The 16 Reasons We Fail in Life (And How to Change That)


Success always starts with failure. If you have a close look at some of the most successful individuals that ever lived, you’ll realize that they all failed big time. Some of these people were widely considered to be massive failures in life. But they all managed to turn things around. As if they were alchemists, they transformed failure into success. How did they do this? They discovered the reasons for their failures, learned important lessons from it and changed how they think about failure. The following will not only show you the reasons why people fail in life. It will also show you how you can avoid these mistakes and what you can do to be successful instead. Even more importantly, this article will help you to discover the great power of failure. We all fail. This cannot be prevented. But we always have the choice to use these (oftentimes painful) experiences to grow stronger in the future. [I also recommend reading the popular article Stop Worrying about Failure; it will profoundly change the way you think about failure.]

If you look at your own life, you will realize that none of your failures were fatal.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Winston S. Churchill

While we all realize that this is true, we don’t act like it. We allow failure to discourage us. As a result, the more we fail, the more discouraged we become. And from a certain point onwards, we keep telling ourselves: “I failed at life, therefore I am a failure in life.” The more often we repeat it, the more we believe it. And once we believe it, the world around us will reflect this belief.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison

When we are confronted with failure, we primarily see all the negative aspects that come with it. We entirely oversee the benefits of failing. Yes, benefits of failing. Each failure provides the opportunity to grow stronger. Failure offers the chance to return stronger, wiser and smarter than we were before. But we have to actively make use of this opportunity. If we don’t, then failure will destroy us.

In almost all cases, success is not the result of getting things right the first time you try. Instead, it comes from gradually discovering how it’s not done. Success is the result of the mental strength to keep fixing what we are doing wrong, until we get it right.

Reason why people fail

We all fail. But not everyone of us gets back up.

In the following you can find the 16 most important reasons why you fail in life and what you can do to be successful instead.

The 16 Reasons People Fail in Life…

… and how to be successful instead.

Failure teaches us two important lessons. The first lesson is that we’re doing something completely wrong. The second lesson does not only teach us that we can always overcome failure. It primarily teaches us that we must (!) get back up and continue the pursuit of our dreams. If we don’t learn these lessons, we will remain lying on the ground not knowing what happened.

Here are the reasons people fail in life and what we can do to change that.

1. Lack of self-discipline

Success requires discipline. As such, exerting self-control over yourself is a central requirement for being successful. If you lack self-discipline, you’re more likely to give up too quickly when problems arise. Similarly, a lack of discipline makes you more likely to give in to short-term temptations that lead you nowhere. If you’re undisciplined, you see no reason in making sacrifices today in order to prosper tomorrow.

However, if you’re disciplined, avoiding temptations and distractions will be much easier for you. Self-control helps you be focused on the aims you pursue, even if that means temporal sacrifice, suffering and abstaining from temptations. In fact, you will see these temptations and distractions as what they truly are: Obstacles on the road to success.

How to overcome a lack of self-discipline?

The big problem with self-discipline is that it needs to be developed. Most people falsely assume some are born with it and others not. It’s a fatal belief. In actuality, laziness and a lack of inner strength are two major factors that prevent many from developing self-discipline. But how should we ever develop discipline, if we continue to avoid doing difficult things which require us to be persistent, strong-willed and determined?

Work on developing and increasing your self-discipline gradually. You can develop more self-discipline for instance by:

  • Increasing your stress tolerance levels.
  • Meditating.
  • Removing distractions.
  • Breaking bad habits.
  • Postponing unbeneficial behaviors.
  • Making plans and rewarding yourself for accomplishing your goals.
  • Tolerating a higher level of emotional discomfort.
  • Exercising regularly.

Let’s continue with the second reason why people fail in life.

2. Lack of persistence

You can be talented and intelligent. But if you don’t combine these two with persistence, you’ll fail eventually. A lack of persistence is a great obstacle to success. There are so many incredibly talented and gifted people who fail time and time again because they rely too much on their talents. They are not willing to persist until they’ve completely mastered what they’re doing. Instead, they quit when the going gets tough.

If you think that a lack of persistence is causing your failures, find ways to stop giving up too quickly. While it’s certainly true that persisting when you’re stuck in a dead end will lead you nowhere, persistence is all about finding new approaches and making adjustments. Persist when you’re confronted with difficulties and problems. Continue fighting for the accomplishment of your dreams, even if it’s uncomfortable. And just because you’re stuck in a dead end does not mean that there are no other ways to reach your goals.

