6 Obstacles Keeping You From Pursuing Your Passion (and How to Overcome Them)

You have something to say — a story to tell, emotions to stir, imaginations to captivate. But there are obstacles that stand in the way of your success. It’s a lot easier to talk about pursuing your passion than it is to actually do it.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are six of the biggest obstacles keeping you from pursuing your passion, and how to overcome them:

Obstacle #1: You don’t have enough time.

We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. Pursuing what you want in life isn’t a matter of having more time, it’s about focusing on the things that matter.

Consider the 80/20 Rule. If you aren’t familiar, the 80/20 Rule is the observation that most things in life aren’t distributed evenly. Some examples:

  • 20% of the customers create 80% of the profits.

  • 20% of the employees do 80% of the work.

  • 20% of the population own 80% of the wealth.

Think about how this applies to your own life. What things could you work on that will bring you closer to your goals? What tasks are you wasting your time on?

It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of everyday life. Making progress on your goals requires focusing on the “big wins.” Everything else can wait.

If you find yourself wondering how to prioritize, ask yourself, “Will I regret not doing this tomorrow?”

If the answer is yes, move it to the top of your list.

Obstacle #2: You need more money.

There’s a ton of advice out there on how to manage your money, but this one in particular has stuck with me through the years: pay yourself first.

I saved up six months worth of expenses before I left my job as a psychotherapist to pursue blogging and photography. I did this by having 15% of each paycheck automatically transferred into my savings account, before I could spend any of it.

Try this out for yourself. Decide in advance how much you want to have transferred to your bank each payday, then set it up so that it happens automatically. Before you know it, you’ll have saved up a substantial amount of money without even having to think about it.

A little caveat though: It’s easy to fantasize how having more money would be the cure to your creative woes. But the truth is, you don’t need a big bank account to get your ideas off the ground. Forget about paying big bucks to afford Facebook advertising, or shelling out top dollar for the fanciest camera on the market so you can learn photography. Sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got.

Remember, having money is often a result of success, not the other way around. By all means, take control of your finances and start building a foundation. But don’t let a lack of funds keep you from getting things done.

Obstacle #3: You don’t have enough ideas.

Sometimes the well runs dry. You sit down to work on your ideas and can’t seem to come up with anything. It happens to the best of us.

So how do you reignite the creative spark?

Get out there in the world and live.

Do things. Explore. Hang out with motivated people. When these areas are firing on all cylinders, creative synergy begins to form  — ideas start to flow, and you find yourself connecting the dots in ways you never did before. When this happens, don’t forget to write things down. Ideas are fleeting. That’s why it’s important to keep a list of them when they’re fresh in your mind.

If all else fails, become a fan again. When I’m lacking in creativity, I like to indulge in the works of other artists who inspire me to pursue my craft; writers, painters, musicians, filmmakers, and athletes.

Read a book. Watch a movie. Listen to music and let yourself get lost in the melody. Sometimes we need to be on the receiving end of art to remind ourselves of what we’re aiming for as artists.

Obstacle #4: You’re going it alone.

Doing creative work can be a lonely process. Sometimes isolation can improve productivity. Other times, it just plain sucks.

The good news? It’s never been easier to connect with other creative people.

Recently I came across an article I really enjoyed and decided to reach out to the author. I contacted her on Twitter telling her how much I appreciated her work and suggested that we collaborate. She replied, and we ended up having a brainstorming session on Google Hangout. Now we’re planning on guest posting on each other’s blogs, and we catch up regularly to see how we’re both doing with our creative projects.

Use technology to your advantage. Search conversations on Twitter that are relevant to you and add your two cents. Give feedback, share your experience, and offer to team up with other people.

Remember, no man is an island. There’s nothing like having the support and encouragement of your peers. Offer to collaborate with someone who’s doing similar work to you. You never know who you’ll end up meeting.

Obstacle #5: You’re plagued with self-doubt.

“I’m not good enough.”

Four dangerous words powerful enough to kill anyone’s dreams of success.

Most creatives make the mistake of underestimating their unique voice. They assume they have to be the world’s greatest at their craft, or that their idea has to be completely original, and if it isn’t, it’s not worth pursuing.

Think about how many fitness experts there are in the world. How about financial gurus or yoga masters? There are millions. Are they all the world’s best? Do they all have original ideas?

Of course not.

Building a following isn’t about being world-renowned at what you do. It’s about you, the person behind the art, and why people should care.

So give people a reason to care. Be authentic. Tell a story. Create something of value. In a world where so many people follow trends, blaze your own path and do something different. That’s ultimately what will set you apart.

Obstacle #6: Your work isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

Being an artist means being vulnerable. It means being unafraid to put your work out there in the world.

Remember, sometimes it’s not about the result, but the process.

Recently I made it a point to take photos every day and post at least one of them on social media, along with a description of how I took the photo. The feedback was enormous; people asked me all kinds of questions, like what equipment I used and what techniques I employed to capture the shot.

Suddenly, creating art didn’t mean merely posting a photo and calling it a day. It was about engaging with my followers and offering them a glimpse into the creative process.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let these obstacles hold you back from success. You have more control than you think. Commit to taking action and stay the path; your dreams are worth it.


Kevin is the founder of People Passionate – a blog dedicated to helping others pursue their creative ideas. You can download his free guide here: Stop Dreaming and Start Doing: How to Actually Do What You Love. Connect with him on Twitter @ppl_passionate.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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