22 Things That Hold People Back In Life (That Are Actually Very Common)

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Have you ever looked at successful people and wondered, “What do they have that I don’t?”

Are they smarter than you or something?

Do they have a special skill you don’t have?

Maybe they’re some of the luckiest people to ever walk the face of the earth.

Or perhaps they have a special family connection or leg up that’s not available to everyone else.

While the above might be true for a minority of successful people, it’s simply not the case for most.

You’re just as smart, just as lucky (or unlucky), and have as many opportunities as most of the people you consider to be successful.

So, what’s the deal? 

Why are they successful while you’re stuck living a mediocre life, unable to achieve success in your career, business, or passion?

If you look at successful people critically and objectively, you’ll notice they have certain characteristics or mindsets that have allowed them to break the mold.

Whereas you, like many others, are often held back by the way you think and act.

So, let’s take an objective look at our lives. What things are holding us back from being successful?

Below are 22 different mindsets or habits you should be looking to change if you want to finally taste the success you dream of.

1. You’re always looking for approval.

It’s nice to have people’s approval. Let’s not lie about it. The approval of others is confirmation that we’re on the right path, that we’re doing something right. 

When everyone is happy with us, we feel good about ourselves. 

But here’s the thing, you don’t need other people’s approval to feel good about yourself. You don’t need their approval or permission to pursue your goals or passion. They don’t even need to like it, or you.


Because you are a unique person, with unique talents, needs, and wants. You’re on a journey in life that no one else is on.

The only person’s approval you need is the person who is on the journey with you. Or someone who understands the journey you’re on. 

Oftentimes, that’s only you. 

When you look to other people for approval, you’re essentially waiting for their permission to live your life. You’re likely living a life that is not authentic to your true self. And, most importantly, you’re not happy with the result.

To overcome this, you need to first figure out what it is you want out of life. Then give yourself permission to go after it. Don’t wait for approval from anyone. They don’t even have to know about it. 

You only live once. Live a life that you approve of.

2. You like to shift the blame.

Everything going wrong in your life right now is not your fault. You are not to blame for all the mishaps that are happening in your life.

It’s the fault of your parents, the government, your boss, the economy, fate, and whoever and whatever else. But most certainly it is not your fault.

You’ve adopted a victim mentality where things happen to you. You’re not making things happen, and everything is beyond your power and control.

What a passive way to live.

If you want to be successful, you need to take responsibility for your life. You must accept the part you’ve played to get you to where you are right now.

Because where you are in life is the sum of all the decisions you’ve made. Either you decided to do or not to do something, and boom, here you are in this situation.

Accept that the buck stops with you when it comes to how your life is going. Take responsibility for getting your life in order and going to where you want to be. 

3. You have unclear or undefined goals.

Do you even have any goals? Or are you just winging it? Are your goals more like suggestions you sometimes commit to but often ignore? 

Perhaps your goals aren’t clear. You want to get a new job, but you haven’t figured out what type of job you want or what skills you need to get it. Plus, you haven’t even updated your CV/resume.

So your goal is more like a hope or a dream for some time in the future.  

The one thing all successful people have in common is they have well-laid-out plans or goals. They don’t leave anything up to chance.

Successful people are very clear about their long- and short-term goals. They’re even clear on their goals or tasks for each day. 

They know what they want to do, how they’re going to do it, and the timeframe required to get it done. If they need help to reach their goals, they get it. 

Identify your goals and draw up a plan to help you achieve them. Be very clear about your plan to reach your goal. If you need additional support, get it. 

4. You neglect your health.

How’s your health? When was the last time you got some exercise? What’s your diet like? Are you taking care of your health or neglecting it? And by “health,” we mean your mental and emotional health too. 

Taking care of your health doesn’t mean you just take care of your physical body while neglecting your mental or emotional health. 

We’ve seen too many people, both successful and otherwise, cut down in the prime of life because they neglected their health.

Don’t be one of those people.

If you manage to beat all the odds and become successful in life but have poor health, all your success will go toward fixing what’s broken or faulty in your body, mind, or relationships.

Take care of your health now so you’re in tip-top shape to enjoy the fruits of your labor when you become successful.

