We often hear a lot about fear of failure and how to combat that. But there is a sister to this common issue that is often overlooked: fear of success. Wait a minute… don’t most people want to be successful and happy? The short answer is “yes”. The long answer is well maybe but there are caveats.
Many of us want to envision success; however, an element to success is to take risks and put in consistent efforts which may or may not pan out. It is easier to cling to our comfort zone, even if it means being tied to mediocrity, when there is an element of risk and lot of perceived effort.
Although many things could contribute to the fear of success, there seems to be three common lines of thought that tend to get in people’s way.
First, being successful is a continual process. It can be fleeting. So for many, they may just feel like it’s an uphill battle with an endless grind where there is a compulsion to engage in social comparison. As a result, some people don’t want to get started in the perceived “rat race” because of the potential pressure and social anxiety that may come from it.
Next, if an individual is successful, then the bar becomes higher and to not live up to that level of expectation from yourself and others is going to feel like a disappointment. So the easy way out is to do the bare minimum so that there are no expectations set. However, individuals in that mindset often are the ones who complain the most about regrets and not doing what they want to do with their lives. The sad part is that they often repeat the cycle until something tragic happens to force them into action.
Lastly, some people don’t want to commit to long-term goals that may lead to success, because they are afraid of tying themselves down to one path. Ironically, because of this noncommittal mentality, they often limit their options even further.
Thoughts for the Week
Don’t be afraid of success, because there are many ways to go about life. Everything around us is always changing so why would it make sense to act as if X choice will remain a constant? Take a chance. The unpredictability can sometimes be a gift, because it exposes us to new perspectives and experiences. Furthermore, even if one does become super successful in one phase of their life, trying to maintain that mentality may actually hinder personal growth. For example, think of those individuals who were highly successful athletes or other professionals who were never able to get out of the past and didn’t attempt to grow and adapt to the times. So, success may be fleeting at times, but it can be rewarding too.