7 Dream-Killing Habits (and How to Break Them)

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“Remember your dreams and fight for them.”− Paulo Coelho

Do you ever feel like you don’t have what it takes to chase your dreams?

I felt like that too, but here I am, writing for The Change Blog.

Was it easy to get to this point? Nope. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

I’ll bet you’ve got your own dream. One that you might be somewhat scared to pursue because you doubt yourself and your ability to make it happen.

Believe me, I know how that feels. For years, journaling helped me to understand myself better. I wanted to use my love of writing to help others understand themselves better, too. So I dreamed of becoming a writer. But year after year, I did nothing to make this happen.

I waited to be inspired. I waited until there was “enough time” to write. I waited for my fears to pass. All the while, I accomplished nothing.

At one point I settled for defeat, assuming that those who accomplished their dreams must have some magical formula that I didn’t possess.

But then, after years of spinning my wheels and feeling stuck in mediocrity, I decided to seek help from two communities: one to help polish my writing skills, and the other to help achieve my writing-related goals. Sticking to a writing schedule was difficult, but the accountability and community support helped. Now, not only have I achieved my dream of writing consistently, but I’ve also been published in places I never dreamed possible.

To achieve this, I had to distance myself from the bad habits that were not serving me.  If you’re struggling to achieve your dreams, you may be stuck in these bad habits as well.

Here are seven harmful habits that hinder your dreams and how to fix them:

1. Letting procrastination steal your time

Procrastination is not saying “I won’t do it,” it’s saying “I’ll do it later.” But the problem is that “later” turns into tomorrow, and then into months and years. Eventually, it becomes “I wish I would have pursued my dreams when I had the chance.”

For years I would go to bed promising myself I’d wake up and write first thing, but I always awoke with other plans. It was a never-ending cycle of procrastination.

Can you relate?

How to fix this habit: You have a strong impulse driving you to achieve your dream. Ask yourself why you want it so much. Connecting with your “why” will empower you to follow a planned schedule and stop wasting time.

My own “why,” for example, was about sharing my stories and inspiring others.

What’s yours?

2. Letting the fear of failure hold you back

Failure is part of life—it’s unavoidable. You’ll probably fail more times than you can count. This may make you feel like your world is turning upside down, but if you can accept that failure is a natural part of the process of getting to your goal, you’ll learn to become more accepting of it.

It has certainly happened to me. As much as I wanted to help people, my writing was rejected time and time again. I lost count of the times my work was shredded. But I learned to pick up the pieces, polish them up, and move forward.

How to fix this habit: Realize that if you let the fear of failure stop you from trying, you’ll never progress in life. Pursue your dreams, and if you fail along the way, understand that this is perfectly normal and expected. Take full responsibility, then learn from the failure so you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Remember that it’s what you do with the failure that counts.

3. Letting your worst critic determine your potential

There will always be people in your life who relentlessly focus on the negative.

I learned the hard way that not everyone was supportive of my dreams. I often received negative advice even without asking.

How to fix this habit: Understand that your worst critics sabotage your dreams by keeping the fire of doubt burning. That’s why you should only share your dreams with those who help you to believe in yourself and what you’re trying to achieve.

4. Letting toxic surroundings influence your behavior

To achieve your dreams, you must be in a supportive environment. For example, if you want to start eating healthy, it will be very difficult to resist eating unhealthy snacks if your cabinets are filled with junk food. Do whatever you can to adjust your environment to support your dream.

In my own case, I had to distance myself from a toxic environment. Instead, I found a group of supportive people who were always there when I needed them.

How to fix this habit: Determine which parts of your environment are getting in the way of moving in the direction of your dreams. Then figure out how to eliminate them from your life entirely, or at least minimize their effect on you. Ask yourself how you can surround yourself with positive energy instead.

5. Letting your limiting beliefs sabotage your passion

A limiting belief makes you tell yourself “I can’t” or “I don’t.” This can turn into a cynical emotional spiral where doubt, grief and defeat thrive. To develop an optimistic attitude, you need to adjust your negative opinion about yourself.

For example, if your dream is to be a writer (like mine was), one limiting belief might be “No one will read my work,” or maybe “no one will like my work.” These limiting beliefs held me hostage until I deliberately made my mantra “I will start writing, and people will read and like my work.”

How to fix this habit: Watch the way you talk to yourself in your own head and be on the lookout for the ways in which you tell yourself that you can’t do something. Whenever you find one, replace it with a new thought that actively encourages you.

6. Letting ingratitude poison your attitude

If you don’t appreciate what you have, you’ll tend to have a “poor me” attitude that will hinder your ability to pursue your dreams.

How to fix this habit: Whenever you think you’re in a tight spot and there is nothing to be grateful for, look around and within and write down ten things you’re grateful for. Even when you’re feeling sick or weak, there is always something to appreciate.

7. Letting too many dreams distract you

When you have many dreams, you tend to multitask. Multitasking leads to feeling overwhelmed and failure to take action. You cannot achieve too many dreams at once.

How to fix this habit: Choose the dream that will add the highest value to you and eliminate the rest for now. Let this high-value dream motivate you to take action, because accomplishing it will improve your life the fastest. Take small, doable steps, one at a time, and focus on stacking up a bunch of small wins. This will increase your inspiration and your momentum.

Time to claim your dream

You have what it takes to achieve your dream.

Believe in yourself and take baby steps.

There is no better time to start than now.

Your dreams are counting on you.

What’s your high-value dream that you’ll start working on?