What Is Stopping You From Achieving Your Dream?

What Is Stopping You From Achieving Your Dream?

What is stopping you from achieving your dream? It doesn’t matter what the dream is: building a straw bale house, a tiny house, a small house, changing your job, changing a relationship, or anything else. The answer is always the same. You are.

It’s so simple and yet so often can seem difficult to change or overcome. The truth is that you are always able to create the vision you dream of. Always.

I would love to hear about your personal experience with this. Perhaps you have a story to share that exemplifies this point. Or maybe you don’t agree with what I’m saying, don’t understand what I mean by it, or otherwise want to share your feelings about it. Please join the conversation in the comment section below no matter how the statement has landed on you.

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36 Responses to What Is Stopping You From Achieving Your Dream?

  1. Caitlin November 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    A lack of funds is stopping us from achieving our dreams. We live within our means and save what we can, but we feel trapped at the moment due to lack of opportunities or success within attempts to create our own.

    • Christine Chen March 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      Lack of money seems to be a resounding theme. I think it’s important to recognize this as a real problem for some people. My husband and I are on trying to get to the point where we’re financially independent and don’t have to work for a living. We live with my in-laws, and we don’t spend much money, but it still takes quite a bit of time to get to that point where you feel like you really don’t need to work (for money) anymore. It’s just reality that it takes money to live, I guess. In the meantime, it can feel a little bit like we’re wasting our time waiting for our real lives to start. We’re on our way, but we haven’t yet achieved our dreams yet–mostly because of lack of money!

      • Andrew March 13, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

        I imagine that you are speaking for a lot of people Christine. I know that we often feel the same way. For us, and it sounds like for you as well, living within our means is key. We want a rich and fulfilling life, and we have learned (or are still learning I should say) that money only plays a small part in that. It is taking years to unwind what we have been taught by advertising agents our entire lives: that money brings happiness. That said, money does help in certain places, so we are creating a balance between the desire for money and the desire for less money based work. I hope that makes sense…

        • Christine March 15, 2014 at 1:25 am #

          I’m with you, Andrew! Glad you’re sharing your story and perspective. We need more voices like yours.

    • Andrew March 14, 2014 at 8:47 am #

      Hi Caitlin. I just read your post again and really felt your response. One of the things I tell people all the time is to follow their passion. If you are passionate about something and that intersects with the public in some way (i.e. they desire what you are passionate about), then success will come. There may be failures at first, but it will come.

      I have two examples. 1) Gabriella and I have a business of teaching people to build straw bale houses. We have run this business for many years and with great success. It started out very rough as people thought we were crazy: “you want to build a house out of what?”, but it has come around to be very successful.

      2) My brother in law loves to fish. That’s pretty much all he has ever really enjoyed doing. I remember thinking he was going to spend his life scrounging for money because I didn’t think it was possible to turn recreational fishing into a quality job. He proved me wrong and managed to follow his passion to a place where he captained a multi million dollar yacht for several years. He got to live on the yacht full time, harbored in Miami, and fish whenever he wanted to. He has since left that job, but continues to create a great life through fishing!

      Hope that helps keep you inspired!

  2. Laura February 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    My partner and I are in the process of moving to a much smaller city, in the hope that one day we can buy our own home and some land. But reading your posts has made me rethink that process. Maybe it should be “buy some land and then build our own home”. But money is an issue, for sure. Could it be that it is only an issue because our dream wasn’t vivid enough before? So we didn’t put the right financial planning into place?

    • Andrew February 4, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

      Hi Laura. It’s an interesting question you ask. Perhaps the clarity of your dream will help solidify the funding necessary to achieve it. It’s difficult to know what comes first, but once a vision is strong and you are lined up with it, I believe you will start to see things fall into place.

  3. Laura February 4, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    Thanks, Andrew. It’s funny – we’re moving out of our current congested, excessively expensive city because we couldn’t get a big enough space in which to live, it seemed. But now (more wondering!) I am suspecting it is because we don’t have enough land on which to live. Yes, we do have a lot of “stuff”, but I could give up much of mine if it meant having our own house on our own plot of land. I feel like I can’t take a deep breath in the city, nowadays. Too many people through the walls, if you follow me.

    I have a passionate interest in sustainability and I think learning how to live off grid is becoming an essential survival skill. I’d love to see an article from the two of you about how you define “homesteading”.

    • Andrew February 4, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      I love the introspection. Good stuff. I think Gabriella may have written something on homesteading on the site. Check it out. If not, that’s a good idea!


