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How to Achieve Your Dreams - Jump the Three Main Hurdles on Your Path to Success

Is it possible for you to achieve your dreams? A question that crosses everyone’s mind, at least once.

Boy looking up at the sky dreaming of a pilot.
Head in the clouds.

Asking the question

Even though we all ask whether we can achieve our dreams or not, I don’t think we give it enough airtime.

Most of us don’t sit with this question, interrogating the perception we have around the ideas the question presents:

- What do “dreams” mean to me? What is my relationship to the concept of “dreams”

- What is my relationship to life? What possibilities do I believe are present for me?

- What do I not want to confront that keeps me safe from the risk I’d have to take to achieve my dreams?

- What am I not seeing that may change my perception of this?

Finding the Answer

These are things I pondered when I was at the precipice of making a decision that would undoubtedly change my life drastically. It was related to my dreams and goals. But where I found myself wavering was when I began to question whether my goals and dreams were in alignment with what my soul wanted, what the Divine had planned for me and my authentic expression.

So, after sitting with these ideas, I think the answer to this question is simply, yes, but it comes with two caveats:

1. You can only achieve what is truly meant for you, thus your dream must be your true dream, i.e. the dream that is destined for your unique authentic self.

What you think is your dream may not be your true dream.

Your current “dream” may be a concept of success you’ve latched onto because you’ve been programmed to believe it’s desirable.

Or your ego finds this current dream attractive so it can move you along a path that will lead you to something that is more beneficial for your soul, but given the current state of affairs, you cannot see this yet.

2. The second caveat is less complex, and it is related to your free will: You decide whether you can achieve your dreams.

It sounds oversimplistic, but it is that simple. I haven’t achieved all my dreams, by no means, but what I am learning in going for them, is that it requires a lot more bravery, risk and faith than I think I have at the moment I am required to make a big decision or transform somehow.

And in those moments when I’ve struggled I’ve learned: I decide whether what I want is possible.

Because as much as I am working with the Divine, I will still be required to play my part, to be an active participant in my life, and if I am not willing to take the actions required to bring positive transformation in my life, things won’t change. Remembering that has kept me going and has enabled me to do things I didn’t think I ever could.

Be prepared

More than just a mantra or wise words

But sometimes we need more than just a mantra or some wise words to help us move beyond where we are or where we think we are.

So, in this article, I’ll talk about the three main obstacles that have an influence on whether your dreams become a reality.

Having an awareness of the challenges you’ll face when committing to your dream or a path of success will empower you. You’ll know it’s merely a challenge and not the determining factor of your victory, and because you expected it, it will be easier to deal with when it shows up.

These three things play out over and over as common themes among those who’ve achieved their dreams. Note them, and when they show up, remember they are only obstacles, and you decide whether they will deter you or not.


1. An obsession with the past

One of the most widely accepted beliefs in the human collective is that who we are is defined by our past.

Everything we believe about ourselves is based on the past.

We think we are the ideas we have been taught about ourselves – whether these are things we’ve learned about our race, age, gender, nationality and/or sex, for example.

Or we think we are our experiences – the events and circumstances (whether good or bad) and the consequential emotional and psychological states they cause.

And because of this attachment to the past, we don’t allow ourselves to become who we desire (are meant) to be.

Past hurts

For example, say you had a romantic partner betray you. And because of that experience, you not only have a memory of that pain, but you hold onto each time you enter a new relationship. This memory can hinder you from allowing yourself to be vulnerable, open or willing to work on a relationship like you may have done before. Thus you avoid taking the crucial steps that would cultivate the healthy, happy, dream relationship you actually want.

You could even latch onto an idea or memory that’s not directly related to you and use that as a reason to avoid living your dreams.

I did that when I started my intuitive reading and coaching business.

When I was about eleven years old my dad started his own business. The business went bust within seven months after his partner ran off with all the money they'd made. After that, my dad decided starting a business was a dodgy business, so he instead took on another job.

That memory, though not my experience, was an idea I accepted about entrepreneurship: That I couldn’t trust it, and that I should never work with anyone. And simply because my dad had one bad thing happen to him, I didn’t even want to try to build my own business even though it was something I really wanted to do.

