Why Don’t More People Follow Their Dreams? The Harsh Truth About Success in America

When we’re children, we’re told the world is our oyster. Anything is possible; we should follow our passions and pursue our dreams!

Upon hitting adulthood, we realize the fallacy. Following our dreams is an idealistic pursuit, and reality is much different. 

Why People Can’t Follow Their Dreams

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Most of us aren’t lucky enough to land dream jobs or work in industries that align with our passions. Instead, we take jobs we don’t like and, if lucky, have a little free time to do what we love. 

While scrolling through my favorite Reddit community, R/Askreddit, I stumbled upon a question seeking to discover why more people don’t follow their dreams. 

The answers, though unsurprising, showcase some of the problems inherent in our current system. 

Too Broke

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Lack of money resonated as a top response. Soaring inflation and outrageous living costs make it difficult to afford life, let alone pursue dreams outside of basic survival. 

Money would legitimately solve most, if not all, of my problems, including pursuits of my dreams,” responded one user. 

“Money,” stated another before sharing their dream.  “I’d like to start up a lab, but if I don’t have enough capital, I can’t get any equipment, but if o open a start-up, I’ll need investors, and then people who know nothing of my plans and just want to make money will take control, and then I’m back to were I am now.”

Further Reading: How Making a Financial Plan Can Help You Achieve Your Dreams


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Anxiety holds us back from a lot of things. One user said “fear and anxiety” prevented them from following their dreams. 

When prodded, they said they weren’t sure whether they feared success or failure and admitted it was likely both. 

Fear of failure is a top fear among Americans. Our society makes failure out to be a horrible, life-destroying thing, but in reality, failure is what helps us learn and grow. 

We should embrace failure rather than fear it. 

No Passions

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One user sadly admitted that they don’t follow their dreams because they don’t have any. 

Everyone has something they’re passionate about. It may be hidden in the deepest corners of your subconscious, waiting to awaken, but it’s there. 

Check out our guide on finding your passion if you feel aimless. 


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One user shared that their mental illness prevents them from following their dreams. “ADHD paralysis,” they responded. 

Another agreed, saying, “ADHD is no joke. Folks who don’t get it make fun of it but those of us who do…well, we get it.”

ADHD causes executive dysfunction, making it difficult for people to accomplish things they want to achieve. Sometimes our brains simply won’t let us do the things we want to do, despite our best efforts. 


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Another Redditor said her religious upbringing hindered her dreams. 

“I was raised Mormon,” she replied. “Any dreams I had were killed by the constant preaching that a woman’s place was in the home. Get married young, and have lots of babies. Thankfully I was only physically able to have one child. Oh, and yeah, the divorce is in the process.”

Unfortunately, misogyny thrives in many communities. Society tell women they shouldn’t have dreams of their own and they should dedicate their lives to raising a family, and stay out of “mens” spaces. 

Thankfully, modern society is pushing against historical norms, showcasing that women are just as capable, and have individual hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations, just like men. It’s almost as if women are, in fact, human. 


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Some dreams aren’t practical. One user openly admitted that they don’t pursue their dreams for this reason. 

“They’re just not very practical, and I often don’t even make time for the parts that I can do,” they admitted. 

Not everyone can be the next Michael Jordon. Most won’t become astronauts. It’s okay to put aside impractical pursuits for things more reasonable. 


Young female doctor caring for an older female patient.
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Responsibilities damper our ability to pursue our dreams. One user said being a caretaker for their sick parents prevents them from pursuing their passions. 

“Caring for an older parent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be there for them at this stage of their life, but having been taking care of them for the past ten years, I’m, admittedly, starting to dream of another life. One where I can move about freely without having to worry about them so much,” they said. 

The user added that they love their parents and are happy to care for them, but the responsibility makes pursuing their dreams difficult. 

Pursuing Perfection

Hand of a businessman laying out five stars for perfection.
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One user said they are their own worst enemy and hold themselves back from following their dreams. 

“Myself, wasting time thinking I can’t move forward until I have this or that taken care of,” they said. 

Many of us overthink following our dreams to the point where we don’t do anything. We think everything has to be perfect to start, so never begin. 

The secret is that things don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay to start slowly, do things poorly, learn and grow. Don’t let the pursuit of ideal timing or perfect conditions prevent you from taking action today. 

No Back-Up Money

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Numerous users simply answered “money” in response to the initial query. It often takes money to pursue the things you want. Having a pool of money to fund your life while you start working toward your goals would be ideal. 

“I dream to be an illustrator but to be one where I live, you need to be a freelancer,” said one user. “I would need to have side money in order to go into the field because it takes time to build your work clients.”

It’s not necessarily a matter of being broke, like others responded, but of not having a financial safety net to take enormous career risks. 


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A lot of people have money, but only because they spend all their time working jobs they don’t necessarily like to pay the bills. The jobs take up all of our free time, preventing us from pursuing our dreams outside work. 

“Work, I hardly ever have time to do anything else, and if I do get a break, I’m completely knackered from it and just want to sleep,” shared one user. 

“Most of my time is dedicated to the job I need to pay my bills,” responded another. 

Living Your Dream Life is Within Reach

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Despite what Reddit says, your dream life is within reach. Your passion is buried deep inside of you, aching to burst free. Here’s how to rediscover your passion and life the life you always wanted

Invest in Yourself to Achieve Your Dreams

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An under-rated key to happiness is investing in yourself. You’re worth the time and effort.

Here are 38 ways to invest in yourself, and most aren’t about money. 

Live a Fulfilling Life No Matter What You Dreamed

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With the hustle and bustle of daily life, we often forget to take time to do what makes us happy.

Here are 37 tips to help you live your best life

More From Partners in Fire – Turn Your Hobby Into Cash!

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Want to make money doing something you enjoy? Consider one of these excellent hobbies that make money!

Read it here: Cash in on Your Passions with the Best Hobbies that Make Money

Live an Epic Life by Adding these to Your Bucket List

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Don’t just exist, live! Here are over 200 bucket list ideas to pursue for an epic life.

Source: Reddit