Are You Afraid of Success?

Success. It is something most of us young professionals have dreamed of since childhood and something we are in constant pursuit of our entire working lives. To be afraid of failure is nothing new, but some YPs may be sabotaging their own success because they are scared of it, whether they realize it or not. Opposite of fear of failure, fear of success is the fear of accomplishment, recognition and praise. Are you afraid of the success monster?

You Don’t Feel You Deserve It
Unfortunately, some people can fall easily into self-destructive or self-defeating mentalities. This type may settle for less than they feel he or she deserves or is even capable of achieving.  Some, who grew up with overly critical parents, or have been victim of verbal abuse that conveyed messages of inferiority, may not think they’re good enough or smart enough to be successful, even if they have all the required tools. They have internalized such feedback and messages and, instead of focusing on themselves, are pre-occupied with all the “better, brighter, smarter and more talented” people that deserve success more than them. Even if they can wrap their minds around the possibility for success, these people feel they will easily be replaced or displaced once on top.

Fear of Disappointment
Some young professionals have been conditioned to believe that the path to success involves being vulnerable to “getting one’s hopes up,” which threatens to inevitably lead to disappointment. Perhaps they have tried their hand at a previous venture and failed and are afraid of repeat misfortune. After all, success does not come easy and involves the taking of many risks, some of which can be met with very negative repercussions.

Your Glass is Half Empty
There is the fear of disappointment, then there is being a pessimist all together. Some people expect things to go wrong no matter how promising the situation appears to be at the moment. These people may not even see the point in trying because they feel all their attempts may be in vain. These type if people generally tend to have an overall extremely negative perspective of life, and are constantly indulging in self-sabotaging behaviour because they focus on all the things that could go wrong instead of trying.  “

You Are Afraid of the Challenge and the Maintenance
Sometimes people fear success because they don’t know if they can live up to their achievements or the new expectations that come with success. They’re afraid they don’t have what it takes to rise to the challenge, the scrutiny and the sustainability of their success, and that their achievements could self-destruct at any time. The fear of maintenance can include environmental factors, like the economy, the changing tastes of your audience, or fear of increased competition. 

You Are Afraid of the By-Products of Success
Success can be scary because it involves change, which can be intimidating and difficult to handle. Change may mean increased expectations, upward social mobility and accompanying lifestyle, opportunity, challenges and responsibilities alike. This can be fear-inducing for some YPs, whether they have what it takes to make it or not. Becoming successful sets individuals apart from the crowd and for those who enjoy coasting by with a comfortable sense of inclusion and “fitting in,” this prospect may be terrifying. We fear that some friends may become jealous, turn on us or treat us differently.

So…You Self-Sabotage
Whether consciously or not, some success-fearing YPs may sabotage his or her success by doing the opposite of what they should do. This may involve things like staying out all hours the night before the big presentation, coasting by and working at three quarters of your full potential or being all talk and no action, putting off what needs to be done to bring you closer to your desired result. Instead of focusing on a promising end goal, these people may waste their time and energy on non-essential tasks, chores and, well, doing nothing.

We once had a teacher whose favourite saying was: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Whether it is failure or success you are afraid of, time will keep moving even if you are not. If dreams of success and making a mark still occupy your brain, perhaps you need to evaluate why your actions don’t correspond. What are you afraid of?