If you often…
Make excuses for why you didn’t get something done…tell yourself that what you’re currently doing is good enough… or believe the goal you set is too big …
You might be afraid of success.
Some people think the fear of failure is the biggest obstacle to success. But others argue that fear of failure can be a healthy and motivating emotional driver.
Well, there’s nothing healthy about the fear of success. Fear of success can be a bigger hurdle than being afraid of failure.
If that’s hard for you to believe, look at it this way.
If you try something and fail, while you may be disappointed, you can go back to your comfort zone—back to what you already know. It’s not a big deal because you’re comfortable.
However, if you try something and succeed, you head into uncharted territory. Things are different, and you’re not sure what to do. That can be quite stressful.
So, if you are afraid of success, you are even less likely to try new things than if you’re afraid to fail. The result is you’ll rarely take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or create opportunities for big wins.
That’s not a very exciting or rewarding way to live. So, let’s take a deeper look at the fear of success and how you can conquer it.
Where it comes from
Fear of success is often learned at a young age.
We might, for instance, hear our parents or teachers talking about how, for one reason or another, they could never achieve their goals and dreams.
Or we may experience our own painful failures early in life that make us avoid going for the things we want later.
We might also grow up in an environment where, instead of our successes being met with praise, enthusiasm, and encouragement, they are dismissed, downplayed, or ridiculed.
How to recognize it
A big challenge with being afraid of success is that we don’t often realize it.
We may have a sense that something is off, but we can’t put our finger on what is wrong.
“Succeeding” looks a little different for everyone, so everyone’s indicators aren’t the same. However, here are nine common symptoms of fear of success. If any particular signs prick at your heart, take note.
#1: You are working slowly, hesitantly, or not at all.
#2: You’re worried that your big break will come, and you won’t be able to deliver.
#3: You respond to every email, text, and social media notification as soon as you receive it—as if everything is urgent.
#4: You are afraid success will turn you into something you don’t want to be.
#5: You’re making beautiful, detailed business and marketing plans, but you’re not actually doing any of the tasks.
#6: You are worried that if you become successful, it will be too much pressure.
#7: You’re making it halfway through your plans, and then not showing up at a key moment because you hit the terror barrier.
#8: You say, “I don’t really want the spotlight on me.”
#9: You worry that you’re not good enough to sustain success.
What’s really behind all these symptoms?
Success means experiencing something different—even if it’s something you always wanted.
See, your paradigm wants things to stay the same, for you to remain within the box you’ve built for your life. But when you try something new and succeed, you head into uncharted territory. Things are different, and that can lead to stress and disappointment. It’s just easier to keep things the same.
How to overcome it
There’s no magic pill that will fix this fear. Recognizing that you have it is the first step.
Fear of what other people will think about you is often at the base of the fear of success. So, before you look to overcome your fear, find ways to build your confidence.
Doing the following will get you started:
1. Get really clear on what you want. If fear of success is prominent in your life, work with a mentor or coach to help you work out how that would look.
2. Regularly remind yourself of your genius. You already have everything you need to succeed; you’re just not tapping into your capabilities.
3. Download the self-confidence formula below and read it every day for 30 days. That will start building your confidence to step out of your comfort zone and start moving toward the things you want in life.
Three things I’ve learned about the fear of success
Fear of success usually isn’t a literal concept. People don’t fear becoming successful; they are afraid of the results and consequences of success.
For example, they’re afraid of the changes that will occur in their life when they make a lot of money, not the money itself.
Fear of success is maintained (and made worse) by avoidance. For example, people might take jobs that allow them to avoid explicit and obvious signs of success. Their intentional choices and behavior reinforce and strengthen their fear.
And, as I mentioned a moment ago, the ultimate role of all fears you face is to lower your confidence levels. Fear wants to keep you trapped and stop you from what you want in life.
Be aware of what’s going on inside you and choose to start or keep moving toward the goals that scare you. Even if you don’t succeed, you’ll grow along the way.
To more and better,
Download the Self-Confidence Formula