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Fear Of Success And How To Deal With It

Fear of success manifests as procrastination

It sounds ludicrous doesn’t it – being afraid of success?  But fear of success is actually quite common.

If you’re suffering from this you may not even realize it because it hides behind other more obvious feelings or 'reasons', that cause you to procrastinate about doing what needs to be done...

  • Once I’ve finished _________ (fill in the blank), then I’ll start focusing on my art againsomething else is more important (the ‘blank’ is always refilled with something that HAS to be done first).
  • I just don’t have the time/energy/money right now , but I'll start as soon as I doit’s not the right time (will it ever be? Probably not.)
  • I don't have enough information right nowWaiting for something else to be in place (will you ever have 'enough' to feel ready?)
  • So-and-so won't let me, won't approve - I have to get round them first - putting the blame on someone else  (priceless because you never have to take responsibility for not doing it)

And many other things our minds think up as an excuse.  All of which give you a valid reason to put off doing what you say you want to do.  But really, it comes down to a fear of success.


Fear Of Change

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Your Relationship With Money

There is a tendency to fear success because we have some basic negative feelings that underlie our idea of what being successful will lead to, such as....

  •  It's hard work - I’ll have to work really hard to get there, then I’ll have to keep that up to maintain it.
  • If I start I won't be able to stop - Once I’ve had success I’ll have to keep repeating it, or by default I’ll become a failure.
  • It may change me - Successful people are rude/greedy/boring and I don’t want to be like that
  • I'll have no time for myself - I won’t be able to laze around on Sunday afternoons because I bet successful people are way too busy to do that

Fear of success is like saying – I will have to do lots of things I don’t want to do and I’ll have to keep doing them once I start.  Because if not then I’ll fail and that would be worse than doing nothing and staying where I am.

Fear Of Success = I'll Have To Give Up Something To Have It

We generally seem to equate success with busy-ness. So, let's say you decide that increasing your sales is the way to improve your income.  You go one step further and start imagining how overwhelming your life will become.

You won’t have time to go to the gym because you’ll be too busy.  Or perhaps you’ll become like one of those mothers who never sees her children because you’re so busy being successful. 

You’ll have to be paying for child minders, dog walkers, gardeners and house cleaners (OK that’s not so bad!) in order to manage your life – and where’s the fun in all that?

We project into the future our limited ideas of how it will be if we become really successful and if we don’t like what we see, we protect ourselves by staying small.

The thing is, you really have NO idea of how it will be.  And in any case, it’s YOUR success so you get to call the shots and can tailor how it manifests to suit your own values.

Joy And Abundance vs Staying Stuck

Of course there are going to be some changes that need to take place if you want to move on from where you are:

  • You'll have to take responsibility for where you are now and accept that things will need to be done to get where you want to go
  • You may have to expose yourself to new ideas and probably new people
  • There may be people who won’t like you because you are showing them up with your new direction in life
  • You'll have to face the chance of failing publicly to some degree or other if some things don’t work out as planned
  • You must be persistent if you want permanent change

Whereas if you ignore your soul calling you to action

  • You get to let yourself off the hook…. So what if you spent the whole weekend watching TV?  Doesn’t matter...
  • Nobody will know if you fail, because you haven’t even tried
  • It’s more comfortable, because at this point you may know a lot more people in that space than in the area you're being called to

BUT – conversely, you won’t have given it a shot and at some point will probably regret that.  And nothing is worse than regret of not having tried

Don’t get me wrong – this is not a value judgement – but just a basic outline of the differences between going for success and staying where you are now – the choice is always yours to make.

So this brings up another point. 

On the face of it, it appears that success is a lot more complex than failure, but anyone who has suffered any kind of failure, will tell you – that it’s just not true. 

Failure and mediocrity bring their own complexity

....and the same amount of energy is needed to cope with that as is needed to cope with success.

The real difference is that to be successful in any endeavor, you need to be pro-active - take the initiative and get into action when inspired.

Whereas if you're dealing with your current situation you are just re-acting to what is happening to you - in other words you're forced into action.

And for some reason that seems 'easier' when in fact it's not.

Think about it.  Right now, if you just spent as much energy on taking small steps towards where you really want to be as you do in procrastinating, justifying yourself and worrying about things, and then beating yourself up for all of the above - your situation would improve in no time!

OK... So... How To Overcome This Fear Of Success?

First of all recognize that what you are feeling is a fear of success…  If you’re procrastinating about getting things going, if you’re putting off writing that blog or sitting down to do your spending plan, recognize it for what it is! 

It’s not that it’s vitally important to watch the latest reality tv program/walk the dog/write next week’s shopping list, it’s because if you focus on starting your new business (for example) and actually get what you want – you’re afraid of what that might mean, so fear of success convinces you to stay ‘safe’ just in case.

Realise that success only means ‘deciding what I want and getting it’.  So work  that out – what exactly do you want - what does success look like to you? 

Not to your sister or your dad or the blogger you follow…. But to YOU.  Because here’s the thing.  If you’re hell bent on chasing an idea of success that isn’t yours, it’s no wonder it’s scaring you. 

That would definitely be an uphill battle and even if somehow with masses of willpower and who knows what, you got there… you’ll probably be more miserable than ever, and have an even bigger fear of success. 

So get real – what is it you really want, and how will it look when you get there?

You Define Your Own Success

Many people have this idea that BIG goals = success. 

That’s just not true. 

Success comes in all shapes and sizes and is subjective.  And for many it’s not about BIG goals at all. 


Be nice to yourself..... It's hard to be happy when someone is mean to you all the time.

~ Christine Arylo ~


If you’re being authentic about what you want, you become pulled towards your vision instead of having to push yourself to get things done.  And the path to get there will fit in with your values.

Realise that how success manifests in your life is up to you.  Find examples of how you would like your success to look – don’t read blogs on success that advocate stressful busy-ness. 

Fear of success really boils down to the fact that you’re projecting into the future false pictures of how your life might look if you become successful, usually based on someone else’s story. 

Once you’re clear on what you really want, of what your own idea of success really is, and you take steps to achieve it your way, the fear will naturally melt away.


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