3. Unwillingness to swim against the current

It’s always easier to swim with the flow. But it will lead you where everyone else goes. It will only give you the same results everyone else accomplishes. Society is designed to make you swim with the current, even if you’re not good at it. It puts a great number of obstacles in the path of those who seek to strive for their own greatness by going against the current. People simply feel threatened by those who challenge prevailing opinions. At the same time, however, society greatly rewards many of those who successfully managed to go against the stream. Without these individuals, there would be no airplanes, electricity and computers.

Have the courage to meet decisions that go against existing opinions. Swim against the current if it’s in your nature to do so. Pursue those activities that align with your innate strengths and talents.

4. Lack of planning

If you don’t have a proper plan, you are less likely to succeed in life. It doesn’t matter if the plan is imperfect or if things are not going to work out exactly as planned. All that matters is that you have a plan. It will help you to steer all your actions in one direction. Without a clear plan, you’ll most likely go left, right, forwards and backwards, but you’ll never come closer to your goals. The importance of planning is supported by scientific research which highlighted that entrepreneurs are less likely to fail if they created a plan.

Develop attainable, measurable, specific and time-bound plans. Carefully think things through before you start pursuing a specific goal. Create plans on what to do next and how to respond when confronted with problems. Update your plans regularly and make adjustments if necessary.

5. Fear of failure

Being afraid of failure paralyzes us. It makes us reluctant to seize rewarding opportunities. We fear failure, which is why we don’t even try. But isn’t that the greatest failure of all? Isn’t not trying worse than failing?

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”
Robert F. Kennedy

Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid of not having the courage to try. It’s important to realize that the fear of failure is a major obstacle on the road to success. By overcoming it you can take an important step in the right direction. Progress can only be accomplished by taking one step after the other. It doesn’t matter if you slip here and there. All that matters is that you get back up and continue walking.

Don’t see failure as something that is designed to punish you. Instead, use the lessons you’ve learned from all your failures to pursue your dreams with even greater determination.

6. Wanting too much too quickly

A great number of people dream of accomplishing the greatest things. They set themselves incredibly challenging goals, but are quickly intimidated once they realize how high the mountain they’re standing in front rises into the sky. Consequently, they quickly become discouraged because of a lack of results. These are the people that (figuratively) hike for an hour, only to realize that the distance to the mountaintop hasn’t become shorter, which is why they give up.

There’s no problem with aiming high and dreaming big. In some cases, you might be setting yourself up for a long and hard fall by aiming too high. But in general, it will encourage you to try hard and to strive for greatness. The real problem lies in aiming high without considering the dedication, effort and work it takes each day to come anywhere close to your goals. In line with this thinking, it’s a massive problem if we shoot for the stars, without thinking about developing a proper means of transportation that will get us there.

It’s a human tendency to seek instant results. For this reason, break your goals down to avoid becoming discouraged too quickly. If you set major and minor milestones on your path to the mountaintop, you keep your motivation at a high level during the whole journey.

7. Lack of belief in yourself

Intelligence and talent are not necessarily what separates successful people from unsuccessful ones. The major difference lies in the fact that successful individuals believe in themselves. They believe that they can accomplish the goals they set themselves. They believe in their ability to find solutions to the challenges they are confronted with. Their strong belief in the capacity to figure things out as they progress encourages them to seize opportunities that seem initially too big to tackle for them. Successful people understand that nothing will work for them if they are not absolutely convinced of it.

While unsuccessful people seek for reasons why things are not working for them, successful ones have the necessary determination to make things work for them. It’s therefore of the upmost importance to realize how essential it is to believe in what you do. If you believe in yourself, you will be less likely to give up prematurely. Instead, your conviction will fuel you to keep searching for a solution until you finally find one.

8. Lack of humility

Despite being pretty unpopular, humility is considered by many successful individuals as an important key to success. Some even consider it to be vital for success. As it turns out, humble people are more likely to be high performers, as scientific research indicates. But there are many other advantages of being humble. It helps you to think less about yourself (not to be confused with thinking less of yourself). Humility helps you to assess realistically your strengths, weaknesses and limitations. But it will also help you to realize that there’s a great deal of things that you don’t know, yet.

For many unsuccessful or semi-successful people, humility is the missing ingredient. They’ve won a fight here and there and all of a sudden think they are experts about the art of war, figuratively speaking of course.

9. Excuses

If you blame other people for your own mistakes and problems, you are destined to fail. At the same time, we all are confronted with problems that derail us from our paths. It’s only when we stop using these problems and challenges as excuses that we will make progress in life.

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
Benjamin Franklin

Successful individuals don’t allow excuses to stand between themselves and their goals. They understand that making excuses will lead them nowhere. For this reason, they resist the temptation of finding a “feel-good excuse,” accept responsibility for their actions and start taking matters into their own hands.

