What prevents people from taking action, from striving for their goals? In my coaching practice, one of the things we see most is that they are waiting for something. Instead of acting now, they think there will be a more suitable time to find a new job, or lose the weight, or start that business, or write that book, or a number of other goals.

These are the reasons I see most often.

Needing Permission

This is the most common. A lot of people, women especially, are looking to others for approval. It’s sort of the opposite of peer pressure. Instead of feeling pressure to do something, we feel pressure not to do something. We fear the judgment of others. What if I do this and my mother, father, sister, best friend, pastor, that kid I went to grade school with thinks I’m weird, or crazy or dumb or frivolous or selfish, or insert fear here _______. Whew! I’m out of breath just thinking about it.

You can’t let other people sway the decisions about what goes on in your life — or keep you from making them.

It’s time to give up caring what other people think. Their opinions are not more valid than yours. Yes, it’s nice to have people like us and be proud of us, but it’s more important what you think of yourself. Only you know what is best for you.

The only permission you need is yours. If you need someone to tell you it’s OK, I’m telling you now, it’s OK. Go for it.

Striving for Perfection

This is also very common. We find people are waiting until they’re ready. Let me tell you something, you’re never going to feel ready. You become ready by doing.

We tell ourselves we’ll take that vacation when we lose 20 pounds or when we have the perfect mate. Or we’ll get out of that job we hate when we find the perfect alternative or after we take that class or we hone that skill. We’ll go to that live event when we’ve saved enough money or read enough books, except that we never do and then we miss that class or that speech or that mastermind or that reunion or that party.

You don’t need to be fixed. We all want to strive to improve ourselves and learn more, but don’t keep yourself from trying now or doing now because you’re waiting for a better version of yourself. You become the better version of yourself from these new experiences.

This goes for business as well. We wait until we’re certain it will work. We plan and tweak until we run out of time. I remember watching a video series from a business coach who was giving tips on things we can do each day. They were little things like buying pretty file folders and lighting scented candles while you work. And then one day she said, “What you really need is a client.” Bingo!

It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect business cards or filing system or computer program, you need to get down to the doing.

You don’t need to find the perfect color for your website. It will come eventually. But you won’t know what products and services to offer until you work with people who tell you what they need. That only comes with experience. Go get the experience. That’s how it all comes together. Tweak your homepage design later.

Believing the Fairy Tales

Ah, the old lottery mentality. Someone or something is going to come along and make it all happen. Our prince will show up and make our love lives perfect. We’ll get a windfall of money and all of our problems will go away. We’ll find that perfect diet book and suddenly all the missing pieces of our lives will come together. Oprah will find our ebook on Amazon and tell everyone we’re a genius.

It doesn’t work that way. There is no fairy godmother who waves a wand over your life and makes it all better. No amount of praying or meditation or asking the universe is going to make you happy. You have to do it yourself. You have to believe in yourself. And you have to take action. Be your own fairy godmother.

Fear of Failure/Fear of Success

These are two sides of the same coin. Fear of failure is easy to understand. We fear we can’t do it so we don’t try. But fear of success can be more complex. That’s when we fear all of our plans will work out but we still won’t be happy. We’ll lose the weight and still not find the perfect mate. Or we’ll start our own business and realize it didn’t solve all of our money problems. Or we come into a lot of money and realize it doesn’t buy happiness.

Happiness is a mindset. It doesn’t take money or circumstances to make you happy. It takes attitude and gratitude. Don’t let the fear of the outcome (good or bad) keep you from taking the journey. Whether it works out or not, you’re still living. If you don’t try, you’ll never gain any experience or learn any lessons. You won’t know what makes you happy until you test yourself. Don’t wait. Start now.

Have you allowed any of these examples to hold you back? Are you waiting for something? Do you recognize any of these “symptoms” in other people? I’d love to hear what you think. Discuss in the comments section.