5. You have a bad case of self-doubt and imposter syndrome.

There is no way you will ever be successful if you don’t believe you’ll be successful.

Chances are, in fact, that you will make choices and act in ways that end up fueling the failure you’re so sure you’re destined for.

Successful people, on the other hand, are usually very self-confident people. They’ve had to be. Because to be successful, they’ve had to step outside their comfort zone. They believed in themselves and their ideas when no one else did.

If they struggled with self-doubt or imposter syndrome and let it win, they never would have reached the levels they’ve reached. 

That’s not to say they’ve always been self-confident. Rather, it’s a skill they learned along the way. Some successful people learned how to believe in themselves. Their dreams or goals required that they step up and believe. 

You can learn how to deal with self-doubt and imposter syndrome, and self-confidence is a skill you can develop over time. 

A simple way to do that is whenever negative thoughts crowd your mind, silence them by speaking positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your past wins. Think about the things you’re good at.

If that fails, work with a therapist to help you with your low self-esteem.

6. You’re stuck in inaction.

You want to attain success in your life, business, or career. But you’re not doing anything to make you successful. 

You’re not improving yourself in any way. You’ve taken no steps to advance your skills or move toward your goals.

While you may have a lot of ideas about what you could be doing to be successful, you’ve not acted on any of them.

All you know is that you want to be successful one day. 

Success requires decisive action. It requires consistent action. Even when you’re failing, you need to act. You can’t stop moving forward and hope that success will fall into your lap.

It won’t.

Get up and do something that moves you toward your idea of success. Take action, no matter how small. Get a little bit closer to your goal today.

7. You’re always distracted. 

You have a goal. Perhaps you even have a plan to reach that goal. The problem is you’re distracted by everything else you’ve got going on in your life. 

There’s so much stuff you’ve got to do. Sticking to your plan is just not possible for you right now. 

One thing many successful people have in common is their razor-sharp focus. Some of them are so focused on their goal that other parts of their lives suffer.

Now, there’s no need to be that focused.

But you do need to make room in your life to work on your goals. When you say “yes” to things you don’t care about, you’re saying “no” to the stuff that matters to you. In this case, you’re saying “no” to your future success.

Clear up your schedule. Say “no” to distractions and “yes” to your success.

8. You don’t want to leave your comfort zone.

Let’s be real for a second, you stay in your comfort zone because it’s safe and familiar. You know what’s expected of you and what to expect. There’s no fear of the unknown or failure because, in your comfort zone, there are no surprises.

It’s no wonder you’re reluctant to leave it. 

But the problem with your comfort zone is that there’s no room for growth and improvement. There’s no space for change. If you want to become something different or alter the way you do things, you need to step out of your comfort zone.

And, since we’re being real, that’s not something you want to do. You prefer to become successful within your comfort zone.

The truth is if you were going to achieve success doing exactly what you’re doing now, you’d have already reached it. Staying in your comfort zone won’t help you gain the success you want.

You’ve got to figure out what’s more important—comfort and familiarity or success. Are you willing to abandon your dreams of success to remain comfortable? Or are you going to step out into the unknown?

Success is on the other side of your comfort zone. To reach it, you must embrace the unfamiliar. You need to be willing to take risks and try new things.  

9. You’re chasing perfection. 

You’re waiting for the perfect opportunity, or for everything to line up just right.

There’s so much you still don’t know about (insert goal, venture, idea, etc.), and you are afraid to move forward until you are an expert in everything.

This quest you’re on for perfection is standing between you and success. Successful people didn’t progress because everything lined up perfectly. They didn’t achieve success because they knew everything about their venture.

Rather, they took action and made the best out of the situation at hand.

Life is never going to give you the perfect opportunity. You’ll never be ready enough to start. All you can do is close your eyes and hope for the best. You can adapt to whatever situation you face along the way.

Accept that you, nor the situation, will ever be perfect. Choose to act anyway. Decide to take action now. Be determined to do the best with what you’ve got.

10. You’re waiting for the right time.

We all know that the economy is in the toilet. Everything is a hot mess. Tensions are high all over the place. Politics have divided us now more than ever. 

You could wait for the right time when things get better. Or you could decide that now is as good as it’s ever going to get and act.