  4. linda hill February 6, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    I have wanted to live small for a while but yes it is the money. I am 65 and living on small SSI and having to live with my children which is turning me grayer by the day. I love being by my self, so how does one generate the money to get started. I have downsized quit a bit I own mostly clothes and keepsakes. No furniture cause I have given it to my kids. I would like to live in a tiny house and put in it only what I need. Thanks for listening linda

    • Andrew February 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

      Hi Linda (and Cate). Thanks for reaching out. This is a great question and one that we have gotten quite a bit recently. It is a question that deserves a longer answer than a simple response can offer. As such, we will take the time to write a longer blog entry about this in the coming weeks. Hopefully we can address the challenges well and offer some simple and real solutions. Stay tuned…

  5. Cate P. February 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    I am in a similar situation and would love to share ideas and solutions. Is there a way for us to connect by email? Thanks.

    • Andrew March 14, 2014 at 8:47 am #

      Did you and Linda ever connect Cate? Hope so…

  6. Laurie Jerdo February 19, 2014 at 5:26 am #

    What keeps me from my dream is my home that I currently own. Hoping to sell or rent..this year so I can move to northern Ca.Trying to dispose of things I “collected”,plus I was a picture and clothes horder…

  7. Jeanne February 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    I agree that “you” are the one who stands in your own way most of the time. You CAN make your dreams come true…but you have to dig deep to really understand exactly what your dreams are and work towards making it happen. Money is a big problem for many of us but we can usually find ways to cut corners and pinch pennies if we want something badly enough.

    In reading your older blog postings, I notice that your own dreams and ideas have changed over your history. You think you want or need something until you get it and then you realize that it doesn’t really fit you. The tiny house that you’ve finally built is beautiful and fits the needs you finally understood about yourselves. Congratulations!

    And thank you for your thought provoking posts!

  8. L.E. March 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    Things owning me, instead of me owning them – is stopping me from achieving my dream.
    Before I bought this Supersized house I had lots of stuff in storage and was moving frequently for many reasons. At one point while finally unpacking everything I realized I owned 9 can openers. Yep, 9 of them, I had no idea where something was and if I needed it, I went out and bought a new one. I had two different storage units in two states. I had no idea what I had and was like an ostrich with its head in the sand hoping it would all just magically go away.
    I suspect my things still have some ownership over me.

    • Andrew March 14, 2014 at 8:52 am #

      This makes total sense. I have heard this from others as well: the idea that when one can’t find something they buy another and how that perpetuates and exacerbates the problem.

      We have a similar situation in that we have a small storage unit in Colorado where our son goes to school and one here in Oregon that contains stuff from our “previous life” as large home owners. We are planning a sale for this summer in both units. There are a few things that we want to keep, but the vast majority will either be sold or donated. What’s funny is that we can only name a few things in the units. The rest we seem to have forgotten about, so I imagine we don’t need it anymore.

      Now we look at the units as a fun thing because they are like a small bank account! We have some nice things that serve us in our life anymore, but someone else will love them and pay for them (the majority of the stuff anyway). What a nice transition for those items: something enjoyable for someone else and money for us to support our current lifestyle of simplicity.

  9. Haley March 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    I am a senior in high school, about to start college. I want to build a tiny house of myself but find myself stopped through the uncertainty of the transition and the lack of money caused by attending college. My commitment is not to my stuff, it’s to my college. A freeing yet restricting time in my life.

    • Andrew March 16, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

      Hi Haley. Thanks for sharing. I would suggest that you can do many different things at this transition, but perhaps the most important is to focus on that which brings you the most inspiration. For me, that was going to college (at your age) and I got so many incredible gifts from that experience (including meeting my wonderful wife Gabriella). There will always be time to build a tiny house. Enjoy the dorms, on campus housing, off campus housing or whatever you choose. Some of those options are “free” as they are part of your tuition. Take the time to really feel into the tiny space you have (the dorm room, for example) and then you can build your dream home in time. Keep in mind that many college students change their surroundings completely after school, so you may even end up in a different part of the world. Hard to bring a tiny house with you to Spain! 🙂

      Whatever you do, stay inspired and find the joy in your day to day. 🙂

  10. Cheli March 28, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    This is a great questions that I ask myself often. I think my answer is the fear of the unknown, the fear of change, and even the fear of not truly knowing WHAT my dreams are.

    A couple weeks ago I had a light bulb moment where I realized I’m tired of the mundane routine each and every day and feeling I have no purpose in life. I realized that I’ve been living a life of safe decisions without taking chances or living life to the fullest. That’s when I decided it’s time for change and I came across your site. I’m now obsessed with the tiny house movement and I’m determined to do whatever I have to so I can build my own.

    Thank you for being sharing your story and being such an inspiration!!!

    • Andrew March 28, 2014 at 10:05 am #

      What a great message Cheli! I’m so happy to hear that you had your light bulb moment and PAID ATTENTION to it. You might be surprised how many people have that moment but are stuck too deeply in the fear to acknowledge it. Good for you. Your fears are very common (not to make light of them) and so I know they can be surpassed. Seems like you are on the path to doing so…Yahooooo!

