Mar 4

Why doubts kill dreams

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Why doubts kill dreams

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will

The above is a great graphic and unfortunately for the majority of dreams this is undoubtedly true. You might disagree, but ask yourself, if circumstances were completely different (such as you didn’t need money, could have any skill or ability) what would you be doing that you are not doing now? Then ask yourself what is it that you are choosing to focus on or doubt that is getting in the way?
Lets take a very simple example. The dream might be to learn to speak a foreign language. For people who already speak multiple languages this might not seem a big challenge, however for those who only speak their native tongue, the type of things they might say to themselves are:

• I am no good at foreign languages
• I’m not a good learner
• I haven’t got the time

Interesting that there is such a gap between the dream and the choices made when it comes to turning the dream into a realisable goal. Let ask some further questions, on what basis do we think we are no good at languages? Past experience? If it was a vivid an passionate goal why can’t you make the time?

What is the vision and passion behind the goal?

To this point it is all a little mechanistic. A more powerful question is to ask what the vision and passion is behind the dream (that will hopefully drive the intent)? It might be that they want to move to a different country, travel or own a second home somewhere else. In fact when you state the goal you immediately get quite a powerful emotional connection to it. People in northern climes in Europe often dream of retiring to the Mediterranean with its sun and more relaxed lifestyle. We get it. We relate to the vision. We picture ourselves lounging around in the sun. We really connect with the dream.


Having connected with the dream we then come back down to earth. We start focusing on all the things that might prevent us from realising the dream. I’m no good at languages – barrier. I am not a good learner – barrier. Eventually we create so many barriers that the dream dies.

To paraphrase Bernie Roth:
We find reasons to hide behind, using them as excuses to stop us making positive change.

What is the alternative?

Sticking with the language analogy – an alternative might be that you know learning another language may be hard (in the context of moving country), however you understand that:

• If you live somewhere else long enough you will at least be able to get by
• There are enough people who speak your language in the country you want to move to, to be a safety net
• You plan to become an active member of the community, and realise that this involvement will help you to succeed
• You aren’t getting any younger and learning a new language is not going to get any easier so you might start now.

Something else to think about. Neurologists are increasingly supporting the “use it or lose it” concept in terms of neurological capacity. Studies show that older people who learn new languages or learn to play musical instruments benefit hugely from a cognitive perspective.

So where does this leave us?

We have incredible visions and goals that fill us with passion and excitement.

If we want the dream hard enough, we will find the intent to pursue it.

However, because it is easier, we often choose excuses to create doubt that kills the dream.

Lets be clear, multi-linguists didn’t find learning their second language easy. We know that success often involves hard work, sweat and tears. We discount this. We suggest to ourselves that ‘other people’ have more skill. We invent reasons why they may have had it easier than we will. Psychologists call this a fundamental attribution error – we know nothing about how hard or easy it is for someone else to learn another language, but because they learn one, we assume it must have been ‘easy’. We then compare this ‘easiness’ with our perception of ‘difficulty’ for ourselves and simply convince ourselves the dream will not happen. Of course we shouldn’t discount the fact that sometimes it is valid to walk away from the dream for practical reasons, or because the risks to our finances or relationships are simply too high. However that doesn’t mean you can’t evaluate alternatives to create intent to fulfill a different dream.

There is only one solution. When you have a dream, either business or personal, you have to ignore the doubts and create the intent to do something. Sometimes you may need the help of a coach, like myself, to work through the doubts. If you don’t, the consequence is that there was a real vision or dream, that inspired passion and optimism, that will never see the light of day. Not a great recipe for improving satisfaction with life or career.
What dreams do you have that you are allowing to fail?

Why not give me a call so we can #Startsomething or #Changesomething together?

Remember, failure isn’t fatal and if you try and fail, at least you will learn something that might help you succeed next time.

  1. Sarah T, Oxford 9 Mar 2016 | reply

    Nice example. Like the idea that people cannot find the passion in a goal too, because of the self-protecting doubt.

  2. Wimpy 10 Jul 2016 | reply

    It’s much easier to undrestand when you put it that way!

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