Nobody sets out with a plan to fail, but so often people let obstacles get in the way of their success.

Nobody sets out with a plan to fail, but so often people let obstacles get in the way of their success. I meet thousands of people at conferences, hockey rinks and movie sets around the world that have a dream of being successful. They start off towards their goal, full of energy and ambition, and then years later we may find them still stuck in the same dead-end job or dreaming of the life they could have had.

Through my own successes in starting up four companies, I’ve figured out a few things that can stall us. Here’s what they are:

1. Time

If you don’t use it wisely, it will become your enemy. We all have 24 hours in a day, and lack of time is actually a lack of priorities. I’ve found that listing my priorities and goals for each day, and tackling the toughest ones first, is optimal for me. That way, the rest of the day seems easier. Update your list regularly, and keep track of time-wasters or “self-sabateurs,” such as social media, too much time at the water cooler, and jobs that don’t directly propel you closer to your goal. Your workday doesn’t have to revolve around the 9-5 schedule — always be ready to work. I have set up loans and acquired sports clients in the wee hours of the morning while relaxing at a bar or other place simply because I was ready to answer my phone.

We have a “lunch is for losers” philosophy in my workplace. This came from a day early in my career as a loan officer when I skipped lunch and answered several phone calls in an hour, that I otherwise would have missed. I gained three new customers, who later referred new clients to me, and netted me a great profit over the years.

2. Lack of focus

Keep your eyes on the prize. Lack of clarity is a major stumbling block to success. Many people start with a clearly defined purpose, but then their purpose becomes blurred. To avoid this, first write out your purpose statement, and then write down your short- and long-term goals. Your goals may change as you go, but constantly check your list to be sure you are still headed straight towards them.

3. Holding back

I’ve observed many of our clients and some Olympic athletes challenge one another, and they often succeed in what seems to be impossible odds. The same is true for business people. How? Because they never give up. The key is to give everything you have, all of the time. I’m never satisfied unless I’ve competed as hard as I can. If you’re not achieving what you want, don’t lower your expectations. Instead, raise your standards.

4. Attitude

Avoid negativity and negative people, starting with yourself. Negative people will drain your energy and hinder your progress, and negative thoughts will slow you down and discourage you. If things are hard, work harder. If you fail, learn from your mistakes. I’ve often thought that 97 percent of the people who quit too soon are employed by the three percent who never gave up. If you focus on problems, you will have more problems. If you focus on solutions, you will have more opportunities.

5. Fear

Fear can be both a motivating force, and an obstacle to success. It can keep you from trying and from reaching towards those really big goals. Are you afraid to fail? Analyze the specific situation and force yourself to break the uncomfortable activity into more manageable steps — or “just deal with it.” Identify and utilize every available resource to build upon your strengths and correct your weaknesses. Focus on what could go right and don’t obsess about future problems. There’s also no reason to unnecessarily call attention to your fears. This will only discourage you, and break down the confidence in others.

I know that real-life situations get in the way, and that some of us have difficulties that seem bigger than others. I had my own struggles starting out, when I came to this country from the Ukraine at the age of 16, with only 17 cents in my pocket. I didn’t speak English, and surviving high school was my main concern. I developed a strong work ethic because I had to in order to survive and it has served me well. I will never buy in to the excuses you may be using for giving up or not continuing towards your success. I know you can ignite your dream and achieve your goals. Obliterate your obstacles and continue on your path. As I always say, success is never owned. It’s rented and the rent is due every day.