      • Tammy June 10, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

        I too have had fear of finally taking that leap. Have forever dreamed and planned what it will be like to be in my smaller space, have saved money etc. But it has been only ME who has stalled it all. I have even removed most of my possessions over time, so have become quite ready!

        I came across your article and the lightbulb came on!

        Finally jumped, wrote necessary emails and am just days away from owning my (rather large 900 sq. ft….but dreamed of) old 1940’s store…open space with loft, with half acre here in rural Nova Scotia.
        Still scared of the process and know there are hurdles, but am realizing it’s not so scary after all.
        Thank you. And now the dream continues, but in a more active way!

        • Andrew June 25, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

          That’s awesome Tammy! Hope everything is as exciting and inspiring as you could have imagined!

  11. Kim March 31, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    The one thing stopping my is also my biggest asset to the dream. My husband! We are definitely together on building a tiny home, but it seems he’s the biggest hurdle when it comes to just “doing it”! We have a great trailer that would work beautifully. We traded a smaller wood trailer for this one so it was FREE! We have the funds, which it seems sometimes we don’t….but why don’t we have the funds….1) buying “stuff” we do not need (that’s my problem) 2) paying for things we don’t need (motorcycle…that’s my husbands) 3) mis-allocating our money to things….and the list can go on and on and on. I watched the video that Garbiella posted about Dee Williams…wow, what an eye-opener! I’m showing that to my husband as soon as he wakes up. Oh, another thing stopping us is not knowing where to start or how to start. My husband is a shade-tree mechanic/home repair/plumber/jack-of-all/master of none! He can fix things like the trap under the sink with a radiator hose and two water clamps, until the master plumber can be called. I hope this makes sense because my dream our dream is right at our finger-tips, literally but yet it seems so far away. Thanks for reading! Kim Moore

    • Andrew April 2, 2014 at 10:20 am #

      Hi Kim. Sometimes it is hard to know how or where to start; however, the good news is…you have already started. You have a trailer. You are aware of your patterns that get in the way. You are both on board with the concept. Those are all great starting points. the next thing will be for you to really investigate what it means to live tiny. What emotional aspects of your lives are you fulfilling with the shopping and the motorcycle, etc.? What will be different if you live in a tiny house? You can start going through your things and paring down to what you truly need. Perhaps you have 3 spatulas when you only really need one. Consider design options for your new home. What size is realistic? Hope this helps CONTINUE you on your journey (not start you since you have already started). 🙂

  12. Xiomara May 20, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Hello to all!

    First of all, Andrew, I would like to thank you for asking this question. It is something that I struggle with on a daily basis having just finished my undergraduate studies and now facing the “real world”.

    I think that aside from financial restrictions (my second biggest obstacle), the fear of failure is a huge factor. Especially for someone like me who doesn’t like taking risks. I know that I have all too often let fear get in the way of moving forward with something that I feel strongly about. I am more aware of it now, but changing that is not so easy. It’s a work in progress. So I agree that ultimately it comes down to the individual.

    Also, through my experience as an employee in the family business (working 16+ hour days, 6-7 days a week) and being an undergrad student and spending three years abroad in Spain and France, I have learned that we tend to underestimate the value of what has already been lived. I think we have to appreciate those experiences, whatever they may be, in order to have a clearer view of what our dreams may be – and for the record, I’m not a 100% on that yet. But, after living in an 8x10ft room for two years (with just a micro fridge and hot plate, and shared toilet and shower) I know that I don’t need much space to live in. Everything I own is in this room. I now know that I want to be debt free and live simply so I can focus on the things that give meaning to my life. In that respect, I find what you and your family have done very inspiring! I will definitely keep your website as reference and inspiration for when I get around to building my own tiny home. Keep up the good work!

    • Andrew June 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

      Such great thoughts here Xiomara. I love the inspiration of your words. Jim Carrey (the comedian) recently spoke to this as a keynote speaker at a graduation. he said we can choose to come from one of two places: love or fear. Being that THIS moment is all we have, and we can choose from which place we come (love or fear), it makes the most sense to choose love. After all, we can fail at trying to do things we don’t want just as easily as we can fail trying to do the things we do want.

      Wise words for a funny guy!

  13. Elisabeth May 21, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    I have actually been browsing through your site for a few days, which I stumbled across while researching (think twenty tabs at a time) the tiny house moment. I am 25 currently, but have known I wanted to live a scaled down, tiny, lifestyle since before I graduated high school. I have done extensive research on homesteading and sustainability, as well as some initial research into what regions I might want to purchase land in. I didn’t realize until about a year ago that tiny was my goal. I had been considering RVs and campers for a long time. That isn’t really my point here though.

