9 Dumb Reasons Why You Fail (and the number 1 secret to success)


It’s not nice being a failure is it?

You try your best, but you can’t help shake the feeling you’re destined for the scrapheap.

Every day is the same old shit and there’s not even a Groundhog in sight.

It’s not so much the routine, although boredom drives you to tears. Nor is it the salary or the size of your house, although they could always be better. No, it’s the feeling you’ve done absolutely nothing worthwhile since the day you beat a billion other sperm for the right to live this gloriously unfulfilling existence.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

Occasionally you wake up in a great mood. True, it’s not often, but it happens.

Something feels a little different.

So you spring out of bed – enthusiasm dropping from every pore. Today is the day, you tell yourself. Today is the day when shit changes. Today is the day when I’m going to do something worthwhile with my life.

You head out of the door with a determined look upon your face.

There’s a plan, an idea, a journey to embark on.

Nothing can stop you now.

But, as always, failure runs up behind you, spins you around and bitch slaps you so hard your cheeks vibrate for a month. Yet, once the pain subsides and you stop crying, you resume whatever dumb thing you were doing beforehand.

This insanity repeats until you eventually give up and join the walking dead in whatever dreary career you can get your hands on.

Enthusiasm is great. Having a plan is great. Doing something about it is beyond great.

But if you’re making one of the mistakes on this list – failure will always find you, and do you know what the worst part is?

You’re still no closer to figuring out what it takes to succeed.

Luckily, I’m here to reveal the number one tip you need to follow to achieve any goal. But first, let’s look at the 9 dumb reasons why you keep failing…

1. You’re full of shitty excuses

Yes, you’ve told us before. We get it.

You don’t get enough free time to practice.

You can’t study because your hamster ate your work.

You have to miss the gym tonight because your training buddy isn’t there to hold your hand.

Awww, it’s ok. Gyms are scary places… for 5 year olds. Man up.

These excuses are all in your head. They don’t exist. They’re little stories you’ve created to make yourself feel better when you’re too afraid to admit the truth.

2. You think the world owes you a favour

A few years ago I was having a conversation with a work colleague when we started discussing a certain professional footballer and his unfathomably large salary. He believed this player to be the beneficiary of good fortune, whereas I argued his earnings were a reflection of the effort and dedication he’s given his craft over the previous 15 years or so.

My colleague went on to explain how he was released by a professional club as a teenager and after I mentioned this player deserved every penny, he replied;

“What about me?”

Erm… What?

He may as well have said;

“Hey, look at me, I managed to dress myself this morning… give me free stuff.”

I’m sorry, fella; that’s not how life works. Try again.

3. You’re too easily distracted


Now do I have your attention? Good.

The internet is rotting your mind.

Facebook has reduced your concentration to that of a Chimp. Smartphones are demanding your attention with their continually vibrating ways and Twitter has ruined you to such an extent you can’t go a few minutes without hash tagging another pointless selection of words.


There’s also a good chance you’re afflicted with ‘magpie syndrome’. This is when your attention shifts away from what you’re currently doing towards the first shiny object you see. If you keep starting new projects and dreaming up new goals, it’s a sign you have no idea what you want.

I know this all too well. I’ve been there.

4. You believe successful people have special powers

I’m sorry to be the one who has to tell you this, but…

They’ve been lying to you.

Those famous actors, musicians and athletes you had plastered all over your wall as a spotty faced teenager. They were telling you big, fat porky pies.

They spin a story. They don’t want you to know the truth, so they create an illusion, a fairy tale of epic proportions with the sole intention of fooling the masses and convincing everyone they are somehow different from the rest of us.

But it’s a big con, and here’s why…

The truth is boring. These people aren’t superheroes. They aren’t born with alien DNA or special powers. The only extraordinary thing about these people is how ordinary they actually are, albeit with one small difference…

They all work harder than you.

5. You care too much about what other people think

Do you know what separates high achievers from the rest of us? Well, apart from the above, obviously.

They don’t give a shit.

Tom Cruise rarely asks his friends or family for an opinion before deciding whether to accept a movie role. Arnold Schwarzenegger ignored the pleas from his wife not to run for Governor of California because he trusted his own instincts. Richard Branson is not afraid of making a mistake when deciding where to spend his money. He just throws his balls in a wheelbarrow and runs full speed towards his goal.

There are only two types of people you should ever listen to; those who are where you want to be, and those who want to come along for the ride.

Everyone else is irrelevant.

6. You’re sabotaging yourself

Are you the guy who wants to become successful with women but still lives with his mother?

Do you turn up for exams without revising the right content or researching past test papers?

Are you hitting the gym every evening without paying any attention to your diet?

We all have our weaknesses. We all have blind spots. There is something holding you back right now and you don’t even know it. This isn’t a genetic flaw you can’t do anything about or a life situation which is out of your hands, this is something you’re allowing to directly interfere with the person you wish to be.