There’s always a reason that justifies inaction. Don’t let your fear of failure, rejection or change confine you within the boundaries of your comfort zone.

10. Unwillingness to network

You’ll miss quite a number of opportunities if you don’t invest time to build strong relationships with those who can help you. Unfortunately, many underestimate the importance of networking. Our relationships can help us to reach out to others and to convince them of working with us, not against us. Networking helps us to meet exactly those people whose interests align with our own.

11. Inclination to give up

Giving up automatically leads to failure. Unsuccessful people tend to give up way too easily. They fail almost always because they simply didn’t try hard enough. They dream of succeeding smoothly without too much effort. This way of attaining success, however, is extremely rare if not even nonexistent.

It will always be more comfortable to simply give up when the going gets tough. Giving up spares you a lot of trouble, hard work and pain. But it also takes your chance to succeed.

Don’t just simply give up when confronted with difficulties. It’s not important if you occasionally fall to the ground. What matters is that you keep trying, until you find a way to accomplish your aims. For as long as you always get back up on your feet, failure cannot defeat you.

12. Being resistant to advice

Some people fail because they do not accept valuable feedback. Instead, they seek – for various reasons – to argue why they believe what they’re doing is right. Even if their endeavors are unsuccessful, they remain resistant to advice. These kind of people prefer being right (in their own subjective point of view) than opening themselves up for feedback. The reason for this is simple. Listening to feedback and other people’s advice resembles the acknowledgment of their own faults, which is something they try to avoid at any cost. As a result, they prefer to convince others that they’re right instead of learning to do things right.

Especially in situations when we are confronted difficulties and failure, it’s important to be open to feedback and advice. Not every person may be in a good position to help us. But those who can give us advice should be listened to closely. What they tell us might not be comfortable. But if it is constructive feedback that helps us to gain important insights and to learn important lessons, it is well worth it.

13. Refusal to learn from past mistakes

Unsuccessful people are deeply hurt by their mistakes and failures. As a result, they do everything they can to quickly forget these painful experiences. The problem with this attitude is that doing so does also bury the important lessons and insights that come with these mistakes.

But what happens if we choose to ignore important lessons? We are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again, until we finally get the message.

Don’t bury your mistakes. Analyze what you did wrong and see what you can learn from that experience. Find out why your strategy did not work out. Challenge yourself to develop better approaches that help you to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

14. Inability to overcome distractions

A person’s ability to ignore distractions can be a central factor for success. The way you deal with distractions can either make or break your success. On the one side, if you are unable to withstand the temptation of distracting yourself, your workflow will suffer from it. If you continuously switch from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram, you’ll lose sight of what is really important. Even worse, you will be less likely to focus all your attention on the task at hand, which worsens the output.

On the other side, if you have the necessary mental strength to abstain from these distractions while working, you will be much more productive.

15. Procrastination

Something that distinguishes successful individuals from many others is their ability to avoid procrastination. It is an important capability that helps them to keep their productivity at a constant high level.

When it comes to procrastination, there are two types of challenges. The first problem many people are confronted with is that they simply cannot get started. They procrastinate for hours, because they try to keep putting something off. The second problem may arise as soon as people are confronted with difficulties or problems. The occurrence of these kinds of challenges leads many people to procrastinate instead of working toward solving the problem.

16. Failure to take responsibility

The unwillingness to take responsibility is closely related to making excuses. Both have in common that we seek the fault for our situation outside of ourselves. It is a fatal thing to do, as we give away our control. If we don’t assume responsibility for what happens in our lives, we are not in a position to do anything about it. In order to solve the challenges we are confronted with, we must be in a position of control. Otherwise, everything that happens to us happens by coincidence or accident, which means we cannot do anything to change that.

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.”
Janet Fitch

I hope you enjoyed reading this article about the major reasons why people fail in life. What do you think why people struggle in life? We’re excited to hear your opinion in the comment section below.

Stay victorious!


About Author

Steve is the founder of Planet of Success, the #1 choice when it comes to motivation, self-growth and empowerment. This world does not need followers. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Join us in the quest to live life to the fullest!


  1. Hi Steve,

    This was a really well thought out article. You touched on many points that really hit home for my own personal journey towards personal development.

    I had to overcome alot of failure and stay persistent towards my goals.

    The day my life changed was when I accepted responsibility for everything in my life. Prior to that, I was not honest with myself and I always deflected my own short comings to some external factors.

    Once I got rid of the excuses, I have managed to change my life to a positive trajectory. I am an entrepreneur and a coach. It has been a long journey but it has been worth it.

    Time to share this article on my Twitter!

