December 21, 2018 |Gideon Hanekom

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Why do so many people struggle to succeed in achieving certain goals or creating new results in their lives? We live in an amazing time with more than 4 billion global internet users  (as of 2020) which means access to any kind of information and tools to help us achieve whatever we want.

Never before in history has that been the case.

Access to information, and therefore power, has always been reserved for the privileged and elite. It’s not the case anymore.

So, why is it, that in spite of this, do so many people still struggle to succeed in reaching the things they say they want to reach?

I want to suggest 11 common reasons why people in general, which might include you, tend to struggle to succeed in achieving their goals and changing their lives.

Now, before you argue that many people don’t have access to the resources needed to achieve their goals, in spite of having access to information, let me just say this.

I’m not talking about those living in absolute poverty or restricting countries.

I’m talking about the people I personally spend time with on a daily basis or those who come and see me as clients in relationship coaching.

I’m talking about a lot of people who definitely have the means to do anything with their lives if they really applied themselves and the information they have access to.

Why is it that THEY struggle to succeed?

Why do we procrastinate?

Why don’t we use the information at our disposal?

Why do we continue to struggle even though we don’t like it and want something else?

Why do we stay in toxic relationships?

Why do we stay overweight?

Why do we stay unhealthy?

Why do we harbour negative mindsets?

Why do we entertain people that are clearly not good for us – even when we have access to more than half the world’s population?

These are all interesting questions.

In all the years of working with people on a personal level, as well as through much research and reading a boatload of books, I’ve come to realise that there always seems to be very similar common reasons why people struggle to succeed.

Every now and again you might run into an exception, but for the most part, most people struggle to succeed because of very similar reasons.

Even though their lives might differ completely.

These common reasons that people struggle to exceed are also, ironically, the very things that we see successful people tend to avoid.

You see, achieving certain goals in your life isn’t just about doing more things – often times it is actually about doing LESS.

About not doing something anymore.

About STOPPING to do something.

So, before we enter this new year, let’s look at these 11 common reasons why many people struggle to succeed, and use it as a kind of checklist to set yourself up for success in 2019.

These 11 common reasons why many people struggle to succeed are very self-explanatory, so we won’t go into them too much today.

I just want to give you a short and succinct checklist you can use to really go into this new year with an advantage.

And it doesn’t matter which area of your life you would like to change.

It can be anything …









Spiritual life.

It doesn’t matter.

These common reasons, we might even call the mistakes, show up everywhere and every time people struggle to succeed.

If you want to succeed (at anything), you need to learn what they are and how to deal with them.

Make it your aim to discover them (below) and then avoid these common mistakes in the year to come.

1. Using socially acceptable excuses to quit.

It’s very easy to come up with 20 good reasons to quit before you reach success.

We call them “socially acceptable excuses.”

I don’t have the money to do this right now.

I don’t have the time to invest in this right now.

I don’t know the right people.

I’m part of a minority group.

I’m a woman.

I am a man.

I’m gay.

I don’t have the qualifications.

I’m too fat.

I am too sick.

It doesn’t suit my personality.

The list goes on and on.

It’s important to understand, however, that these socially acceptable excuses are ones your peers will understand, and let you get away with.

They are so commonly used that we don’t even question them anymore.

But, they are also an easy way out and a big reason why many people struggle to succeed.

Make a decision today to refuse to fall into this trap again.

Whenever you hear yourself coming up with excuses for why you cannot succeed or achieve something, simply STOP yourself, immediately followed by some positive action(s) towards your goal.

And it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to achieve your goal – as long as you keep moving forward.

2. Not having habits that support your goals.

It is very important to understand that most of our results in life are simply a reflection of our habits.

You’re moving either closer or further from success each day through the habitual actions you take consistently.

Effective habits ensure that you make consistent progress, but ineffective habits cause you to become stuck.

This is another big reason why so many people struggle to succeed.

They have the desire to achieve something new in their life, but they lack the habits to support that desire.

Don’t make the same mistake.

Once you have clarity about the goals you want to achieve, immediately decide on what habits you would need to put in place to support those goals in the end.

And, listen, most of us have enough intelligence and common sense to know whether some habits will take us towards or away from our goals.

So, listen to your gut and figure it out.

Don’t allow “not knowing what to do” to become another excuse.

3. Relying on luck.

In an effort to avoid work or responsibility, many of us do the minimum necessary to have a chance to be successful and then rely on a little luck to carry us the rest of the way.

But, a more effective alternative is to have such a good plan and do so much that you’d have to be incredibly unlucky to fail.

Borrow the military’s idea of overwhelming force through force concentration.

According to Wikipedia, force concentration is the practice of concentrating a military force so as to bring to bear such overwhelming force against a portion of an enemy force that the disparity between the two forces alone acts as a force multiplier in favour of the concentrated forces.

Basically, what that means in this instance, is that you bring more resources to the fight than you think you’d ever need.

You literally overwhelm your end goal by attacking certain parts of it with overwhelming force.

4. Not knowing where you’re going.

This one should probably have been at the top of the list.

When people lack clarity they tend to struggle to succeed.

The success of any kind requires a known endpoint.

You need to know where you’re going.

You can’t accidentally end up on the summit of Mt. Everest.

You won’t lose 20 kg by accident.

It’s highly unlikely that you will wake up one morning with a happy relationship and satisfied spouse by chance.

Any significant achievement requires that you (1) clearly understand your objective, and (2) have to habits in place to get you there.

Avoid just working hard. Work hard with a purpose. Have clarity. And have the habits to support it.

5. Lacking a realistic timeline.

Another huge reason why many people struggle to succeed is that they overestimate what they can do in a day, but also underestimate what they can do in a year.

Often times when we want to achieve a new result in our lives, we get impatient and want to get there today.