If you can’t work out why you’re not as successful as you should be, try looking in the mirror.

The answer is always looking at us.

7. You don’t want it as much as you think you do

Are you in denial?

Are you struggling to motivate yourself every time you sit down and think about your ‘passion’?

Of course, you can’t back out now; you’ve told everyone your plans and you would look a little stupid if you changed your mind. So you plod on. Hoping the smouldering embers inside your body will reignite the furnace you desperately crave.

It rarely happens.

This could just be a dip. It could be a symptom of a bigger issue. Or it could be a sign you’re trying too hard to change your life and you’ve just grabbed the first half decent idea that entered your head.

Stick or twist?

The choice is all yours. Make it a good one.

8. You’re terrified of failure

I’m going to tell you something you probably don’t want to hear.

Failure is inevitable. You need it in your life. Without it you are nothing, and you will achieve nothing if you refuse to embrace its existence.

It’s the energy that feeds your talent. It’s the water that nurtures your roots. It’s the oxygen you need to live, breathe and survive as you continue to grow and fulfil your potential.

The most successful entrepreneurs have a history of failed businesses. The world’s greatest actors have a thousand failed auditions. Superstar athletes in every sporting arena have all experienced the crushing blow of defeat.

You need to embrace it, accept it and deal with it.

9. You’re terrified of success

Do you have any idea what success looks like?

I doubt it.

It’s huge. It’s life changing. It pulls you so fucking hard out of your comfort zone you can barely breathe.

You’re a stuntman without a safety net. You’re an astronaut without a spacesuit. You’re a little lamb, separated from your flock, cowering from the sound of a thousand hungry wolves howling in the distance.

They are out for blood. They want to ravage you and tear you apart just to feed their insatiable desire for whatever it is you have to offer.

But you didn’t think about this. Why would you?

When you’re watching your favourite band commanding the stage with world class musicianship and fearsome stage presence, you’re left in awe. You want to be in their shoes. You want to experience the excitement and jaw dropping emotion of having 50,000 adoring fans singing back the words you so carefully crafted.

Some people can handle that. Some people thrive under pressure and embrace their role. Others falter, wilt and break from the pressure of expectation and demand.

British singer Robbie Williams was so terrified of performing as a solo artist, he would have a nervous breakdown a couple of hours before every show. The burden of having to put on a 2 hour performance for his adoring fans was enough to turn him into drug and alcohol addiction.

Multi Academy award winner, Daniel Day-Lewis was so overwhelmed at landing the lead role in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, that he ran off stage – mid performance – never to return.

Another British star, Adele, has even cancelled whole tours because of her crippling stage fright. Suggesting even the biggest stars in their chosen fields often feel inadequate and struggle to cope with the position they find themselves in.

Why it feels so wrong when it goes oh so right…


When you fail, nobody cares.

When you succeed, everyone cares. That’s the difference. That’s what makes success so utterly terrifying.

Every promotion is another green tick in the big box that is you. Every time you say something witty or funny when talking to an attractive female is one moment nearer to that first kiss. Every point you win, goal you score or second you gain is a step closer to championship victory.

And with it, added expectation you’re the person you claim to be.

The greater the set-up, the greater the demand and you won’t know if you’re capable of delivering on your promise until you’re willing to put yourself out there and face these wolves head on.

So how is this possible if you’re scared?

How can someone with stage fright stand up and deliver a performance worthy of the acclaim? How can you deal with the demands of your business without the courage to take the required risks? How do you handle the pressure of intense competition when your competitors are hunting you down?

It’s simple.

If you’re already the person you want to be, you’ll never feel like an imposter

Imagine if you will, there are two people who each want to lose 50lbs. Let’s call these overweight dudes Jim and Fred.

Now, Jim is the kind of guy who has battled with weight his entire adult life (and his childhood too). He has no idea what it feels like to take his shirt off at the beach, let alone gain admiring glances from a glistening six-pack.

He’s a chubby dude living a chubby dude’s life. He wants to be slimmer, but he has no frame of reference and while his personal trainer is giving him every motivational speech under the sun, he doesn’t truly believe anything will change in the long term.

He finishes his 90 minute training session and then goes home and eats a doughnut.

Fred is a little different.

While he’s following the same training schedule and diet plan as Jim (minus the doughnuts) his results are dramatically different. Do you know why?

It’s simply because Fred sees himself as a slim person currently occupying a fat body. Fred has a ‘slim’ mind. That mental shift has already occurred, and it’s now just a matter of time before his body has caught up.

Jim currently sees himself as a fat dude who is trying hard to change his physique. It’s too difficult. In fact, it’s almost impossible to change who you are if you’re actually trying to change who you are.

Does that sound insane?

