Fear of success. Totally BS, right? Who on Earth could be afraid of rocking at life and having lots of money?
Well, turns out, every single creative person ever. Sometimes fear of success is even greater than our fear of failure.
Now, everyone has experienced fear of failure. It’s as normal as eating a donut in the hall closet so your kids don’t see you and want a bite.
Failure is inevitable. We all fail at things all the time, it’s part of being human. People expect it of us. Society prepares us for failure.
Raise your hand if your mother has some sort of cheesy wooden sign in her kitchen about getting knocked down and getting back up again?
Oh, that’s in your kitchen?
But a fear of success is a much sneakier thing, and something we don’t talk enough about in society. Especially a society that is driven by winning all the time, but that doesn’t like to admit it. We give kids participation trophies, for crying out loud! If we’re going to celebrate simply running the race, then obviously we can’t admit we’re afraid of failure or awesomeness.
Still, that doesn’t really explain why you would be afraid of building a fabulous writing business.
I mean, what … you’re supposed to be afraid of paying off your student loans, eating well and buying a boat?
I know, right. Seems confusing. But actually, there’s a lot hidden in success that can be pretty scary.
For starters, future expectation.
When you fail, the people around you might be disappointed in you for a moment or two, but then they get over it and move onto the next shiny object, like the new 8-inch disco ball I just got to hang in my window during the summer. The little rainbows are so beautiful and my cat just loves to – see, it happened again!
When you succeed at something, people start looking to you for future successes. Once you have done something others perceive as great, they often put you on a pedestal and assume everything you do will be successful from then on. That pedestal can often be very high and far to fall from, or at least that is what we perceive it to be.
Hence our fear.
Another fear of success is commonly tied to our fear of things changing.
We may not realize it, but we are creatures of habit, and as such we fear change and the unknown. We often want things to change – the promotion, a new house, a career change – but we are afraid of what else that change might bring. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, as they say.
FYI, I think that’s crap.
Success means change; failure usually means things stay the same. We can’t expect to achieve the things we want in life if we aren’t willing to give into the fear of things changing.
But our greatest challenge when it comes to the fear of success is often the way we see ourselves.
We all have that internal voice that tells us we aren’t good enough, that we can’t wear our donut-pattern* flannel pajama pants out in public because we’ll be shamed by others.
Just me on that one?
That voice thinks it’s protecting us from disappointment by assuming the worst will happen, and then we get so used to that voice that we stop even trying for the things we want. But what we often fear inside is not that the voice is right, but that it’s wrong. That we are better at something, or have more abilities than we think we do.
The author and motivational speaker Marianne Williamson says, “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 dark that most frightens us.”
It seems backward, but the truth is, if we are “powerful beyond measure,” that means we can do whatever we set our minds to. And that can seem like we should do whatever we set our minds to, rather than watch Netflix and sun ourselves in the yard.
To be fair, I believe in a life that incorporates healthy amounts of both. The fear of success, though, is often the fear that if our dreams are possible, that means we need to put in work, and effort and time.
So next time you’re afraid to pitch an idea to a client, go after a new client, or even try working on a fiction project, take a second to sit back and think about what’s stopping you, and how you can overcome that hurdle.
Unless the hurdle is whether or not to wear the donut pajamas out of the house, because that really is a hard no.
(Want to learn more about becoming a no-fear, awesomely paid writer? Check out the Free Resource Library below.)
* I obviously need to stop thinking about donuts.
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