Why most (women) give up on their dreams

Data from the Global Dreams Index Surveyshows over half of the world’s women admitted to giving up on their dreams. Over half of the women! Why is that? 

I admit chasing a dream often mean a lot of sacrifices and for realizing a dream you often need energy, competences, economic resources and support. But so, do men, so why do they not stop dreaming? 

Mentally devoting in your own outlook is key. I am nothing if I don’t dare to dream. 

But many women are being told to stay realistic, stop dreaming and get “their heads out of clouds”.  I am writing my next book called “design your future” and during my interviews I realize that women are being advised to paly safe, don’t take chances etc. 

Inevitably, even in the most allegedly enlightened families and workplaces we try to “take care of the girls and women”. We don’t want them to feel unsafe, get into trouble. 

We need many more women to seek out bravery. To be brave is an emotion that’s unfamiliar for many women. It’s considered the purview of men (

A few years back I met with a headhunter, and he told me “all women want is security”. I am not sure about that. But I admit many women does. It is partly cause by hormones and culture. That being said I admit lots of statistic show how hard it is for women to make it to the “top” tat being said sometimes it is good not to read those statistics. If you don’t know it is impossible you will think it “I am possible”. 

If I, as an unwanted immigrant, 7thgrade school “drop out” had read all the data on how bad my life would be, I would today not be where I am today. I simply did not pay attention to the fact that I was doing something almost impossible. In late 90s when I started following my dreams of a significant corporate career, I did not spend one mental calorie on how few % of women succeed doing so, even so fewer immigrant women of color.  I just decided to be the first but not last one.   

We cannot truly achieve if we do not dream. 

We need “dreamers”. I am a proud dreamer.  Being a dreamer is a good trait to possess. If it wasn’t for all the dreamers out here of the past, so many things, innovations wouldn’t have been around. 

I know a smart and hardworking woman and she is the chief executive officer in one of the biggest insurance companies in Germany. Previously, she had a senior executive job in London. She loved London and had no plans to return back to Germany. Then she became pregnant. Then her husband left. Suddenly she was a single mom. You can say she was hit by reality and she gave up her passion for the paycheck. 

She decided to move back to Germany, where her parents lived, and for a long time she looked for a job in a specific region and finally found one. It is not the best job, but it is good enough. She changed her appearance and went from being outgoing and positive to more introvert and less optimistic. It was hard to witness. 

Sometimes life just hit you really hard and life sometimes do ask us to settle for “less” for a period of time and that is ok. But if you stay in that zone 

You might as well just say goodbye to your dreams.

When I ask the women, I work with what are their reasons are for not living out their dreams they point of one or more of five reasons It is lack of money or caused by lack of financial security? Money is actually not the reason, as you might think! 

Women’s financial opportunities have actually improved dramatically over the past years. In 1967, only 27 percent of mothers were breadwinners or co-breadwinners, in 1976, only 56.3 percent of married mothers worked for pay, compared with 69.6 percent in 2017. In 2017 41 percent of mothers were the sole or primary breadwinners for their families, earning at least half of their total household income.  

In the United States, women now earn more college and graduate degrees than men do. And women now make up half the workforce, and they are closing the gap in middle management. So, should that not make women dream more or at least bigger? Is it then lack of time, lack of competences, lack of energy and stamina or is it lack of confidence? 

The major and main reasonfor not livingout their dreams is not money nor lack of stamina etc. The biggest reason why women don’t pursue their goals is a lack of confidence! Research shows on average, that men are more confident than women. 

Lack of confidence does really not lead to much success in life. 

So many women are full of negative, self- sabotage that keeps us from reaching our full potential. I am fully aware dreams change as you face major sit backs, failures or you lose trust in your partner, mentor, job etc. Data shows how devastating this lack of confidence is. Success correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence.  Let us remind our self by the wise words of Tina Fey: 

“Confidence is 10 percent hard work and 90 percent delusion — just thinking foolishly that you will be able to do what you want to do.”

Having confidence really is a lifelong process marked with ups and downs. I have a doughter and I see how her confidence is being challenged by social media. 

I tell her to shift from self-criticism to inspiration and not to compare and not to compete with others. Nothing good have ever come out of unhealthy comparison and competition.    

Self-confidence do not just happen. It is not something you can withdrawal in an ATM! It’s a developing process.

My former employer Hewlett Packard,did a fascinating research. They found that men are not exempt from doubting themselves, but they don’t let their doubts stop them as often as women do.  It is time for a global confidence-building journey!   

Low self-esteem can definitely get in the way of your dreams and this is why this is urgent to do something about. If you do not feel like you deserve (happiness, a good health, a good health etc.) then you will never be happy, fulfilled and successful (whatever that means for you). 

Lack of self-confidence can have an extreme impact on your career. It can challenge your desire to move outside your comfort zone because you that’s where you feel most safe with little risk of fiasco. 

After a long career I have realized that f I compete and compare myself to others it is a lot of pressure. 

Women are often told to make a choice. They are often asked to slow down and let go of their ambitions a bit while especially when they are having kids or pregnant. 

Why on earth would you do that? It is not your head that is pregnant! 

The problem is that when you slow down, getting back in the game very often seem overwhelming almost impossible and it becomes an evil circle. It can really harm your confidence. 

As long as I could recall I have a dreamer and I’m not alone in that.  There are so many dreamers out there. I suggest you connect with likeminded and dare to not only dream, but also turn your dream into a concrete actionable plan. Start out today by sharing your dream with others.

Thank you for reading this newsletter 

Soulaima Gourani 

Ps: Want to know more about being a dreamer? Do you know I have a community called “Women Reignite”? find us on Facebook or here:

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