You deserve to know that there's a reason many people don’t want to discuss why they don’t really pursue their vision for success and take action. When you decide to stop settling and address the excuses you’ve been allowing in your life, you are raising your expectations. It’s worth overcoming your challenges to create the possibility of greater levels of success. But are you ready for what comes with success? That might seem like a weird question, but it’s surprisingly common to have a hidden fear of success, the ultimate form of self-sabotage.
Many people are quietly struggling with the prospect of success. In fact, women, especially women of color can face an overwhelming fear of being found out or failing to handle the increased responsibility and fame that comes with leadership. It may be hard to believe that capable and accomplished people still question their abilities, but many of my clients agree it’s true. Most people don’t set out to fail, but it can be easier to picture than the possibility of exceeding your goals. What if eliminating your fear of success could be all you need to do to take your life to the next level?
Limiting belief alert: You may not realize that you are afraid of success.
Consider these facts and strategies to become more comfortable with accepting success as a way of life:
1. The fear of success looks different to everyone. Poor judgment, procrastination, self-sabotage, and an inability to concentrate on important tasks are all signs you may be afraid of the responsibilities of winning. Do you ever find yourself struggling to focus on the one task that could take your career to the next level? Maybe an influential person in your industry asked you to follow up and you can’t bring yourself to send an email. These are signs that your subconscious is derailing your efforts.
○ Be aware of signs of self-sabotage in your work and relationships. Ask yourself why are you allowing those behaviors. What do you want? Look at your past objectively. You’ve likely been sabotaging yourself for years. What’s been the impact of your behavior? Is it serving you?
2. Reject your negative beliefs. Start by making a list of your negative beliefs about success. Give yourself space to “catastrophize” and consider your worst-case scenario. Once you are able to articulate your fears you can begin questioning them.
○ Is this belief is true? Do you have experiences that validate your fear?
○ Where did this belief start?
○ Is there the slightest chance you could be wrong?
○ What are a few counter-examples that disprove this belief?
○ What are this fear and negative belief costing you?
3. Success is more difficult than failure. If it was easy, everyone would do it. The truth is, the more successful you become, the more visible you become. You’re more exposed to criticism and negative attacks. Leaders have more responsibility personally and professionally. I don’t know any high performing, values-based leader who doesn’t live with more pressure on their time and health. How many of us encourage ourselves with the Bible verse, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
○ Have you noticed a major perk of being a successful leader is having access to more resources? Whether it’s having the funds to hire an administrative assistant, publicist or achieving elite travel status, the benefits outweigh the excess work. When you have plenty of money and influence, life becomes easier.
4. You might worry about becoming a different person. You can’t raise your expectations without making real change in your life and career, but being authentic or keeping it real means holding yourself to the same values and ideals. Think about it. If you want to lose weight you will have to change your eating and exercise habits, but you are the same person, right? You owe it to yourself to make the changes to become the best version of yourself.
5. Define an exciting vision that motivates you. Are you afraid that you don’t have time to be successful? Starting with a clear vision of what you want. Do you want to be your own boss and work on the beach for a few hours each day with your laptop? Do you want to hire and manage a large team where you can teach, mentor and encourage others? Getting Unstuck won’t happen if your vision of success isn’t a dream that inspires you to take action. What is your vision of success?
6. Why do you want to be successful? Make a list of what excites you. Imagine all the advantages that success can bring to you and the people you love: influence, money, social status, perks, the ability to financially contribute and advocate for causes you care about. Root yourself in logic not fear to motivate yourself. Feeling stuck? Read about your rockstar mentors’ motivation. Many leaders see their success as a sign or reward for their alignment and work towards mastering a divine or spiritual gift.
7. Do what you love today. Success requires consistent action. That means motivating yourself to take steps forward daily.
Think about it, maybe you have a professional goal like I did when I was starting my career in Finance. Before I was ready to shift to a new industry, I set a goal to pass the Series 7. The exam was a requirement to advance so if I couldn't pass it I would be stuck. So while it was the perfect goal to advance my career, do you think I enjoyed it? Absolutely not. I dreaded studying and I hated to even think about it. Focusing on the goal reinforced that I hated finance and didn't see a future in applying the information I was struggling constantly to learn. I took the test and failed by ONE POINT! As I started crying in the testing center I realized I wasn't sad, I was free. I knew there was no way I could force myself to study that hard about something I wasn't passionate about. Instead, I took failure as a sign to focus on the real problem I was solving- how to get unstuck.
The truth is, when you set the wrong goal even if you could push yourself to successfully do it, you will likely hate it when you have to do it every day to make progress.
Know this: NO goal will motivate you to overcome a task you despise.
Instead, find a way to enjoy the process of becoming successful. When you choose to value what you’ll learn or the people you meet along the way it’s just the adventure in finding the right path. I didn't let my vision of being a speaker, author, and business owner scare me, instead, I reminded myself I could always try to pass that finance test again.
Maybe it sounds odd to admit that you secretly fear success but fear is one of the primary reasons people get stuck. If you leave it unchecked, your negative thoughts on success can sabotage your future. Don't let fear keep you from unlocking what the universe wants you to receive. Your gifts are far greater than whatever has you stuck but it's up to you to decide when you are ready to move your life forward.
Define success for yourself. Motivate yourself to be successful. Eliminate the negativity in your life. Question what you believe. And celebrate the success you deserve.
Fear of success can be a greater challenge than the fear of failure because it’s often hidden in our less conscious thoughts. Don't let the fear of success hold you back, select one area to take action on today.
● Reflect and make a list of the times you’ve sabotaged yourself. Review your education, career, relationships, and finances and notice if were self-sabotaging.
● Create a vision for your best life. Throw caution to the wind and don’t worry about being practical. Keep making alterations until it’s as positive and exciting as you can stand. Write it down.
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