But that’s not how it works.

You didn’t pick up the extra 30 kg in one day.

It happened over time.

So why would you think you can lose it in one day?

Your marriage didn’t fall apart in one week.

Putting it back together again might also take some time.

Yes, you can start right now, but your ideal result will most likely happen over time.

So, in your enthusiasm to create change, be careful about being too aggressive with the timeline when you set a goal and end up falling short.

It’s easy to overestimate what can be accomplished in a certain time period.

If you overestimate what you can do in the short term, you’re likely to become discouraged and struggle to succeed as many people do.

6. Giving up too soon.

We can probably argue that this one is the biggest reason for a lack of success.

It is very difficult to fail if you refuse to give up.

In fact, if you never quit, you can’t fail.

Because sooner or later, things will work out in one way or another.

So, keep going.

Many people struggle to succeed in achieving the desired results in their lives because they simply give up too soon too frequently.

Don’t be like those people.

Be someone who keeps going.

Someone who pushes back when the going gets tough.

7. You’re afraid of success.

It seems like you’d have to be crazy to be afraid of success, but success isn’t 100% positive.

And subconsciously we know this.

There’s more responsibility.

More people are watching you.

There can also be a certain amount of stress associated with success.

We know that losing a lot of weight will require some big changes – not just in starting the process but sustaining it.

And it scares us.

We know that creating more income on the side will take some effort – even if the tools to achieve it are available and easy to use.

And we don’t know if we’d really want to do that.

We know that our partners will be watching our every move and testing us, once we start seeing a life coach.

And we’re worried we’ll fail and get the ole “I told you so” backlash.

So, subconsciously, you simply sabotage yourself before you have a chance to fail.

We are afraid to succeed, even though we desire it because we unconsciously know the stakes will be higher.

But, the simplest way to deal with this dilemma is to also remember that being unsuccessful is super uncomfortable, too.

Remaining stuck in your life isn’t a party either.

So if there’s risks both ways, why not just go for what you want and screw the fear.

8. You’re afraid of failure.

Following on from the last point, we all know that failing can be hard on the ego.

Especially for men.

But, you don’t have to struggle to succeed because you’re afraid of failure because the truth is that the most successful people in the world and history have failed the most.

In fact, the only way to avoid failure is not to do anything, ever!

And that’s a good strategy if you want to completely miss out on life.

Going after something in life, by default, implies the possibility of failure at some point or another.

However, the real issue isn’t actually failing at all, but rather how we think about and respond to the perception of failure. 

In, all likelihood, most people won’t even notice the failures on your way to success.

Oftentimes, the only people that do, are us.

So why do it?

In fact, if you want to fail, fail at seeing the possibility of failure!

9. Avoiding full responsibility.

Another big reason why many people struggle to succeed is that they avoid taking full responsibility for the results in their lives.

But here’s the thing,

Your success and failures are ALWAYS your responsibility.

It doesn’t matter that your parents aren’t supportive or that your friend won’t loan you $500.

It doesn’t matter if you’re too fat and unfit right now.

It doesn’t matter if you didn’t go to university.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a woman.

It doesn’t matter whether you don’t fit in.

I know it isn’t fair, and I wish things were different, but they’re not.

We live in the real world.

And the fact is that, when you blame others, you admit to yourself that you’re not in control of yourself.

In fact, by doing that, you’ve succeeded in becoming a victim.


But it doesn’t need to be that way.

You can fight back.

You can take control of yourself and the situation by starting to accept responsibility for yourself and your results right now.

No one is coming to save you.

Yes, you might meet some cool people along the way, but they can only support you on your journey.

They can’t walk your path for you.

YOU need to do that on your own.

10. Being pessimistic.

Many people struggle to succeed and take responsibility because their attitudes simply stink.

But here’s the thing,

A negative attitude only brings negative results.

And when you expect a poor outcome long before you’ve even begun, you won’t do the work necessary for success.

Why would you even try?

If failure is inevitable, why make the effort?

Being pessimistic doesn’t serve your life.

You cannot create a better outcome by harbouring a toxic mindset.

All it does is poison you.

Therefore, if you want to really crush it in the New Year, make filling your mind with positive thoughts a priority.

Remember, you choose what you pay attention to.

You decide what to focus on.

Of course, there are many things that come into our environment and upset the applecart, but we still choose how much and for how long we focus on that.

11. You can’t handle being uncomfortable.

I wrote an article on this recently which you can read here.

The essence of what I wrote there, is simply that growth doesn’t happen within a comfort zone.

If we want to create, feel, experience, and achieve something new, we need to venture beyond our comfort zones.

And that will create some discomfort.

Sometimes it will be highly uncomfortable.

In fact, every time you try something new there will be a level of discomfort.

So, unless you want to struggle to succeed like so many other people, you will have to learn how to deal with uncomfortable feelings along the way.

Because learning to work through these feelings is part of achieving success.

The level to which you will expose yourself to discomfort in the year to come will play a major role in whether you struggle to succeed or not.

Take away …

I hope this article gave you a few good things to think about as we approach the New Year.

It’s important to remember that “success” can mean many things.

I know we live in a culture where we confine it to financially material things, but we can succeed at many other things as well.

I can be successful at being a great husband.

Or a dad.

Or a friend.

A good neighbour.

But, irrespective of how narrow you want to define success, the underlying principles of success still remain the same.

Succeeding in anything, at the end of the day, is a twisting road with many obstacles.

It’s easy to become discouraged.

It is easy to struggle to succeed.

But, we also know it doesn’t need to be that way.

We know that the most successful people (1) know what they want and (2) have a high level of persistence to get it.

We can follow their example.

And when you work hard to avoid the common reasons for a lack of success, reaching your goals becomes inevitable.

See ya!

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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