Are You Afraid of Success?

This week we are asking the question, “Are you afraid of success?”

Many of us would answer with a very firm no, but are we being truthful with ourselves? For a lot of us the fear of success is a preposterous idea. Who wouldn’t want to be successful? Why would anyone be afraid of succeeding and achieving? The following list of traits might come as a surprise as we pull back the veil and learn that, yes, you are afraid of success.

Common traits associated with a fear of success:

  • You procrastinate on projects that are important or avoid them altogether.
  • You work on many projects at once and are never able to devote your full attention to any of them.
  • You feel alarm or stress when faced with something that could advance your station in life or your career.
  • You allow yourself to become distracted to avoid working on important projects.
  • You can always come up with a list of “logical” reasons not to pursue something that would be good for your career.
  • You don’t feel like you will be able to sustain success once you’ve achieved it and as a result don’t pursue it.
  • You don’t think you deserve to be successful on a conscious or subconscious level.
  • You self-sabotage when opportunities come up by convincing yourself that you won’t do a good job.
  • You often feel that your work isn’t good enough.
  • You don’t always complete projects at work or home.
  • You have big aspirations but for some reason can’t figure out how to make them a reality or talk yourself out of pursuing them.
  • You talk about what you will do or want to do more than you work towards it.
  • You argue with your friends, spouse or loved ones over why you can’t do something
  • You have feelings of guilt associated with the success you do have.
  • When you are on the verge of success everything always seems to fall apart.

Why do we fear success? What part of being successful fills us with nervousness and this avoidance reflex? One of the largest reasons people are afraid of success is because of a fear of change. People fear change for lots of reasons and success is no different. With success comes many changes; change in work hours, stature, stress levels, relationships, workload, etc. The most important aspect to overcoming your fear of success is to identify what it is that really scares you and meet it head on. Put your fears into perspective.

An actor friend of mine used to work as a server in a restaurant to make ends meet while pursuing her acting career. She used to get extremely stressed out about auditioning for roles on TV and would sabotage herself at auditions telling herself that she wasn’t right for the part before even going in. She was afraid of getting a role because then she would have to tell her boss at the restaurant that she’d need to quit and that scared her. She was also afraid that after the role was over she’d have to find a new job again to make ends meet because she was frightened that she wouldn’t find another acting job soon enough. When she put everything into perspective she realized that she was afraid of success. She was sabotaging herself because she was afraid of the changes that would lie ahead if she were successful and was choosing to rest in a comfortable rut at a job she didn’t actually like. Once she faced these fears head on she began auditioning in earnest and is now quite successful in commercials.

Overcoming your fear of success can be difficult at first but if you analyze the fears you have toward the success looming ahead of you, you’ll be able to deal with them one at a time.

Step back and take a look at what it is that your success would change and make a list.

Look over that list and see if there is anything you can put in place to help alleviate those fears. For example, “I am afraid that this new promotion will mean a larger workload and longer hours.”
If this is one of your fears, set limits on how long you will remain at the office and schedule your days accordingl

“I am afraid that I won’t be good enough to do the job.”
If this is one of your fears, think about the fact that the job opportunity was offered to you in the first place. If people didn’t think you could handle it then they wouldn’t have offered it to you. ]

The fear you have of not being good enough to do the job is indicative of the confidence they have in you to rise to the challenge.

Get to the bottom of your fears by answering the following questions as honestly and as in depth as you can.

  • Do I really want this?
  • Will this really change my life and, if so, how drastically?
  • How will this affect my relationships with friends, family and colleagues?
  • What do I need to do to achieve this goal?
  • Am I willing to put in the work required to achieve this goal?
  • Do I really feel like I don’t deserve this?
  • By pursuing this what am I risking or what’s the worst that can happen?
  • What am I risking by not pursuing this?
  • What am I afraid of?

If you answered these questions truthfully, you are well on your way toward overcoming your fear of success. Keep it up and be sure to check in and re-evaluate these questions with each new opportunity.


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