In my last post I looked at the question of the fear of failure which can be paralyzing. However, the fear of success can be equally so. At the heart of the fear of success is the fear of change. Change, after all, is stressful, even when it’s a change that you work hard to achieve.
What Fear of Success Looks Like
Fear of success really is the fear of the changes that come with success. Success can come with a higher degree of responsibility, for example. A successful person has to make more decisions concerning money, people and other matters. Fear of success can cause you to shy away from success because you fear the additional responsibility that you would have to shoulder.
You may fear success due to a fear of a higher degree of scrutiny than you currently have to deal with. With a higher profile, any future failures get more publicity. That is true whether your greater visibility is on the pages of a fan magazine or in the corridors of your office building.
Fear of success also arises because of the fear of interpersonal changes. Maybe you are afraid of losing friendships if you are promoted or become more successful, or of having to deal with envy or jealousy of old friends or family members. You may fear developing a reputation among people as someone who chose money, fame, or a more demanding career over living a more “normal” life. Your overweight friends may resent your commitment to losing weight and re-gaining your health. Some people mistakenly equate success with a lack of spirituality or humility; perhaps you fear the loss of those qualities. Or perhaps the success that you seek would put you in the position of creating enemies and your fear of success stems from that.
People who fear success take steps to avoid it. So they may avoid completing projects or they may take on so much work that they can’t give each project the amount of time necessary for successful completion. People who are afraid of success may talk a lot about what they have done or will do but aren’t currently taking much action. They may second-guess themselves a lot, starting a project, stopping it, re-organizing it, starting it again, but finally never getting it done. They may try every diet that comes along, lose some weight, then abandon it and gain the weight back. As with many means of self-sabotage, fear of success may cause people to be more distracted than usual.
How to Overcome Your Fear of Success
If fear of success is standing in the way of you reaching your goals, you need to know that there are ways to overcome your fear and allow you to stay on your path to success. First, make an intentional effort to remain positive in your approach to reaching your goal. Remind yourself that change is inevitable and if you don’t choose your change, change will choose you. You have the right to be the one to decide what changes enter your life. So make the decision and pursue it with gusto.
Make it a point to maintain your authenticity. It may happen that you lose some of your old friends if you have a large change in your life because your common ground shifts. But don’t let it be because of your pride. Keep your perspective on life and your sense of humor. Maintain friendly relations with your old friends.
If your fear of success is related to a fear of becoming unspiritual, find a way to maintain your spirituality. Use your religious practice, a course of intentional giving, or whatever is appropriate to your spirituality to guide you. Study the lives of other spiritual people who used their worldly success to make a positive impact in the world.
Think of your success in the larger perspective of the world. Honor the positive impact your success can have on the world and in your life and work hard to make it meaningful. Shying away from making that impact would be a shame.
Finally, accept your ambition to achieve your goal and make your dreams come true. Fear of success, like any of the self-sabotaging techniques, works when your inner self is at odds with your outer self. Help your inner self to accept the decision to set and achieve your goals.