    I guess my biggest obstacle at this point isn’t desire, but, like some many who have commented before me : money. I have a pretty good idea of where I want to start, and I have absolutely fallen in love with your tiny house plans/spec specifically because I feel that what you have outlined here is precisely what I want, and need for my lifestyle. Being 25, I know I have plenty of time to figure it out, and make it happen, but I am incredibly impatient. So for now, I’m extensively researching layouts, plans, materials, and equipment – so that eventually I can build my home, myself (with assistance I HOPE!).

    • Andrew June 12, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      Sounds like you are on the right path to making this happen for yourself Elisabeth. That’s great. Patience is a good thing to practice, especially when looking at a long term goal like housing. After all, making a rush decision about design or location may come back to bite you later on.

  14. Frank June 11, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Nothing now – For a while what was stopping me was money and a hard to convince wife. After about a year of just researching and constantly teaching and showing her about certain things she was finally on board. We sold our house and purchased a house that is just over half the size of what we had, has several acres of land and is half the cost. I estimate our savings to be around $800 – $1000 per month off the top. Not to mention saving on utilities and much more.

    I know some things are easier said than done, but I really want to encourage someone who may be reading this–and all you need is that little extra push–to get out of the rat race and everything that our society enslaves us in. What you choose to give up etc… is absolutely up to you. For example, I gave up my mobile phone 3-4 months ago and it’s been amazing. That’s one thing for me personally that I found was not needed along with the bill and the time wasted all these years looking at a screen. Again, find YOUR thing(s) and enjoy what life has to offer.

    Try to find those things that aren’t needed in life and let them go. If you can’t (which I know) right away, simply put that on your long term to do list. For me, it’s the fact that I’m getting out of the IT industry because I’m so sick of computers etc… Find what makes YOU happy and go with it.

    If I may, please go to YouTube and look up a video called Life is Easy by Jon Jandai. Being in the U.S. is certainly different from Thailand, but you can take away something by listening to what he’s saying. It’s 15 min long, but after watching it, for me, that was my push. I hope you all find your way. Remember, food, water, shelter, and medicine are necessity and happiness goes a long ways with that also.

    • Andrew June 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      Thanks for sharing this Frank. Sometimes it’s the last step or jumping off that is the hardest. I trust your words will be the inspiration that someone has been waiting for.

  15. Mary January 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

    Andrew, you’ve hit the nail on the head! It IS ME stopping me from going after my tiny dream.
    It’s also me not wanting to divorce and take half of everything (and murder just doesn’t sit right with me, so that is definitely out of the question too)!

    • Andrew January 18, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

      I would agree with you that divorce and murder are not top priorities for most (sane) people. 🙂 Perhaps your husband would be on the same page if you got to experience a tiny house for a while before making the big change…?

  16. Mikki Jaeger April 21, 2015 at 6:46 am #

    Love the idea of tiny houses and living off the grid. I am curious a out your children. They were 11 and 12 when you built your tiny house. Where are they now? You mentioned your son as being given in boarding gate school and living in a pop camper. HOW old is he? There is no mention of your daughter, just your dog.

    • Andrew April 26, 2015 at 10:47 am #

      Hi Mikki. I think you may be a bit confused on our living situation. No worries…it’s a bit confusing! 🙂

      Our daughter was the one who came to Mexico with us when we started out tiny lifestyle adventure in a pop tent trailer on the beach. She was 11 at the time. Our son was 14 at the time and he went to college prep boarding school in Colorado to follow his dream of playing high level ice hockey. Our daughter is now 15 and lives at home with us. Our son is 18 and graduates high school next month. Our daughter has a small cabin that she uses for sleeping and her school work (she is homeschooled) and our son has a small treehouse he uses for his own private space when he comes home from school. Both of them spend the majority of their time in our hOMe when they are around as that is the central space and where we all like to hang out together. The smaller cabins are used primarily for sleeping for the kids.

  17. Rene November 9, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

    Hello, Well I got tired of waiting for someone to have a change of heart about how they wanted to live their life with me and just left. I am on the road traveling doing work/trade and dreaming………..no making notes about how to build my tiny house((http://wwwtinyhousedesires.wordpress.com)) I have started blogging with the hopes of monetizing but also still seeking various ways to be a virtual assistant so that I can travel/work and save for my dream home all the while. It is not easy but it is an experience I am enjoying if anyone needs an assistant well feel free to hit me up because unfortunately like everyone else I want to feel that security of funds available, even though most stops have supplied room and food. I am also seeking a vehicle if anyone knows of a place besides craigslist, I am searching there for something travel worthy but extra cheap or free. Thanks for reading.

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