7 Reasons You’re Not as Successful as You Could Be

7 Reasons You’re Not as Successful as You Could Be

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.
–Vince Lombardi

Feeling down about your forward progress lately?  Do you feel like you’re running in place?  Need some motivation and tough love to help you reinvigorate your success rate?  Well, here you go – seven reasons you’re not the great success story you could be:

1.  You do a lot of thinking without acting.

Too often we think without acting.  We do nothing with our ideas.  Everyone who has ever taken a long, hot shower has had many great ideas.  I’m sure you can relate.  But you will only make a difference in this world if you get out of the shower, dry off and do something with them.

The only way to conquer your dreams and doubts is with action.  Wondering about them will not get anything done.  Avoiding challenges will only make them grow bigger.  If you wait until all conditions are perfect, you will spend the rest of your life waiting.

Great achievements are made by starting from exactly where you are right now with exactly what you have right now.  Stop wondering and start doing.  Once you’ve made a little progress you’ll always know, without a doubt, that you can make even more progress if you try.  Read 1,000 Little Things.

2.  Your creative mind is completely unfocused.

Constraints nurture productive side of the creative mind.  At first it might seem as though complete freedom makes all creative ventures more attainable, but this isn’t the truth.  Complete freedom makes the possibilities endless, but keeps your efforts scattered and unfocused.

Often, self-imposed constraints, or boundaries, force you to think differently about challenges, leading to more practical ideas and innovations.  Instead of thinking ‘outside the box’ and looking in every possible direction, get inside one box – a specific problem that needs a resolution, a smaller space where big changes can be made, etc. – and focus your creative attention on making a difference.

These boundaries create the foundation from which to launch a productive, creative effort.  It’s like pushing off from the ground when riding a skateboard, or from the wall of the pool when you’re swimming laps – having something solid to push against allows you to move forward with greater ease and more power.  And over time, as you test these boundaries by pushing against them, you figure out which ones can be broken and expanded, and which ones need to remain fixed in place.

3.  You are focusing too much on fears and defeats.

Your problems are really your blessings if you use them to grow stronger.  Never quit just because you feel temporarily defeated.  You have not been beaten – this is not a competition.  Keep working to be the best you can be.  It doesn’t matter how slow you go so long as you don’t give up on yourself.

In the long run, it usually isn’t what you have or where you are or what you’ve been through that makes or breaks you; it’s how you think about it all and what you do next.  Focus your conscious mind on things you desire, not your fears and defeats.  Doing so brings dreams to life.  Read Awaken the Giant Within.

4.  Your expectations are crushing you.

Drop the needless expectations.  Appreciate what is.  It doesn’t matter if your glass is half empty or half full.  Just be thankful that you have a glass and that there’s something in it.  Choosing to be positive and having an appreciative attitude influences everything you do.  The magnitude of your happiness and success will be directly proportional to the magnitude of your thoughts and how you choose to think about things.

Nothing ever works out exactly the way you want it to.  Hope for the best, but expect less.  Appreciate reality, don’t fight it.  Don’t let what you expected to happen blind you from the goodness happening all around.  Even if it doesn’t work out at all, it’s still worth it if it made you feel something new, and if it taught you something new.

5.  You have become distracted from your core goals.

People might tell you it’s impossible, but it’s not.  Though the challenges may be great, you can make things happen.  The odds may not seem to be in your favor right now, but you can change the odds.  When something difficult you want to achieve connects deeply with your purpose, it becomes possible.  When you are driven and committed and persistent, you will get yourself there step by step.

So look within yourself and unearth the values and goals that you most earnestly feel a deep connection with.  In the end, it’s the things that are genuinely important to you that will power your greatest achievements.  Read The 52-Week Life Passion Project.

6.  You are playing it too safe.

Pain is a pesky part of being human but it’s vitally important.  It strengthens the mind, heart and body.  You can’t grow strong, brave, or successful in this world if you’ve only had good things happen to you within the safe boundaries of your own little comfort bubble.  You need real life experiences, and nothing ever becomes real until you experience it firsthand.

No matter how long you train yourself to be strong, brave, or proficient at something, you never know if you are or not until something real happens to you.  So get real, experience life and let it teach you what you need to know to conquer your wildest dreams.

7.  You have been resisting forgiveness.

Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  Your willingness to forgive yourself and others is the greatest sign of your emotional and spiritual maturity.  It’s a process of acceptance and understanding that allows you to let go of a situation that’s over so you can move on with your life.

The key is to be thankful for every experience – positive or negative.  It’s taking a step back and saying, “Thank you for the lesson.”

Take a moment and imagine if every person (including yourself) who owed you an apology apologized today, and imagine if you accepted these apologies.  What a weight lifted.  Now imagine if everyone, everywhere did this.  How many problems in the world would evaporate?

Photo by: Hartwig HKD


  1. Jeremy Day says

    Failure, small steps, persistence and action! This is what I’ve learned recently from reading your previous posts (thank you), and this is my focus.

    I had a conversation with a friend last night who was concerned I would hit a roadblock on my new business venture and quit (a not an unreasonable concern based on my track record). I told him that this time things are different because I know there will be missteps and failures, but no matter what I have to keep moving forward.

