We all have financial goals that we want to achieve in our lives.  Whether you’re hoping to get promoted to Vice President and earn an annual salary of $250,000 or start your own successful business so you can be your own boss, your goals are what give you focus and keep you motivated when all you want to do is lay on the couch watching re-runs of The Golden Girls.

Unfortunately, many people will never reach their goals.  Sometimes the problem is that they set their sights too high.  For example, if your goal is to be elected president of the United States you are likely to be disappointed.

But for the most part, the only thing keeping people from reaching their goals is themselves.  You see, we’re all irrational beings with emotions that can cause us to make bad decisions.  Despite our best intentions we end up shooting ourselves in the foot and messing everything up.  A lack of confidence in one’s own knowledge and decision making ability is perhaps the most common way we hold ourselves back.   Let’s look at a few different examples of how self-doubt can keep us from reaching our goals.

Self-doubt causes inaction.  Have you ever delayed making a decision simply because you felt unsure of yourself?  Maybe you knew what you wanted to do but you were afraid of failing or looking like a fool.  For years I kept telling myself that I needed to start investing my money in the stock market to build wealth.  But I always felt that I needed to learn more before I could make educated decisions.  Unfortunately that meant I missed out on a lot of opportunities.

Eventually I realized that the longer I waited the less time my money would have to grow.  I did some reading and research and decided to start investing in an index fund.  I also started a small brokerage account so I can invest in stocks that pay dividends.  I still have plenty to learn about the world of investing, but I’m already miles ahead of all the people who are still sitting on the sidelines.

Self-doubt makes us question our decisions.  A former coworker of mine who believed in keeping things as simple as possible once told me, “The more decisions you make the more opportunities you have to make a mistake.”

He wasn’t saying that we should avoid making any decision at all for fear of making a mistake.  He was saying that we should make a decision and stick with it.  We need to trust our instincts and have faith that we made the right call rather than hemming and hawing over whether or not we did the right thing.

For example, my stock-picking strategy is simple.  I like to invest in high quality companies that have a history of not only paying regular dividends, but also increasing those dividends.  Of course, I’d be lying if I said I was never tempted to buy into the latest and greatest tech stock that was taking the world by storm.   After all, who wouldn’t want to ride along for a tidy profit?  But in my humble opinion, chasing after one hot stock after another is a recipe for disaster.  So instead I block out the noise and stick with my boring dividend stocks, confident that I made the right decision for me.