This next example will hopefully clear everything up.

Are you the poor millionaire?


Have you ever wondered why as many as 70% of lottery winners will bleed their bank accounts dry within seven years?

It’s because they feel like imposters. Once the initial euphoria subsides and they realise they are still the same people, with the same emotional issues and insecurities, they can’t wait to get rid of their cash.

Obviously, this isn’t a conscious choice. Nobody wakes up and screams ‘I’m such an unworthy rich bastard; I’m going to buy a boat today just to prove how undeserving I am’. It’s just something that nags away under the surface – like a devil on the shoulder handing out terrible financial advice.

The money hasn’t been earned, and this gift is just ruining their lives.

They’ve been handed the financial rewards of success without ever being successful.

Entrepreneurs, self-made millionaires and world class entertainers spend years developing their mental strength through a series of mini victories and sometimes, colossal failures. When success finally lands at their feet, they are conditioned to accept and embrace it with open arms, because they’ve paid their dues.

When something is handed to you on a plate – shit turns bad.

So why do entertainers like Robbie Williams, Daniel Day-Lewis and Adele feel like imposters when they’ve obviously spent years honing their craft?

Like our friend Jim – they haven’t made that mental shift. They are still seeing themselves as the awestruck teenager, watching their heroes on stage, dreaming of one day performing to their own captivated audience.

In a strange way, their success feels like a lottery win. A gift they didn’t deserve and this feeling of inadequacy overwhelms them whenever they are thrust into a situation in which they have to deliver on their promise.

The secret to success

Aside from doing and thinking the exact opposite to the 9 reasons stated above. You will only achieve success if you genuinely see yourself as the person you want to be – which of course is a paradox because if this is true – you’re already that person. Alas, the hard part is taken care of.

If you stripped Richard Branson of his wealth and dumped him on the street – he would be a millionaire within a year and a billionaire within ten. That’s who he is. Every decision he will make from this point forwards will be with the sole aim of reclaiming his wealth and status as one of the world’s richest and most successful entrepreneurs.

When a shark has to eat – it eats.

Think about your passion or your dream.

Is this something you merely wish you could achieve or is it something you know you will achieve?

When talking about your goals do you use phrases like ‘One day, I hope to be…’ or do you use phrases like ‘When I am…’ or ‘When I do this…’?

People who hope and wish never get there.

You need to leave the doubt at home.

Focus on what you want and don’t allow any room for deviation.

You can change your mind at any time.  You can quit and do something else whenever you want. There is nothing wrong with choosing a different path. This isn’t failure, this is continual progress.

But whatever you choose to focus on – believe in yourself 100%.

The difference between success and failure is down to you.

Don’t aim for success.

Become it.

About Jamie

Jamie is a guitar teacher and writer who hates the typical 9-5 existence. After quitting his job to enter the world of guitar tuition, he created this blog to document his thoughts and struggles as he takes on societies norms armed with nothing more than his cheeky wit and undeniable charm - Give his Facebook page a like, add him on Twitter or follow his Google+ page and he will repay you with even more awesome words!


  1. Lei Lani Lucero says:

    Wow. Simply wow. I actually read through the nine mistakes before I got to the kicker. Saw myself in some of the mistakes (not as often, but the demons of insecurity still rise up from time to time – I blame myself [and hormones!])
    I am who I want to be. I claim my happiness, my mental state, my emotional well-being, my future, my life, and know that the only one who can change it looks me in the eye in the mirror each morning. Each day, I am a little more ‘me’, a little more confident, a little m ore experienced, and I just frickin’ love this journey. Thanks for list, Jaime. Keep on… you have loyal listeners, and fellow journeyers.

    • Hey, Lei Lani, thanks for your kind words.

      I think we can all see ourselves in these mistakes – certainly I can. They were based around things I’ve done wrong in the past 🙂

  2. So true. Loved #bunchofarseholes LOL.

    And the way you asked me to STOP SKIM READING? That worked, for sure.


  3. Man, this was so inspiring! You really have a way of connecting with words. Especially the last bit where you already are the person you want to be! So true…

  4. Clear Words..Nice 😉

  5. Enjoyed the post. I agree about the too easily distracted. If you’re going to suceed then hard work, focus and quitting other things, are all going to be needed. Top sports stars can put in a full days work of training every day. If we have a dream then full days of dedicaion are needed.

    • That’s so true Peter. I have a post that goes into this in more detail coming up next week.

      • Hi Jamie,

        I too quit my job about one month ago. It was one of the worst jobs I had ever accepted. However, it served its purpose as it propelled me to really think about embracing something I had been engaged in with my own home: redesign and home staging.

        After leaving my job as a customer service specialist, I enrolled in an online home staging and redesign certification course, but felt so overwhelmed by the amount of information and the long “to do list”, that I had to take a break and get involved in hands on creativity. I am back on track today, and hope to complete more ‘assignments’ as I continue through this process.