Old ideas

On top of that, I had these ideas about what it meant to be a person of colour who wanted to start their own business in a white-privileged South Africa. I believed no one would pay me attention, that I wouldn't be seen, that success didn't come to people of colour and that because I am a 33-year-old woman starting on my own, no one would take me seriously.

I'd been fed and inherited some of these ideas, ideas that were designed to keep me small. And truthfully, accepting these ideas made me hesitant to want to start anything on my own. But these ideas were old*, outdated and simply not true.

[*Now this doesn’t negate the systemic issues that still affect black people and/or the unacknowledged pain and guilt that lives within many South Africans.]

Fixing the past

Clinical psychologist and author Robert Taibbi, L.C.S.W. says one of the ways we can break this obsession with the past is to change our relationship to it.

He says we shouldn’t just look at the past as a big chunk of life or history of facts of how things played out.

When we can understand we have an active relationship with our past and that it is much more pliable than we think, we can begin to shift the effect it has on our present circumstances.

The past can show itself in many ways in our present reality:

  • It can be a consequence of grief,

  • sometimes your mind could be presenting a past situation to you because of trauma that hasn’t been dealt with,

  • and sometimes it can be your mind just comparing the present with what’s happened before as the brain works in patterns.

This means that the past, depending on the context it shows up in, can provide you with some interesting clues about where you are right now.

For me, the memory of my father’s experience as an entrepreneur was pointing me to a time in my life where I hadn’t felt safe. Even though I wanted to start my own business, I felt debilitated every time I tried because there was a trauma that needed to be healed so I could trust myself.

So, instead of accepting my father’s experience in starting his own business as a framework for entrepreneurship, I rather saw it as a singular event in time and worked on releasing the pain and trapped emotions I had around witnessing that experience.

If I had dismissed that memory showing up as merely a memory, I wouldn’t have been able to take the necessary steps towards starting my business.

When you are more malleable in your approach to the past, you’ll find you can look at it in a way where it benefits you, instead of seeing it as a death sentence.

2. Limiting beliefs

A woman seeing herself reflected in broken mirror piece
A limited view.

The second biggest factor keeping us from achieving our dreams is our limiting beliefs.

Most times, it’s not that we don’t think success is possible, we just don’t think it’s possible for us.

Limiting beliefs are those beliefs we have about ourselves that keep us in a box defined by the boundaries of those beliefs.

Examples of limiting beliefs include:

  • I’m too old to start over

  • I don’t have the money to do this

  • I am bad at technology

  • I can’t try new things

  • This will never work

  • I’m not good enough

Beliefs frame our actions

Simply put, the major difference between a person who starts their own business versus the person who wants to but doesn't, is a difference in belief: The one believes they can, and the other believes they cannot.

This idea is supported by the psychotherapeutic process of cognitive restructuring, which is used to help individuals identify cognitive distortions and find alternatives to thinking that is irrational or maladaptive.

If you look at our list of limiting beliefs above, it’s pretty easy to see how someone wouldn’t take action if they believed these things about themselves.

But just like our beliefs frame our actions, we can also frame our beliefs into ones that shape different actions.

The key to doing this well is to use better words, that is, more empowering words that reframe your belief into something that will help you grow and do better while still being something your subconscious can accept.

Using our examples above we could reframe these beliefs by tweaking a few words:

Instead of saying “I’m too old to start over” you can say “I’m a little older yes and my experience has given me the skills I can use to try something new."

Or: “I can’t try new things” to “I haven’t tried trying-new-things, so I don’t know whether it works, so now I’m going to give it a try.”

Getting unstuck on limiting beliefs

Our limiting beliefs are also often linked to our experiences with the past.

You can see this in my beliefs about starting my own business as a person of colour for example. Living in a country with a fresh history of institutionalised racism, I had adopted the belief that as a person of colour I'd never be good enough even if I tried, so, I never tried to start my own business.

This is a perfect example of how the beliefs we hold about ourselves dictate our actions.

Tony Robbins says a big reason people never take different actions is because they haven’t cultivated an awareness of what their beliefs are.

Can you really change anything if you don’t know what you are doing wrong?

By identifying your limiting beliefs you can get rid of them and harness new, more empowering beliefs that drive your dreams.

One quick way to note your beliefs is to look at your habitual patterns and actions – they are most likely to reveal to you what beliefs are running on autopilot.

Another way is by journaling your general beliefs about yourself and the world.

Some prompts you could use are:

  • What is my relationship to life? How do I feel about life? What has life given me? What do I expect to happen to me in ten years?

  • What is my place in the world? Why do I exist? What do I think about myself

  • Try it right now, even if you start by writing “I don’t know what to write” you'll be surprised by some of the ideas you have about yourself.

3. Our favourite friend, fear

The third biggest hurdle stopping you from achieving your dreams is fear.

Fear is a strong primitive emotional reaction to a perceived threat.

Fear prepares us to react to danger.

It exists to help protect us from danger and once we identify an event, person, situation or decision as dangerous or a threat, our body releases hormones that:

  • Slow or cut off functions not necessary for survival (such as our digestive system)

  • Sharpen functions most likely to help our survival (such as eyesight)

Fear can have limiting effects on your decision-making especially when it comes to living your dreams. Once fear has been felt and the biochemical processes resulting from fear (including the overreaction of your amygdala) ensues, the brain:

  • cuts off rational thinking processes,

  • sees all events as negative and stores them as such,

  • remembers all the details of the events, sights, sounds and images

  • and uses them as potential triggers for fear later

This means fear muddies your thinking.

It can cause you to associate new, different present circumstances with hurt-related past circumstances. As such, you find yourself in a loop of experience where you stay in the life you currently have as opposed to making a new decision and taking a different action towards the life you do want.

I’ve been here.

And I'm pretty sure you have too.

The thing is, as Mindvalley hypnotist Marisa Peer likes to say, our brains are hardwired for fear, so there is no need to fight it, but rather accept the fact that it is part of our make-up. Robbins, who's coached thousands of successful people including American presidents and top athletes, says fear never goes away.

This means you must learn to deal with fear more effectively.

Stop fear in its tracks

Now that you know how fear shows itself, you can become more aware of it and know when it is active in your life.

Here are five steps I use as an Intuitive Coach and Guide to help clients proactively deal with fear when it shows up in the day to day:

  1. Become aware of your feelings. If you are in a state where you feel paralysed to do anything regarding your dreams and visions and find you are in a negative thought loop of why you shouldn't, stop and recognise that. You’re most likely in fear.

  2. Calm down and become present, be more aware of your body: Take several deep breaths in the moment, slow down your heart rate and when ready...

  3. Name the fear, identify it, say it out loud, and/or write it down so you can become aware of it. Write down any triggering emotions too.

  4. Now ask yourself what the thoughts are that you are experiencing? Note whether they are serving you or keeping you in a limited state.

  5. If they are limiting beliefs, which they most likely are, forgive yourself for thinking them and reframe them immediately. Change the belief to a new one that is more empowering and fuels your dreams as we did above.

Let’s lock it in – a summary

If there is one thing you must take from this article, it is that you are always in charge of whether you live your dreams or not. Your belief and thus your decision to take on the belief you can is in your control.

Identifying the three main hurdles you need to overcome to reach your dreams gives you perspective on how applying this is possible.

Our obsession with the past, whether in ideas we've learned or experiences we had, can keep us recreating the same experiences. When we change our relationship with our past, we free ourselves from the grip it has on our present.

Identifying our limiting beliefs and reframing or swopping them for more empowering or freeing ones will allow for new action within our lives. New actions help create new lives.

Accepting that we are hard-wired for fear and noting that it is designed to keep us safe is the first step to dealing with it more effectively. Become present to the current moment and name the fear. This is so you can bring it into your awareness so you can consciously evaluate it and reframe it in a way where it serves the purpose of nurturing your dream life.

What have you learned about yourself while reading this article? What action can you take now to move yourself to the next step?

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