Everyone has dreams that they wanted to follow at one time or another. Unfortunately, many of us haven't thought about these dreams since childhood. At one time, we were cheered for dreaming of being pilots, astronauts, and princesses. Then, as we grew up, we were told to "be more practical" and pursue a regular job with a regular paycheck.
For most people, however, the dream never died. It just went to sleep – lying dormant in the back of your mind and heart, waiting for an opportunity to arise again. And then that opportunity comes. Your job didn't work out, you're bored with your life, or something else happens that makes you wonder about what could have been. So the dream comes out of hiding, but you don't follow through.
Fear of the Unknown
Fear of the unknown is probably the most obvious reason so many of us let our dreams die. Almost everyone fears the unknown – it's more comfortable to have the job you know (even if you don't like it), than it is to risk starting something completely new. It might surprise you to know the United States ranks 12th among developed nations in terms of startup activity – and a lot of that has to do with people who are stuck being "comfortable" with the life they're already living.
Further, the Gallup study linked above found that business closings now exceed business openings in the U.S. Considering that employer businesses are a foundational part of the country's economy, it's clear that many workers today just aren't willing to leave the security of their current jobs to follow their dreams.
You Don't Know What You'd Do
Many Americans are unhappy with what they're doing, but don't know what else they'd rather do. Sometimes this is due to lack of time – a 40-hour work week with a family and other obligations doesn't leave you with much time to brainstorm or make decisions about the future. Other times, you have so many ideas that you don't know how to narrow it down to just one. You may even have a final idea, but not know if it'll make money or if you'll be capable of handling the different demands associated with running a business.