Why We Don’t Pursue Our Dreams

Written by Maya Ackerman

I took a taxi the other day. “You know, I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” said the cab driver to me. “I had this amazing idea for a book, it could have been a bestseller!” he added emphatically.

“Did you ever write it?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” he responded, off handedly.

“Did you ever take the time to write anything?” I asked gently.

“Well, no,” he said finally, this time, a little more quietly.

why_we_do_not_pursue_our_dreamsBooks never written. Songs never sang. Dreams never realized.  What’s most unfortunate is that just like that cab driver, most of us don’t even try.

My Story

Until just a few years ago, I was no exception. I had all these dreams and hopes, and I was doing absolutely nothing about them.

It was too unrealistic. I was far too busy. “Maybe, later, when the time is right,” I kept telling myself.

Just like the taxi driver, I would imagine that had I pursued my dreams, the results would be magnificent! I would be a famous singer. A best-selling author. A Hollywood star – if only I had the time…

Three years ago, I finally decided to give myself permission to do what I’ve always wanted to: I signed up for singing lessons and started to write.

As I delved into singing and writing, I watched my entire life transform. I became more alive. I found myself jumping out of bed every morning, eager to start the day. I had more energy and became noticeably happier.

The difference that pursuing my dreams made to my life was nothing short of astonishing.

Why we don’t pursue our dreams

This got me thinking, why did it take me so long to get started? And what is stopping everyone else from following their own dreams?

After talking to many other people, I realized that underlying our inaction is the very greatness of our dreams.

How do you even start to write a best-selling book? How do you go from someone who has never been on stage, to a famous Hollywood star? How do you start a multi-million corporation if you never as much as run a lemonade stand?

It’s so overwhelming that we have no idea where to start. And when we don’t start, nothing happens. 

How To Get Started 

Our dreams are huge. They are larger than life. In our dreams, we are rich and famous. We live in huge homes and ride fancy cars.

In our dreams, our biggest problem is how to hide from all the paparazzi.

But let’s take a moment and see what really matters here. As alluring as they may be, wealth and fame are not the point. Even if you had all the money in the world, you would still have to do something with yourself.

And when it comes to our happiness, the number of thing that matter is how we spend our time. The good news is that we don’t need wealth or fame to start using our time better.

If you want to be an actor, then acting is the heart of the matter. Whether you are playing a role for the next big blockbuster or at your local theater, you are still acting.

If you want to be a writer, then writing is what really important. Open up your favorite editor and start writing. Want to be a singer? Consider taking singing classes or join a local choir.

Figure out the smallest, least intimidating step you can take that will bring you closer to actually doing what it is that you want to do.

Another advantage of starting small is that it doesn’t drain all of our time and money. When we start small, we make our dreams realistic!

Break down your passion into small, manageable steps, so that you can get started.


But what about the rewards? The fame and the wealth? In time, as you learn and practice, you will become an expert. And then, you will be able to make a living from your passion, and can spend even more time doing what you love.

Let your journey begin!

Some Amazing Comments


About the author

Maya Ackerman

Maya Ackerman, PhD. is a writer, researcher, and singer. Check out her latest book, Work for Love, where she will show you how to discover your passion and pursue your dream job. Don’t forget to visit her blog at and get a copy of her free e-book Hacking Happiness.


  • Thank you for sharing this, Maya! I’m a 21 year old who has been stuck in a rut for a while now, trying to figure out what to do – whether to rise to everyone’s expectations of who I should be or to follow what I know makes me feel happy. The pressure from external sources is sadly overwhelming for a lot of us + I truly believe I was led to your message for a reason.
    Thanks again!

  • Absolutely right. It isn’t even just about your dreams. It’s just about success or progress in general. If you don’t take action you aren’t going to get anywhere. How do you expect to attain a short term goal of getting a promotion? You have to be out there busting your hump, that’s how!

    Great story too. I think a lot of people (especially in this position) just don’t think they are up to par. He may think as a taxi driver, how can he compare to all kinds of great authors? The ironic thing is that most of the authors are not actually good because of education. They are good because they sit down and practice every single day and produce a lot of garbage and every so often some great work.

    Great article.

  • Another thought provoking article Maya – really enjoying your book by the way.
    You make an interesting point about the taxi driver with the bestselling book idea. Execution is more important than inception. Everybody has a fantastic idea or dream but its the vast minority that actually take some steps to achieving it. Ironically, you can have a mediocre idea and actually get much further with it (because you follow through) than the person with a dynamite idea who never gets off his/her butt.
    In a way this is encouraging though. You don’t have to have a dynamite idea to make an imapct. You’ve just GOT to do something!

    • Hi Joe,

      You are soooo right!! This is something that I struggled with a few years ago. I thought that in order to start a business, I must have the best idea in the world.