        Jaime, it is only now since I feel I am a step closer to who I am supposed to be, that I am FINALLY realizing the cues that life had presented to me, albeit on the peripheries; I am drawn to the creative world of interior design, and The Arts in general. I have my dear father to thank for this as I lived through a major reconstruction and remodeling project of my childhood home (completed by my father’s company). Once construction was completed, my father hired an interior decorator (something only the very wealthy would dare to do) back in the early 1980’s.. Our home was the most beautiful home in our humble, middle class neighborhood. Passersby would often stop their cars in front of my home and admire the architecture and beauty and sometimes would ask for a tour!

        The list continues as to my exposure to the world of art, luxury and creativity.

        I can see the struggle Artists experience with gaining respect from their communities and from family and friends. Working in a creative capacity is a luxury as was pointed out by the person who runs the home staging program I am enrolled in.

        I often struggle with feelings of guilt for activities that others may view as a waste of time. As I am entering into a creative field, home staging and redesign, and I have other business ideas that will support the staging and redesign business. When I take a break from studying, I get involved in one of those business ideas: re-purposing items around my home, as well, creating mason jars filled with sand, pebbles, and driftwood, I feel a tremendous amount of guilt, like this is a waste of time and it will never go anywhere. Then I get a moment of “what am I doing”?

        Please tell me, how do you keep on track and how do you stop the feelings of guilt?

        I feel guilty taking the time to write this!

        Adele DeMartino

        • Hi Adele – I am not sure why you are feeling guilt..

          Other people are not your responsibility. More importantly, their opinions of you are not your responsibility. You are in control of your actions, so as long as you are focusing on what makes you happy – let everyone else decide for themselves if they are with you, or against you. Either way – just focus on your goals and don’t worry about anything else.

          Nothing is a waste of time if it brings you joy. If you’re not creating, then you’re just playing with another persons dream.

          Your dreams are more important.

  6. This was great to read! I had a sneaking suspicion that I was always my biggest obstacle but now this article proved it!
    I definitely get easily distracted.. I’m also inclined to get discouraged quickly if I don’t see results quick enough.. I need ot be reminded often that I just need to stick with it!

    • Hey Cathy, my article proves nothing, haha. Just pay attention to where you want to go and the best way to get there.

  7. Hey Jamie,

    I liked reading about Robbie Williams. For some reason, I’ve always thought he’s interesting. 1-2 years ago I watched some video where he went into detail about how he felt like an imposter — and started using cocaine to feel better.

    Honestly, I find it incredibly hard imagining how he could feel that way. His self-esteem seems to be off the charts — at least in all the videos I’ve seen with him on Youtube. Perhaps he’s high on coke on them all?
    Ludvig sunström recently posted..How to Build Something From Nothing And Be #1 at it (the Arnold Effect)My Profile

    • Robbie is a very good actor. In a similar way to how Colin Farrell would often hide his addictions whilst shooting a movie. During Minority Report he says that in every scene, he was struggling to hold it together.

  8. The point on self-sabotage is one of the hidden ones that people don’t consider (myself included). Often it works to ask someone who’s either an expert, or has achieved the same thing you want, for an objective viewpoint. Self-sabotage isn’t always as obvious as the example you used.

    Sometimes I think I’m working toward my goal, but some of the activities I do are a complete waste of time. It takes an outsider to make this obvious to me as I’m too close to the task to notice quickly.
    Razwana recently posted..Why ‘emotions sell’ is incomplete marketing adviceMy Profile

    • I agree that having an outsider, or someone who’s been through it as an objective viewer, is essential in our learning. As a guitar teacher, I’m often pointing out seemingly obvious things that my students don’t pick up on. In terms of self sabotage, I think one of the biggest is a lack of belief in our ability to reach our goals. These are often so subtle, they verge on non existent. A seemingly innocent ‘this is hard’ can start a chain reaction that strips us of our confidence.

  9. Great article! I know I self sabotage myself on some projects.. mostly out of laziness unfortunately.
    Cathy recently posted..Will The Linden Method Work for You?My Profile

  10. Love these reasons. All of them are so great. By the way, I wonder how many people were skim reading and stopped during your third point when you said to stop. It’s so true though – we’ve become conditioned to skim our stories rather than reading them. And a big part of the problem is Facebook. Well, I’d also like to add that the oversaturation of content is contributing to the problem too. If there was less online, there would be less need to skim so much. Although I do wonder if Facebook is really the reason concentration has gone done. I’d almost say it’s exploiting the fact that our concentration is decreased, not necessarily causing it. But I haven’t looked into it much so I could be wrong.
    Steve recently posted..17 Ways Travel Makes You a Better PersonMy Profile

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge