We all want success, but actually many of us fear it as well. Why do we do that, and how can we break it down? Here’s one universal approach that will help you deal with a major portion of your fear of success.
One of my current challenges is to stop staying up too late.
I know, it’s really not a huge problem — but nevertheless, it is on my list of habits to change. It’s unhealthy and potentially dangerous, as I can get sleepy when I’m driving.
The thing is, though, I’d have a few days of going to bed on time, and feeling rested. But after 3-4 days, my body starts craving the tiredness from sleep deprivation.
Can you believe it? I actually crave it!
So much so that I just feel too much energy at my bed time. And when I have the energy, I go “I’m not tired yet — I can go have some fun, or get something useful done.”
What I Am Used to
We’re all creatures of habits, and we all feel uncomfortable with unknowns.
These two qualities can play against our healing and growth.
What’s happening to me is that my body is so accustomed to the state of sleep deprivation that it feels normal.
Similarly, if you live a life that’s really not to your liking, you still get used to that being normal.
The other day, I took a day off from my work to spend a day doing what I love to do.
I was sitting in a local coffeehouse with my laptop, but for the first hour or so I was very distracted — I kept looking over my shoulder to see if someone (from my work, perhaps?) would just come in and discover me doing something I’m not supposed to be doing.
I took a very legitimate vacation day, with the blessing from my boss! My family was engaged elsewhere, so I wasn’t needed there either. The day was all mine — and what I chose to do with it was nobody else’s business.
Then why did I feel so uncomfortable?
Because normal, to me, is spending my day meeting someone else’s needs.
Once I got over this initial discomfort, I went on to have the time of my life. It was a great day.
Fear of Success — at least a Part of It
These experience informed me about what it is we’re up against in our pursuit of our success:
- Success is a foreign concept to our system, and
- Our system wants what’s familiar to it.
Together, these can create a very potent self-sabotage system. I’m not saying that’s all there is to fear of success, but it is at least a part of it.
If you’re used to processed, unhealthy food, healthy food may not taste good to you. Your healthier, leaner body may feel foreign to you. It takes your switching your default mode — what is “normal” to your system — for you to sustain that state.
If you’re used to being belittled by your family, friends and colleagues, you don’t have much faith in a situation where everybody praises and affirms you. You’d think there’s something wrong with that picture! The chances are, you’d think the situation wouldn’t last long — and when you’re back being belittled, you’d feel a strange sense of comfort, knowing that you landed back to the reality as you know it.
Strategies for Successful Change
I won’t go into specifics, as this applies to many cases, from habit change to career advancement to a broader sense of success in your life. But through them all, a few core principles do emerge:
- Reduce stress and boost your resources. Even if it’s a positive change, it’s still taxing to your systems. Get sleep, eat well, exercise, line up your friends to rally around you — so you can get over the initial discomfort.
- Experience success, in however small ways you can. My day of living the way I want was such an attempt — now that I worked over the initial hump, next time I will not have to deal with my fear of success as much. But it’s even better if it’s in small but regular dosages. This is why ideas like 30-day trials are so powerful. (Read about Hunter’s trial) The idea is to get your system used to your success.
- Do it in increments. Since succeeding is a stressful change, don’t necessarily go for big changes — take baby steps, get used to the change, and then go for a bigger one. If you do plan to go for a big one, be sure to do more of #1 & 2.
Here’s the bottom line: you can beat the fear of success by making success feel normal to you. I’m sure there are all kinds of tricks, hacks and techniques for producing that result.
What was your fear of success? And if you beat it, how did you do it?
Still need to learn more about fear of success? Read the continuation: Are You Sabotaging Your Success?