by Michael J. Lyons | August 07, 2017

In his recently released book, Set Yourself Free: Daydream it… Believe it… Achieve it!, meetings industry veteran and professional speaker, actor and author Michael J. Lyons lays out a road map on how to pursue your daydreams, overcome the paralysis of fear, and take courageous steps towards achieving your rightful place as a joyful, fulfilled individual. Below is an excerpt from the book.

Many people spend their whole lives working in jobs that do not suit their natural skills or talents -- either in occupations they were forced into because of parental pressure, the family business, college majors chosen blindly, or chance.

Where are you right now in your life and career? Do you ever think about it? Do you spend a lot of time complaining about your relationships, the type of work you do, where you live, who your friends are, etc., but do absolutely nothing to change the situation?

Are you too tired or lazy to change? Do you feel trapped by your responsibilities with no apparent solution? Do you blame other people for your problems, or look in the mirror and hold yourself accountable for your actions?

Do you feel limited regarding available resources or opportunities and think I'll just wait it out… Things are bound to get better eventually. Really? If you truly think that, you are living a fairytale. Guess what? You are the only one who can redirect the course of your life and the only way to redirect your life is to take action through good choices. 

Roughly two-thirds of the people queried in multiple studies responded that they are not 100 percent happy with the way their lives were progressing. Whether those figures reflect their personal life, career, or both, the fact is the majority of the population are, at this very moment, dissatisfied. And frustrated. And, in most cases, unsure about how to get out of their vicious cycles.

Most people can quickly conjure up excuses for why they are powerless to change, such as "I'm too old," "I'm too poor," "I'm too depressed," "I'm too inexperienced," etc. But the fact is that other people have overcome all of those situations (and much worse) and have climbed out of their ruts to become happy, successful, fulfilled individuals.

Every one of us is blessed with unique abilities and skills. For some individuals these talents are self-evident; for others, it requires looking deep within themselves. Sometimes we discover our true calling early in life, and other times not until near the end. If not immediately evident, your true talents will eventually emerge. When you arrive at that point, you can choose to make a change or stay the course. If you make the choice to change, it is then about identifying the actions required that will be stepping stones to reaching your destination.

For many people, the biggest impediment to moving forward confidently is FEAR. When fear rears its ugly head consistently over time, we are unable to achieve sustained progress because fear fuels repeated bouts of disappointment or failure. And failure creates more fear and paralyzes our actions. 

Here are but a few of the reasons why we fail:

We fail when we are not true to ourselves.

That is, we do not value our uniqueness and all that we have to offer. We may not realize the tremendous potential inside of us until we accept that we are uniquely special, have distinct skill sets and talents that no one else has, and are loved by people who will support us along the way.

We fail when we feel sorry for ourselves.

Self-pity keeps us from trying, or from believing we deserve better. When we feel bad for ourselves, it suppresses our self-esteem, shatters our confidence, and leads us to believe we are being punished when we fail. As a result, we give up, lose faith, retreat into a "safe place" and resist anything that will expose us to risk.

We fail because of a lack of effort.

Many times, a simple lack of effort causes us to lose momentum and drive, bringing the mission to a grinding halt. All things in life worth having require work -- they don't usually just fall into our laps haphazardly. We have to go after them. Applying effort and hard work requires us to learn something new and do things outside of our comfort zones.

We fail because we complain. 

If things seem too difficult or unfair, we complain instead of accepting the challenge and forging ahead. We crawl into a negative zone, get angry, pout like a child, and then stop trying. We blame others instead of owning up to our shortcomings or lack of resolve, and taking responsibility for our actions.

We fail because we do not believe.

As strange as it sounds, sometimes we sabotage our efforts due to a lack of confidence or belief in ourselves. That forces us to come up with excuses so that the blame is directed elsewhere. Because we don't firmly believe that we are capable of succeeding at something, it's easier to stay focused on the negative circumstances hindering progress, which blinds us to the possibilities for success.

We fail because we quit.

Failing because we quit, of course, is the greatest failure of all -- and such an unnecessary shame. We have been taught since childhood never to quit or give up; and yet, as problems and challenges build in our complex lives, the convenient escape is just to throw up our hands and say, "I'm not playing anymore." When we lose hope, we want to quit, and this defeatist attitude keeps us from picking ourselves back up and persisting until things turn around.

This excerpt was adapted from the recently released book, Set Yourself Free: Daydream it... Believe it... Achieve it! by professional speaker and author Michael J. Lyons, who delivers talks in the U.S. and abroad on a variety of subjects. He has served as a keynote speaker, panel member, moderator, session leader, and emcee. As a thought leader and change agent, he focuses on the leadership traits necessary to succeed in today's competitive environment. For more information, please go to or