Fear of Success
Overcoming Fear of Change
Laura's boss has just announced that the company has just won a bid to create a national marketing campaign. And he is hinting that he wants Laura to head this project. All that she has to do is let him know that she's interested by the following Friday.
Laura always hoped for an opportunity like this. She knows her work and management skills qualify her for the job – and she knows that it would likely lead to a promotion, or at least to some much-deserved recognition.
However, by the time Friday arrives, she's created a list of reasons not to head the project. And by the end of the day, she still hasn't talked to her boss.
Does this situation sound familiar?
Fear of success is actually quite common, and it can cause us to lose out on a lot of opportunities in life. When we're too afraid to take risks and move forward on our goals – either consciously or unconsciously – we get stuck in one place, neither moving forward nor backward.
In this article, we'll examine the fear of success: what it is, how to know if you have it, and what you can do to overcome it.
Fear of Success
Psychologist Matina Horner first diagnosed the fear of success in the early 1970s. Her findings, especially as they related to fear of success in women at that time, were incredibly controversial.
Since then, however, most scientists and psychologists agree that fear of success exists for both men and women.
Fear of success is similar to fear of failure. They have many of the same symptoms, and both fears hold you back from achieving your dreams and goals.
Signs of Fear of Success
The biggest problem for many people is that their fear of success is largely unconscious. They just don't realize that they've been holding themselves back from doing something great.
If you experience the following thoughts or fears, you might have a fear of success on some level:
- You feel guilty about any success you have, no matter how small, because your friends, family, or co-workers haven't had the same success.
- You don't tell others about your accomplishments.
- You avoid or procrastinate on big projects, especially projects that could lead to recognition.
- You frequently compromise your own goals or agenda to avoid conflict in a group, or even conflict within your family.
- You self-sabotage your work or dreams by convincing yourself that you're not good enough to achieve them.
- You feel, subconsciously, that you don't deserve to enjoy success in your life.
- You believe that if you do achieve success, you won't be able to sustain it. Eventually you'll fail, and end up back in a worse place than where you started. So you think, "why bother?"
Causes of Fear of Success
Fear of success has several possible causes...