Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.
~ Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
Many people freeze when wanting to move forward because they are afraid of failure. But what if we are really paralyzed by the fear of success.
It may seem odd but the reason why many people fear success is because it pulls you out of your comfort zone. There is a tendency to worry that success might conflict with deeply held family values or that the demands on your time might mushroom exponentially causing increased stress. Success might pull you into the spotlight and require you to navigate sudden wealth which may cause you to feel uncomfortable around friends and family.
Many of us, myself included, are afraid of taking necessary steps required to achieve better results in our life because it requires us to move outside of our comfort zone and into the learning zone. This is the zone where you could risk looking like a fool or feeling completely humiliated because you lack expertise. Success might push you to do something at all costs and against your moral integrity. All this emotional angst is contributing to your inertia causing you to stay small and not living up to your full potential.
Think about it for a minute. All these fears are thoughts in your head about your hypothetical future. They are ‘what if’ scenarios that haven’t come to fruition. While caution and due diligence are important, don’t let your future-oriented mind cause so much anxiety and risk-aversion that you become distracted from your present-day life. Remember that life is a creative process. You are creating it as you live and can change it at any moment in time.
Here are 5 Strategies to Navigate Your Fear of Success:
1. Define your own measurements of success.
Success is a slippery word that is often based on wealth, power, and influence. However, there are so many other measures of success that may be more applicable to you and your lifestyle. This National Public Radio podcast on success takes a look at different metrics for you to consider.
Know your purpose and your values and let those be your internal compass. Write out your definition of success so that you can see it on a regular basis especially during those times when you slip into comparing yourself with others which can derail your goals and intentions.
2. Stay present and focused on today.
Since most of our anxiety and distress is caused by thinking about the future become the master or sergeant general of your own mind. Reel in your thoughts and redirect your focus to the present moment.
Are you successful now?
If no, then ask yourself:
- Where do you need to put in more concerted effort to achieve your desired outcomes?
- What can you do today?
- What small step can you take right now to keep your mind focused on the here-and-now?
If yes, then:
- How are you managing success in your life now?
- If there are stressors, what can you say “no” to?
- What systems or boundaries can you put in place to keep living your life as you want?
3. Be open to receiving more… money.
Money, in and of itself, is neither good nor evil but it carries a lot of emotional baggage. How do you shed years of any unhealthy programming around money in a nanosecond? This is difficult to do especially when there are conflicting money scripts in our culture, such as “The wealthy are pretentious” and “I will never be happy unless I am rich.” Without getting into a whole new blog post, here are a few simple steps you might take to experience great abundance:
- Separate your sense of worth from money. Value what you do and who you are without any attachment to a money.
- Recognize that the feeling of abundance does not require money. Find joy, peace and contentment in what you already have in your life. Experience your life as the glass half full.
4. Create a habit of giving and stay connected to those less fortunate.
There is research that shows that money can change us and not necessarily for the good. As your wealth and success grow, continue to help those who are less fortunate through volunteer work and donations. Billionaire Warren Buffett still lives in the same house he bought in 1958. Not only does he live simply, he is very active philanthropically.
5. Be a ‘don’t knower’ and ask for help.
None of us are brilliant at all things. In fact, American fashion designer Eileen Fisher decided at the age of 34 to become a fashion designer with no business experience or fashion design background. She advocates being a ‘don’t knower’ which puts you in a more open state of mind and allows you to get great advice for free. Being a “don’t knower’ will naturally move you into that learning zone where you can achieve better results in your life.