for your dream. It becomes a victim of your "reasons."

David Burnham said,

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work."

Maybe it’s time for you to raise the stakes. Aim yourself toward a more magnificent goal, a dream born deep inside your bosom. Let it come from your heart, not your brain. And make it so grand it scares the horses . . . so appealing that you can’t hold back.


Price Pritchett is one of the foremost experts on fast-growth strategies and breakthrough performance. His firm—PRITCHETT, LP—is recognized worldwide for its thought leadership on mergers, corporate culture, change management, and accelerated achievement. These writings define the behaviors and individual mindset underlying fast growth and innovation.


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