There's a persistent belief that some people were born to be successful, and others were born to be unsuccessful. This is terribly untrue; ask any successful person, from the wealthy neighbor next door to an international mogul like Bill Gates, and you'll likely hear a long story of past failures. Similarly, almost anyone currently experiencing a string of failures or dissatisfaction in their life has the potential to turn their life around.

So what's stopping them? What's stopping you from being successful and living the life you want? Chances are, it's at least one of these 10 reasons:

1. You're not working as hard as you think you are. You feel like you're pouring tons of hours into your project or your career, but how hard are you actually working? How many hours are you "working" but are actually talking to coworkers, browsing social media sites, or otherwise working inefficiently? Success takes actual hard work, meaning achieving a high level of productivity and cutting out the time wasters that are holding you back. An hour spent in the office doesn't equate to an hour spent actually working.

2. You aren't willing to take risks. You can't be successful unless you take a risk. You might have to quit your job to start your own business. You might have to invest your own money into your latest creative project. Risks are scary, but they're the only way to take big steps forward in your life. Remember, even if you end up failing, you'll always have another opportunity to try again.

3. You give up when things get hard. People have a natural tendency to lose motivation or enthusiasm when the going gets tough. You might hit a roadblock in your education, a snag in your product design, or a dry spell in your search for new clients. What separates the successful from the unsuccessful is the willingness to move past these blocks--the blocks themselves will always exist. Think of those obstacles as opportunities to improve yourself, and try not to let them get you down.

4. You think you've already failed. If you've had a string of failures or you've found yourself in an impenetrable rut, it's easy to convince yourself that you've already failed, or that there isn't any hope of overcoming your present challenges. Resist this temptation; the moment you're convinced that you don't have a chance of succeeding, you'll lose any real chance you might have had. In the words of Henry Ford, whether you believe you can or can't, you're right.

5. You aren't trying anything new. If you limit yourself to the same routines, you'll never have the chance to find the people or opportunities you need to be successful. Break out of your comfort zone. If you're uncomfortable with this notion, start with little things--take a new route to work or try a new grocery store. Then work out to going new places, meeting new people, and experimenting with new processes in your work.

6. You aren't educating yourself. You don't need a college degree to be successful in life, but you do need some level of education. Fortunately, countless free education resources exist on the web--platforms like Coursera and Codecademy exist exclusively to provide free education to those willing to receive it. There's no excuse for not educating yourself other than lacking the desire to do so.

7. You haven't set any goals. You can't expect to reach your goals if you haven't set any goals in the first place. Setting goals serves as a powerful motivator, giving focus to your efforts to ensure that you're putting effort into the right areas. Setting goals also makes you feel rewarded when you actually achieve them, prompting you to work harder and more enthusiastically for your subsequent goals. Remember the SMART acronym when setting them--make them specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time sensitive.

8. You haven't learned from your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Some people ignore them, only to keep making them again, over and over. Some people dwell on them, never allowing themselves to be put in the same position. Instead, you must learn lessons from your mistakes, and apply those lessons to your life moving forward.

9. You don't accept help. Few people became successful by themselves. They might have had the right ideas and might have done most of the work, but they've also taken outside advice, gotten help from outside resources, and had the support of friends and family to coach them through the tough times. Be open to asking for and accepting help from other people. You'll be glad you did.

10. You're sabotaging yourself. Some people are afraid of or intimidated by success. They don't know how they'd handle themselves in a dream situation, so they end up subconsciously sabotaging themselves in their actions and behaviors. Be wary of this predisposition, and remind yourself that success is a good thing--and that you deserve it.

These factors can prevent you from ever being successful, but that doesn't mean these factors are permanent or out of your control. On the contrary, most of them are fleeting and all of them can be worked on, eliminated, or otherwise reduced in power. There's nothing stopping you from being successful except your own lack of interest or motivation. With the right attitude, you can easily dismantle these inhibiting factors and start making forward progress toward your dreams.

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Published on: Jan 6, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.