These days, it is en vogue to hear one speak of the “fear of success.”
Okay, so it’s actually a real fear. But what’s behind it? Let’s have a closer look.
What happens when you become successful? What is there to be afraid of?
First, you become responsible for it. Whether you’re trying to have a baby, start a business, publish a novel or get that dream job, “success” is just the beginning of a whole new journey. Now you have something precious you need to take care of. This new life depends on you. You have to show up and do what it takes to keep it alive. Are you up to the challenge?
Maybe the answer you feel deep down is, “No, I’m not.” Then it might be time to reconsider the challenge. Do you really want it, or are you looking for something associated with it? Are you looking for the prestige, or the love, or the money that goes with getting it? If you can’t handle the pressure of success in getting that one thing, then you might want to look elsewhere for that love, prestige or money.
Another pressure that comes with success is that you are often thrust into a new social circle, or a new playing field. Suddenly you’re not just “Jenny from the block” any more. If you have a successful family, then you tend to hang out with other families, not your old single friends who are still playing the local meet market. If you successfully get sober after a lifetime of alcoholism, then you’re no longer welcome back with the old drinking buddies. If you achieve fame, then you’ll find that other important people will want you to put in appearances far from home, and the homies may resent you for it.
Are you willing to play that game? Are you willing to give up what you have now for something else? There is no right answer other than what’s in your heart. What do you really want?
Probably my biggest fear in achieving success is the commitment involved. If I get that job, or start that business or take on that client, then I am responsible to make it work. Yes, work. Sometimes success means finishing something and then just reaping rewards, but often, success is just the beginning of a whole new adventure.
The fear I feel when faced with a new adventure is my body’s way of asking: Is this what you really want? Are you willing to give up the small game for the bigger game? Is this really what you feel passionate about? Are these the people you want to spend your time with? Is this something that makes your heart sing?
If it is what you really want, then understand the sacrifices involved, and deal with them. Understand that, just because something requires sacrifice, does not make it a bad choice.
Life is full of choices. The key is to decide what you want, go for it, and cut the lesser options out. It takes focus.
If you really want it, then focusing on it will bring you joy. If it’s something else you want, then your focus is going to be distracted.