7 Painfully Honest Reasons Why You’ll Never Be Successful

Life can be frustrating sometimes. You’ve set big goals for your life, you’re dreams are admirable, yet you are not getting anywhere. What’s the problem?

After all, you’re not lazy, heck; you come home exhausted after each day. It’s not from lack of motivation; others who have chased down their dreams inspire you. It’s not your lack of confidence, you know you are capable, you know you’ve got what it takes, you feel success within your grasps.

If it’s not your work ethic, attitude or willpower, why haven’t you reached success?

The biggest reason I know: You need a change of perspective. In other words, your idea of success sucks. But its okay, it is not your fault. We were raised with a narrow-minded view of what success should look like and how we should go about achieving success. Yet, if the end result doesn’t look like the image of success that has been pounded into our brain, it is considered failure.

We’ve been chasing all of the wrong things defining success by the size of our home, the price of our car, or the money in our bank account, yet in truth, you don’t need any of that to be successful.

So what are you doing wrong? Let’s begin with these 7 painfully honest reasons why you may not feel successful.

1. You are still using someone else’s definition for success. You are unique. You are not the same as the next person. You have your own set of values, beliefs, goals, and your own body to store it all. So why waste precious time using the same ideas for success as everybody else? Doesn’t make sense does it?

Tony Robbins wrote “Being clear about exactly what you want is the first and most fundamental place you need to go to make anything better.” Decide on what you want and that’s your personal definition of success. Forget what anyone else thinks. It’s your life; define it. You can change it any time you wish and that is part of the magic we often forget.

2. You are afraid to ask for help. To go it alone and not ask for help is a fool’s errand. One of my favorite books is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. In it, he states, “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” I couldn’t agree more. I find the more I give to others without expecting a favor or payment, the larger and faster I grow. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be selfish in sharing what you know even if it means that person could one day be senior to you within an organization.

3. You want success for selfish reasons. Everyone has a bit of selfishness inside of themself and its okay to express those emotions from time to time. If you spent your entire life only pleasing others you would never grow unless of course serving others was your unique goal. Yet, if your ideas for success is only to make YOUR life better, you’ll never be successful.

A study from The Scientific American on the side effects of greed and generosity on the human body was alarming. It was found that generosity keeps the body healthy while greed brings stress and produces the chemical cortisol which is a very harmful chemical to the human body.

Can you see where chasing that new car and big house is a lame and dangerous definition of success?

4. Your schedule sucks and so do your time management skills. At the end of the day you know you were blindly busy, yet somehow you don’t feel like you really accomplished anything of note. You were simply busy. We are all guilty of doing “busy work” but in reality accomplishing nothing.

Time is more valuable than money. You can always make more money but you can’t make more time. Treat it that way. Use your schedule and prioritize your tasks. If you add something to the to do list, remove something else. Find that one or two things that must get done and do them first. This is especially true if there is that one task you dread most – DO IT FIRST. Most of us tend to procrastinate and do the dreaded things last. Turn that around.

Author J.R.R Tolkien said it best, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

5. You’ve stopped growing. Regardless of your age or position in life the moment you stop enriching your mind and growing, you begin to atrophy and the dying process begins. It doesn’t have to be this way and you can change it at any moment you choose. Use this quote from business owner Dan Schmidt to get your brain back in gear: “If everything I’ve done until now is only the beginning, what’s next?” With the Internet and search engines such as Google, an entire universe of knowledge awaits you. Learn something new every day.

6. You are still looking for short cuts or get rich quick schemes. The only short cut you’ll ever need is so useful it puts any other short cut to shame and I can give it to you right now. Ready … There are no shortcuts.

Richard Branson, one of the richest, most successful people in the world, said it best “If you spend your time looking for shortcuts, you will find one – right out of business.”

If your goal is to lose weight, would you really be satisfied taking weight loss pills that destroy your organs instead of committing to diet and exercise? Short cuts are for people who only care about themselves and that is not who you are. Do it right the first time. It make take longer, but you will be so much better off in the end.

And this brings me to #7, which in reality should be #1 as it is the single most reason people do not become successful:

7. You are terrified to commit yourself to being successful. This one amazes me when I talk to people and clients. Some are afraid because they have no idea what will happen. Others have a latent poor self-image issue or value of themselves that manifests as not being worthy or deserving of success.

For some, it is a deep fear of failure and inability to deal with the “What if’s” of life. What if they fail, what will others think of them? On and on these what if’s show up for them, paralyzing them every step of the way.

What happens as a result of these fears is that many people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty the majority of the time. People would rather live an unhappy life and never reach their goals because they are too afraid to leave their comfort zone. This is a sad but amazing true fact. It doesn’t have to be that way.


If you are going to become successful, you have to commit, and it is not as simple as declaring a pledge, it requires commitment. Commitment is the secret ingredient.

Being successful is more than money, status, or even reaching your goals. Those are mere by-products of true success – great to have, but not as valuable as what true success is all about. If you haven’t noticed yet, the ones who achieve true success LOVE what they do. They are passionate about it. No matter how simple, or complicated, easy or hard, they love it with a deep burning passion.

True success is about falling in love with the process every step of the way.

It’s about loving what you do.

It’s about loving your failures.

It’s about loving your triumphs.

It’s about loving all those who help you along the way.

But most of all, it’s about loving yourself.

Donn Carr
About the author: 

Donn Carr is Principal and President of Carr Management Group, an international business consultancy.  Follow Donn and CMG on LinkedIn.