There’s no guarantee that things will ever get better. People were complaining about the economy even when things were great. Tensions are generally always high. After all, when have people not been on edge? 

No one is coming with a magic wand to calm everything and everybody down. Right now is as good as it’s gonna get. Make the best out of the current times.

You’ll never get a better time than now.

11. You’re bad with money. 

Not everyone is good with money. Financial literacy is a skill many people weren’t taught in school or at home. Most people had to learn it in adulthood, after some (or many) financial mishaps.

While it is not your fault you didn’t learn the skills to manage your finances as a child, it is your fault if you refuse to learn those skills as an adult when you desperately need them.

Your finances are a resource that you must manage well, because it can be used as a tool to help you achieve success by funding your skill acquisition or as seed money for your side hustle/business. 

Learn how to manage your money, how to live within a budget, and how to invest. Build up your savings so you’re not living one emergency away from financial ruin.

12. You’re not persistent or consistent.

To achieve success, you must be persistent and consistent with your goals. Some skills just don’t come easily or fast. It takes time and patience. 

Even when you think you aren’t making any improvement or progress, you’ve got to work on your goals, day after day, whether you feel like it or not.

Don’t underestimate the importance of persistence when it comes to reaching your goals and achieving success. It’ll help you to stick with your goals and work tirelessly toward achieving them.

Consistency is equally important as it’ll help you show up every day—when you feel like it, and when you don’t.

Stop making excuses for your lack of commitment to your pursuit of success. Decide to be persistent and consistently work toward it a little every day.

13. You’re not educating yourself.

Do you believe you know everything, or is there something you don’t know about the road you’ve chosen? 

Whatever the case may be, it might surprise you to learn that the most successful people are always striving to learn more. Many of them are avid readers who enjoy consuming the thoughts, advice, and wisdom of others in order to apply new approaches in their life.

Some of them look for people to mentor them, as is the case with Bill Gates and his mentor Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg and his mentor Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson and his mentor Sir Freddie Laker.

If Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Richard Branson all have/had mentors, what makes you think you can do this on your own?

Educate yourself about the journey ahead. Level up your skills by taking training programs or reading books. Connect with a mentor who has reached where you’re trying to go.

Educate yourself. 

14. You’re not asking the right questions.

Have you ever wondered if you’re making a big mistake as you take steps toward your goal? Do you question if you’re good enough to be successful?

If those are the type of questions you’re thinking about, you’re focused on the wrong things. You’re asking the wrong questions.

Those questions won’t give you the solution you need. They’re unhelpful and end up draining you of motivation and energy, leaving you discouraged.

Instead, ask yourself open-ended questions like:

“What’s the first step toward my goal?”

“How will I reach my goal?”

“What skills do I need to complete my plans?”

The answers to those questions will help you to be clear on what it is you need to do. They’ll help you move closer to success without draining your energy and motivation. 

15. You’re terrified of failure and uncertainty.

Failure is a natural part of life. We’re all going to fail at one time or another. There’s no way to prevent it. So, don’t waste your energy trying to run away from it.

What you should do instead is ensure you learn from your failures and mistakes. See failure as a tool for improvement and embrace it. 

Uncertainty is another fact of life. The only thing we can be certain of is the here and now. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Everything could go to hell in a day or two.

But then again, everything could turn around for the better as well. 

That’s the beauty of the uncertainty of life. No situation is permanent. Everything could change tomorrow.

Fighting against failure and uncertainty is a waste of energy. Instead, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. 

16. You have an excuse for everything.

When you’ve fallen behind on your goals, you have an excuse. If you dropped the ball on a project, you’ve got an excuse. You have an excuse to fit every occasion.

Nothing is ever your fault.

It’s time to stop making, giving, and taking excuses for not being committed to your goals. Your excuses aren’t helping you get closer to success. They’re keeping you stuck at the level you’re currently at. 

When you mess up, accept responsibility for it. If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it. Figure out how and why you failed.

Stop making excuses for falling short of your goals and expectations.

17. You ignore self-care.

Are you working yourself to the bone chasing your dreams? Perhaps you’re one of those people who never takes a break. You’re constantly working around the clock, only sleeping when your body can’t stay awake any longer. 