      Since then, I learned that action is key. Overthinking that leads to inaction is counterproductive, and, furthermore, when we take action we are in a better position to improve on our ideas. Inspiration comes from action, not the other way around!

      Psychologists show more intelligent people tend to act less on their ideas. We must fight against the desire for perfection, and learn to act on impulse from time to time – since action is the only way that anything ever gets done.

      You always bring up such interesting perspectives. I love your comment, as always :-)

      Many thanks,

  • It’s funny to think that people dream about things they will never get. Probably, this is why these are called “dreams”, something that you can imagine while you are sleeping.

    Life in our dreams is exactly as we want it to be. We may be that famous actor or that hero who is saving people and media follows your every single step.

    Dreams awaken the desire to do something, but it’s only 10% of the road to success. The rest of the road 90% is the actions to be taking, the challenges to be faced and the skills that need to be developed.

    I personally on this road and I find it difficult to keep up to the tasks I have to take. When you are starting out it’s painful when you work hard but the outcome small. In this moments I want to quit, but I like what I do. And I keep trying. Someday, something has to work from all my efforts.

    • Hi Ion,

      Indeed, action is key. Dreams without actions are, well, just dreams :-)

      The beginning is always the most challenging time. This is when we have the least experience, and have to the most work. It’s a difficult combination. But it is also a time of great personal growth, and many successful people think of these early years as the most rewarding.

      Keep at it, and good things will happen :-)

      All the best,

  • Maya awesome post thanks for sharing an expanded article. Your article is about taking action, making movement regardless of how small and doing that is the really the beginning to seeing your potential come alive. There is so much in each of us to discover.
    Again, appreciate the well delivered post.

    • Hi Diane,

      Thanks so much for your comment :-) I’m really glad that you enjoyed my article.

      You are so right. There is so much in each of us. I strongly believe that we can do literally anything we really want to do. Our potential is essentially limitless. With a small step every day, we can reach incredible heights, on any mountain we choose.

      All the best,

  • In the beginning… (s)he started. It’s the single biggest issue with getting somewhere. Heck with trying to be perfect first time, nobody ever is. I think the consequence of not doing it is tremendous – it steals our happiness. If we aren’t progressing on the thing(s) we love, how can we experience the happiness?

    A wonderful read, and a great reminder that getting started is the real deal. Thanks Maya!

    • Hi Nick,

      Yes! I love the connection you make between getting started and happiness. Doing things we love, even if we aren’t great at them yet, is the best shortcut to happiness I know. Then, with practice, we also become great at what we love to do. But we don’t even care, because we’re already happy :-)

      Thanks again for the great comment!
      – Maya

  • Well said Maya. Years ago I used to go to one Writer’s Conference after another – firmly entrenched in the “someday I too will be a published author” mode. One day I mustered the courage to say the words to one of the conference coordinators – a published author. She looked at me and said, “You already are a writer, what you need to do is find the courage to tell the world what you have to say.” Six books later – yep, she was so right. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Hi Marquita,

      What an inspiring story!! Thanks so much for sharing it. We need to hear stories like your more. We need to hear more often that dreams do come true.

      Indeed, as your story points out, it all boils down to courage. The courage to admit to ourselves and others that we have dreams. And, of course, the great courge of going after our dreams.

      What a moving story. Thanks again!!

      – Maya

  • Hi Maya, a great post. Your advice is spot on. I think we play lip service to our dreams until the time is right and the passionate energy just takes over. My change came when i moved my mindset over from what i should do and what i thought other people expected of me to-just do what your energy is motivating you towards and trust. And like you I started to enjoy life much more.
    Great post thank you

    • Hi Karen,

      You are so right!!!

      Just doing what you naturally want to do can bring you to the right place. When you do what you love, you feel more energized, and, simply put, you feel like doing it.

      Our society teaches us to detach from our inner campus. It teaches us to do what we are “supposed to do,” which is usually something that we have absolutely no desire to do. When we go beyond this status quo, and follow our internal motivation, then everything falls into place.

      Thanks so much for the great comment!
      – Maya

  • Great post Maya! And an inspiring story! It’s always motivating to hear the tales of people like you who’ve actually gone out and done it. Made that transition from dream to reality.

    You’re right, the biggest obstacle to achieving our goals is the enormity of the task. It just seems too overwhelming so we never even begin. It’s pretty sad, really.

    Like you say, the key is to just get started. Start small and go from there. Because the time will pass anyway, and a year down the road you’ll be wishing you had started today.


    • Thank so much for your comment! You are absolutely right. The time will pass anyway! All the time and energy that we put into a boring job, can instead go towards pursuing what we really want to do. At the very least, our dreams deserve some of our time and effort.

      Thanks again for sharing!
      – Maya

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