    Perfect timing on this post for me. Thanks for the fresh boost of motivation.

  2. says

    What really got me was the bit about expectations. Practicing Stoicism, I know better than anyone to have realistic expectations or at least accept the possibility of failure. Yet, setting my expectations too high for my dreams often makes me feel devastated when things fall through.

    I often tell my friends of my grand aspirations and talk it up before I even take action, expecting things to be perfect. It’s humiliating if I fail because then I feel like a fool, regardless of whether or not I learned. Great reminder of keeping my standards in check, Marc!

  3. says

    Good read. I sincerely agree with these principles of success, especially number 6. I believe to really succeed at anything you have to do more and go further than the average person ever would.

  4. Lep says

    I like that you mention here in #1, quit thinking and waiting and start doing. How true is that, yes indeed action is needed more than anything to succeed in life.

  5. says

    Each point is right on the mark. I’ve lived all of them. And of course, when you believe success is impossible it does become impossible.

    By changing my thinking . . . changing myself . . . I’ve finally become aware of all the opportunities that life presents to us.

    Success is a mindset, not a resume or fancy title. When you adopt the success driven mindset, you can’t help but end up successful.


  6. Masudul Hasan says

    Wow! Another fantastic post.

    I can relate to over-thinking and never doing!

    It gets kind of hard sometimes. My goals are not just goals, they’re dreams. But I’m happy that I dare not to aim something everyone aims, but to dream DREAMS!

    As far as expectations go, I always expect less even though I pretty much know that I’ll get more than I expect.

    Thank you! :)

  7. says

    Hi Marc, Truly inspirational write-up. Much appreciated. Do you have a mobile app to more easily access these articles on a smartphone? If not, perhaps it’s something to consider.

  8. David Rapp says

    Great post. I think this one hit me more than any other. Thank you so much. Also, thanks for referencing the books you recommend, I just now ordered a couple.

  9. says

    Great post. I can certainly relate! I’m an introvert so spend a lot of time reflecting and thinking but I’m also a working Mum so don’t have a huge amount of time. I need to be much more focused to ensure I get done what needs to get done in the small pockets of time I have free – but my creative brain often has other ideas! The challenge of focused creativity vs focussed productivity sometimes gets me beat!

  10. cece says

    Perfect timing. Every one of the reason applies to me. I needed this because this past weeks has been extremely difficult for me. Thanks marc, for the reminder.

  11. says

    Great article.

    I’d like to add an eighth reason: not developing a routine.

    We can’t establish and maintain a constant flow of output without creating some consistency in our life. A routine becomes a habit, and habits require less will power to stop everything else, focus and do the work.

  12. says

    Though, I’m a regular reader of Marc and Angel’s amazing blog, I have to comment today.
    I must appreciate the way the author has described these stuffy things. Thanks so much for wonderful life lessons. I will definitely follow them to make myself more successful man. Thanks again

  13. Sussane Gakere says

    I have this amazing plan that I play out in my head almost every single minute of my day and night. It requires patience, money and sacrifice. Let’s just say, this post is the ‘kick-in-gear’ I needed to push on!! Thanks Marc.

    With love from Nairobi, Kenya <3

  14. says

    This is my first visit to this site and I can say, I am impressed! You guys have a site replete with great content, I hope to check here more often. And congrats on being one of the first 100 in the world!

  15. says

    Great article. Too many people underestimate the power of forgiveness. When you forgive yourself and others you become free; free to achieve greatness and free to move from your present place. Unforgiveness is an anchor that holds people back from making significant progress. Thanks for the post.

  16. Jeff says

    So true, taking time to monitor our thoughts helps to track areas for improvement. So many people’s self-talk and internal imagery is 90% negative, imagine what can happen if we change that, even just a small amount each week

  17. says

    I loved this article and shared it with my community! All thought with no action is the number one roadblock I see with my clients. We have to take it out of fantasy (and idealized) land in our heads and bring it down into reality. How else will we know if our crazy wonderful ideas are worth persuing or not?

  18. Diana says

    Thank you for the freebies you sent me via e-mail on the infographic and MP3 audio post. Thank you also for the opportunity to purchase the audio version of the 1000 Little Things book. I really love the e-book version I purchased. I often print out certain parts that I particularly like and post them around my home to remind me of all your wise advice. You are most generous to send me these offers. I am one of your dedicated fans.

  19. MK says

    Thank you Marc. This is a great post. You hit the nail on the head… Passed this article to a few of my friends who feel, as your title says “not as successful as they could be” … upon self reflection, we could put the finger on 3 or 4 of the 7 to realize what is holding one back…

  20. says

    “Constraints nurture productive side of the creative mind.”

    This observation is right on the money. I’ve recently started to use the pomodoro technique to increase my writing productivity and it is working out great.

    Great idea to recommend “Awaken The Giant Within.” It is a powerful book filled with interesting exercises. The book inspired me to start saving up money to attend the World Domination Summit in 2015 (already saved up $100 – need to reach $3000).


  1. Spot on advice as per usual. Success truly is about starting, adjusting, and pressing on. It’s about never quitting and learning along the way.

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