Self-care is vital to living a healthy and well-rounded life. It’s not a frivolous activity or a waste of time and money. It’s a tool for ensuring you’re replenishing your physical, mental, and emotional stores. 

You can only give out what you have. It’s not possible for you to run effectively or efficiently on empty. Eventually, you will break down.

Make time in your schedule for self-care. It doesn’t have to be expensive or take a lot of time. But it does need to refill your physical, mental, and emotional stores. 

18. You’re trapped in negative thinking.

What kind of thoughts do you have running around in your head? Are they largely positive, where you’re encouraging yourself and cheering yourself on?

Or are they mainly negative, where you’re reminding yourself of your faults and past failures?

Your negative thoughts limit the level you can rise to in life. To be successful, you must believe in yourself. You’ve got to believe you have the idea the world or your audience needs. You can’t doubt you’re the man/woman to do the job you’ve lined up to do. 

If you truly want to be successful, you must find a way to silence or overcome your inner critic and stop your negative thoughts. Because if you don’t believe in you, no one else will either. If you think you’re not going to make it, you won’t.

You’ll only be as successful as you think you can be. 

Swap out your negative thoughts with positive ones. Change your fixed mindset to a growth mindset. 

19. You quit too easily.

If you’re the type of person who quits easily or gives up at the slightest sign of trouble, you’ll never be able to reach your goals or be successful. 

Being successful is hard. The road to success is not an easy one nor is it a fast one. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul. If you don’t have the staying power to make it, don’t bother starting the journey.

Because attaining success is filled with lots of trials, long days, and late nights. When you want to give up, you must be able to find the strength to keep on going.

If you’re the only one who thinks you’ll make it, you need to be able to motivate yourself.

Don’t give up on your goals or yourself. You can do whatever you put your mind to, as long as you keep pushing forward every day.

20. You’re not living authentically.

Does your life reflect what you genuinely want? Are you living authentically? Or are you living a life that was pushed on you by your family, culture, or other people’s expectations?

If you’re not living authentically, how can you be sure that your pursuit of success is even a genuine desire that you have? It may just be the next logical step in this life you’ve built for yourself.

The challenge with living a life that isn’t authentic is that while you may look and sound happy, deep inside you’re not.

When you live your life to make others happy, the one person who is not happy is the one who matters the most. And that person is you.

Press pause on your pursuit of success for a second and examine your life. Is this the life that you want? Because if you manage to become successful even though you’re not living authentically, you’ll find that the success you achieve will not make you happy.

21. You’re not living intentionally.

Anything goes in your life. You’re not intentional with your life, your relationships, or your time. You’re not deliberate about what you’re doing, where you’re going, or who you’re spending time with.

So you end up wasting energy on people who have no business being in your life. You commit your time to projects and activities you don’t care about. And you pursue goals that mean nothing to you.

If you want to be successful, you need to be intentional with your life. You can’t afford to commit yourself to people and projects that don’t align with who you are, where you’re going, or what you’re doing.

Time and energy are limited resources and you’ve got a big goal ahead of you.

You’ve got to manage your resources as best as you can. That’s why you need to be focused—you have to live intentionally. 

22. You’re impatient.

We live in a world of instant gratification. Everything is super fast. There’s fast food, which can be cooked within minutes. The internet allows us to access information from around the globe in seconds. We can get entertainment instantly.

People aren’t used to waiting for anything anymore.

Unfortunately, success is one of those things that doesn’t happen overnight. Success comes when it comes. You can’t force it to come any faster. 

Your impatience and your desire for instant gratification are what is holding you back from succeeding in life.

You want results now. If you don’t get your instant results, you give up, assume it’s not possible, or blame whoever/whatever for the “failure.”

The reality is your impatience is pushing you to abandon your goals long before you’ve reached them. You don’t know how to work toward something consistently for the long haul.

The only solution to this is to simply wait. You can only develop your patience muscles by being patient. So, you’ve got to keep working and showing up, every day, until success manifests.

Success requires dedication and commitment. It’s not a goal that’ll just fall into your lap. Nor is it something you’ll stumble into. You need to be deliberate about it.

Success is something you work toward every day. It’s something that you’ll need to sacrifice for. But if you stay focused and do the work, you’ll get closer and closer to it every day. 

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