    • Hi Corey,

      Thank you for leaving your comment. I’m happy that you enjoyed reading this article. It’s great to hear that you’ve managed to overcome the obstacles we all are confronted with. Fantastic that you’re making good progress in life, that’s how it should be.


  2. Christopher Lyerly on

    I am a 13 year old kid and when I red this I felt so deep. Before I red this whole page I would always slack off and now that I red this, I want to change the way I do things because I want to be successful. I am so happy I found this page. 🙂

  3. Quite an inspiring piece!
    Your words are concise; your diction simple
    And your facts thought-provoking.
    Your piece is quite timeous as I happen to be working on a goal that is rather challenging.
    Trust that the lessons thereof
    Will be of immense help.

    Kudos Steve,
    Will be glad to read your next article…

    Much respect.

    Kwarsen Hoi…

  4. Muhammed Nishab on

    There are so many articles that suggest about being successful, but those article are not irrelevant or authentic but this one is great. It really suggest the right reasons about being successful. Thank you

  5. Hi Steve

    Everyone has an opinion based on their experience and/or research etc. We all can learn from each other.

    I’ve sometimes succeeded without failure. You can learn from others failures without failure. This is possible. Yes their are many who failed and then learned from there failures but the success is not because they failed but because they figured out why they failed and then corrected what they were SAYING.

    All possible reasons why one can fail all comes down to just one main reason: wrong or incorrect thinking and believing.

    I read the only reason for failure is to quit. Ever wondered why people quit? Same reason for the 16 reason in this post, which are all caused by wrong thinking.

    When your thinking and believing is wrong or incorrect then your either going to quite or any of the 16 (reasons in this article) your going to do.

    According to your ACTIONS your RECEIVE.

    Say you have a tooth ache and you ignore it. Then eventually you have an abscess. You now regret not LISTENING to your body. You kept SAYING “I’ll go to the dentist next week.” Each week you SAID the same thing again. Now that is FAILURE.

    First you didn’t LISTEN then SAID the wrong thing. That’s FAILURE.

    What do you think Steve?

    “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” – Mark 9:23
    Yoda was right when he replied to Luke: – “I don’t BELIEVE it.” Yoda: – “That is why you FAIL.”

  6. This is of the best articles that pass through my arteries. It is a good and important one. I have learnt a lot of piece from it. Thanks a lot

  7. This is a great piece that life-transforming and although I have not experienced my greatest successes and my greatest failures, I’m glad that I find this in the right time in which I’m tussling for my goals

  8. Genetics plays a crucial role whether we are capable or not to reach success. Not all of us are gifted beings, with above average emotional and analytical inteligences, so that’s the reason why very few people depict their amasing lives on Instagram or Facebook, just to remind us, me included, that the system is made to keep losers out of the ship. Life is over for me and many others, we are just following our survival instincts.

    • Pretty much like it. Today don’t matter if you are talented or if you have amazing abilities, this is all for nothing if you don’t have the lucky to be born in the right place. You may success in every point of the article and still fail hard in life if you are not born in the right place and have the right opportunity. Your family and society plays an important hole in this, as it will make a Mindset. That’s why more than 90% of people that are born poor will die poor. The world is not for everyone, only the strong may lead and the weak will be used as resources. Success is not for everyone.

  9. Francisco Mkemwa on

    Frankly I have inspired with this valuable minerals in my head,Failure makes us strong.Finally I realized that self control or discipline sound like a backbone to recently and next success.

  10. Hmmmmn beautiful n wonderful educative piece. My mentality on success n how to go about I’d being reshaped after reading your article.Its my desire to implement n share too. God bless you

  11. Thanks so much Steve Mueller,

    This is so wonderful and good breaking down, I now understand where my problems are and am going to work on them.

    lack of self belief, always afraid to compete with others.
    procrastination : waiting at the right time to do something.
    not taking responsibilities .

    • Here’s one that will definitely succeed. Way to go Cele ! Please check back to report your progress and inspire many !

      God Bless !

  12. The reasons are true. I am failing at the moment due to exactly the same reasons. I have always know the mistakes I was making but just ignored them all along. Hence my current state of having no career at 40.

    Just dont know what to do

  13. It is a beautifuly written article that illustrates success and the reason (s) for an individuals failure or success.
    A person that writes an article that did succeed may or may not fully understand one that failed because they didn’t fail.
    Not everyone succeeds in life and millions of examples are occurring. Handicaps, both physical and mental, veterans, circumstances out of ones control.
    The list is endless. In my particular case, the challenges have overwhelmed me. Both from internal and external circumstances. There are no answers sometimes. That’s just a life.
    Thank you regardless of my situation.

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