Dealing with Fear of Success

Let’s say you’re trying to accomplish this relatively large goal, and you set yourself on the path to making it happen. You get yourself all hyped up and excited to reach the finish line, and you have a clear picture of how it would feel when it actually happened. You’re making steady progress toward your goal….and then something happens.

This thing you’re working toward starts to become very real. It feels scary. You find yourself starting to self-sabatoge and draw back on your progress. You might start procrastinating a little bit. You forget your WHY. You start playing small. Maybe you even quit. Has this ever happened to you?

Less than a year ago, the whole concept of “fear of success” was brought to my attention for the first time, when I was called out for “playing small” and just settling for what was comfortable. I always thought that was just “fear of failure” and living my perfectionistic ways. But I didn’t realize that I was fearing success too.

I have historically subconciously down-played the gifts that I have, and make up a gazillion excuses more often than not to keep them to myself. I’m afraid of the pressure of rising expectations that others might have as I move forward. I’m afraid of those people I might piss off along the way, because I have no intent to make anyone angry. So, my solution was to just not go for what I truly wanted.

This has been a big process for me to try and tackle over the last couple years, and maybe I’m not even yet fully clear on how to get past it. But here’s what I do know. When I look at all the fears that I listed above, what am I ultimately afraid of? It’s clear as day – how other people might react. And with that, I can now take a step to clear away those cobwebs and get myself back on making progress toward my goal.

You might have a reason (or two, three, four?) why you’re afraid of success. So how are you going to navigate through these thoughts? Here’s how I just attempted to talk myself through it:

  1. Ask yourself the question, “What’s stopping you from achieving your goal?” – and get REALLY honest with yourself. See what comes up. Write it down. (As I noted above, I’m afraid of the pressure/expectations/judgment of the outside world.)
  2. Then ask yourself, “What will you miss out on if you DON’T accomplish that goal?”
  3. Finally, ask yourself what’s more painful…would you rather deal with the things that are stopping you? Or the things you’ll miss out on if you bail right now?

Note that there’s no right or wrong answer to #3. I don’t know about you, but now I know how I should proceed.

The Cheerful Mind