Are You Afraid Of Success?!

Staying Stuck

There are tons of people who seem to have all the right credentials, the best education, and all the resources available to them, yet never seem to be able to produce. Instead, they engage in various types of self-sabotaging behavior because they fear that their (successful) work will expose them, make them vulnerable to other people’s criticism, or reveal that they’re not really as smart as others believed. This often makes people paralyzed by uncertainty about their current skills & abilities and the possibility that they won’t be able to sustain any future success they may achieve. They feel that no matter what they do, it will never be enough. They also feel like they will never get promoted or never win other people’s respect, so they don’t bother trying as hard. They focus instead on the things that they can easily get done even if it’s unimportant & trivial. With that said, it’s not difficult to identify resistance that is driven by a fear of success.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you working on your goals for at least 30 minutes every day?
  • Do you fail to prepare for success?
  • Do you talk a big game about your project but never actually engage in the work to make that project become a reality?
  • Do you luxuriate in negative talk?
  • In short, procrastination, destructive behavior, and excessively pessimistic thinking all provide the same outcome — a safe and justifiable reason to blame a lack of performance on so that you will always have an explanation about why you didn’t do well.

Looking Beneath The Surface

Of all the various types of resistance to productivity his summer, suffering from a fear of success is probably the worse. This type of fear often drives people into such isolation and avoidance that they are the least likely to reach out for help. Fear can also be grounded in insecurity, not feeling good enough, and a lack of confidence in one’s own skills. If any of this sounds familiar, I want to suggest a few ways that you can begin to move through the fear of success before you have a meltdown.

Imagine Your Future

Plan. Plan. Plan. Not because it’s fun (it’s not) but because the process of planning what it is you want and mapping out the steps to get it done is transformative. It requires you to: a) ask yourself what you really want, b) acknowledge that the road to getting it is filled with lots of small steps, and c) get honest about the fact that taking no action guarantees failure.

Create Accountability

What you need more than anything else is to overcome your resistance is weekly accountability. Because you are capable of generating sophisticated levels of denial and complex rationalizations for not doing, you need a group of people who won’t allow you to babble on endlessly about how slow your process is, or how many other things you have on your plate or how much better someone else may be, but someone who will instead keep you in check in a spirit of firm and loving support. If you don’t have people in your life to do this, you might need to make some new friends.

Start Preparing

Set deadlines for things that occur far in advance of their actual deadlines. This will help you to break the habit of last-minute sabotage so that you can focus your performance on the actual substance of your work. The trick is that these deadlines will have to feel consequential, so set up other people who are expecting to see some results or hear about the progress of your work so that you can’t just slide through the “early” deadline without any consequences.

Reach Out To Your Mentors

It’s time to start having serious conversations with your mentors and role models about everything that’s going on in your life. Any difficulties you are experiencing I’m sure are common, and asking your mentors to share how they got to where they are today and what types of failures they have experienced will give you a clearer picture of their path to success. I’ve never had a conversation with a successful person that didn’t involve devastating failures that were critically important to their eventual success. Besides, mentors are there to help guide you – don’t be afraid to reach out to them for that purpose!

Consider Starting The Inner Work

If you are unable to unravel why you keep sabotaging yourself can’t imagine reaching out to your mentors for help, it may be time to find a good therapist and start doing the inner work that’s necessary to determine what’s standing between you and getting what you really want.

Each of these suggestions is aimed at a single outcome — breaking you away from your fears to take one concrete step forward. Taking any one of these steps will help you to explore what’s holding you back, connect to the support of a community of people who want to help you, and get you back to doing what it is you have set out to do; it’s never too late to re-engage.

While fear of success is an incredibly difficult type of resistance to face, I hope you get the clarity to identify why you’re stuck, the wisdom to know what steps to make (in your your individual situation), and the strength to reach out for whatever help will keep you from getting stuck.

What makes you afraid to succeed? Share in the comments section below –


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