Do you find yourself not even trying for what you want, because you’re afraid you will fail? Who wouldn’t want to get a great job, or a strong relationship? It might seem weird, but many people have a fear of success so much that they avoid trying for success at all.
Being successful can often be in the eye of the beholder. You can be a successful business person or a successful pizza delivery person. It’s all about what brings you fulfillment in your life, and success anxiety is a common struggle people deal with that prevents them from going after what they want in life.
Often, this forces people to simply wait around and take whatever life gives them, even if it is something they don’t really care about or want. A bum job, a toxic relationship, or anything else that you accept because you think it’s the best you can do.
Do You Fear Success?
More often than not, to succeed, you will have to step out of your comfort zone, which can make you feel—you guessed it—uncomfortable, or even afraid. However, you’re not going to find that what you want will simply fall into your lap; you have to go out and get it.
For a job, you may need to work harder or take on more of a leadership role with your coworkers. You might have to do some things that you don’t want to do to get where you want to go.
As you find that anxiety and fear begin to build when you see yourself starting to succeed, try to find the root cause of the anxiety. Are you worried your friends and family will look at you differently? Are you worried you won’t have as much time for your hobbies? Are you concerned about coworkers who will be jealous?
It may be that you don’t feel like you deserve the thing you’re working toward. You’ll never be good at doing that job you want, so why try? Likewise, you’ll never be able to keep someone happy in a relationship, so why bother? There are countless excuses for why you have success anxiety, and you are not alone in your fears. But is it smart to become overwhelmed by these fears? How much truth do they really hold? Is your anxiety stronger than your desire for everything you want in life?
Is it better to be hiding in the shadows instead of trying to live your dream and reap the benefits? Are you going to let your whole life pass you by like this?
These are difficult questions for people with success anxiety because those feelings can be strong and very real. Sometimes, the fear really is stronger than the drive to succeed, especially if they’ve never truly been successful in life and don’t know how good it feels.
If you’ve ever been successful at something, you know how important baby steps are. Seeing any amount of progress made in the right direction can light a fire in you and make you even more determined to succeed.
It’s those who only focus on the negative that end up unsuccessful. Any little mistake is cause for doubt or reason to give up completely. To get past your fear of success you have to stop looking at the negative to kill your fear, as it just adds fuel to the fire. Instead, fuel your desire to improve and succeed. Look at the positive, and be confident in yourself.
Sometimes, we set ourselves up for failure without even knowing it. These are oftentimes learned behaviors that develop over time and can take a lot of time to undo, but the first step is becoming aware. Take a look at the following signs that you are fueling your anxiety instead of desire.
Of course, we’ve all been there, but some procrastinate more than others. If you find yourself constantly spending your time on things that are not that important, to delay doing the important ones, it’s time for a change.
We all procrastinate in all kinds of different ways. In today’s world, our mobile phones are one of the biggest culprits in helping us procrastinate. This could be reading the news, checking Facebook, or even watching sports you don’t really care about.
You can even procrastinate by doing something that might be good for you, but you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. For example, maybe you decide to spend an extra hour at the gym or decide to do an extra load of laundry to avoid working toward your long-term goals.
Talking The Talk
It’s normal to let your mind wander from time to time, but if you’re obsessively thinking about what you want or wish you had, and are not taking any action to make that happen, then there is a problem. Visualization can be a useful tool, but it only helps if you let it drive and motivate you to get up and DO.
It doesn’t matter how much you say you’re going to lose weight, quit smoking, get promoted, or get the person of your dreams. The only person who can make those things happen is YOU. Stop talking the talk, and start walking the walk.
If you see someone attractive you’d like to talk to, do you turn away because you think you’re not worthy? If you want to get promoted, do you think there’s just no way? These self-doubts are just hyper-focusing on negative thoughts, and you must train yourself to do the opposite of what you find these thoughts to be telling you. You are worthy and you are good enough, so act like it.
Maybe you got something you didn’t think you deserved, and you felt guilty because surely, there is someone more qualified. Well, perhaps there is. But they didn’t get it—you did. It’s okay to feel pride in things even if you are not the top-of-the-line best. You might have a fear of success but you still deserve happiness, and for good things to happen to you. You don’t have to feel guilty because you’re happy.
You can come up with a thousand excuses for why you haven’t done what you needed to do, but the truth is simple—you just don’t want to do it. So you talk yourself into staying home, not going out, and just being a lump for any amount of time.
Do you think you will look back on this moment in 20 years and be proud of yourself? Or will you be distraught because you realize how much of your life you’ve wasted sitting around?
Life will continue moving on without you. People in your life will have successes and failures, and you can too—but that involves you actually getting up off the couch.
Shame As The Source Of Your Fear of Success
Are you embarrassed or ashamed of the life you’re living? Do you want to ask for help but don’t want to feel the judgment or humiliation of doing so? Or maybe you’re just stubborn and want to do everything yourself without help.
Whatever the case, know that it is okay to ask for help. Everybody needs help sometimes; there’s no way to get through life without it. Would you rather be miserable and alone, repeatedly failing at something you can’t handle yourself, or would you rather swallow your pride and start succeeding with assistance?
It’s true, and you might fail or let someone down. But the only true failure is the failure to try.
The Great Unknown
Believe it or not, your perception of the world is completely within your control. It can be scary to look at new things, but whether you choose to give in to that fear or to turn it into motivation is up to you.
Everyone has to try new things sometimes, and it can often be nerve-wracking at first. Think about the first time you drove a car, or even the 5th or 10th time. It took tons of teaching and hours of practice before you were comfortable behind the wheel. But you did it, because it’s something we have to do, and you overcame that anxiety.
Success anxiety is simply the fear of making mistakes, so you have to realize that you will make mistakes no matter what—everybody does. We’ve all gotten a ticket, bumped a curb, or driven down a wrong way street. The most successful people in the world have probably made more mistakes than anyone else, but they learned from them and moved on. It makes achieving your goal that much sweeter.
Whatever it is you’re trying to do, here are a few steps to get you started at being your most successful self.
- Do some thorough research, read books, listen to podcasts, and soak up all the knowledge you can about what you’re hoping to achieve, and who has done it the best in the past until you know it backward and forwards.
- Take the time to practice, rehearse, and fully prepare yourself for whatever tasks are required for achieving your goal. Observing others in your field can also be helpful.
- Don’t Give Up. It can be tempting to throw up your hands at the first sign of a challenge, but you will never succeed this way. It’s important to be prepared for bumps in the road and have your motivation and drive ready to fire up when things get difficult.
No successful person in this world, whether it be an actor, musician, Olympian, or millionaire, was born knowing exactly how to do everything they wanted to do. It did not fall in their lap. They took the time to learn, practice, fail and try again. They sacrificed time, money, and probably sleep. They had confidence in themselves and pushed on until they achieved their goal.
What are you willing to do to be successful? Will you run away in fear, or push on and see what you can do? Are you ready to finally take control of your life and finally end your fear of success?
It all starts with you, and it can all start today if you apply yourself.