When we want to achieve great goals or make big qualitative leaps in our lives which involve substantial changes, it is not only their difficulty that influences or not their achievement. Sometimes, one of the biggest obstacles we find to make the leap to another level is fear of succeeding. It is the “what if I really succeed?” syndrome.

Situations of this kind arise when we ask (or are nominated) for promotion, when a new approach can alter our life and comfort zone, a leap towards another type of activity we always wanted to do, when we set up a business or start working on our own, etc… When we have not yet abandoned our current situation but are envisioning the new future reality is when fear of success unexpectedly happens to most of us.

What if everything goes as well as I imagined?

This idea is often caused by the environment and the new reality that brings with it the change which we are trying to come to. Will I be able to cope with my new life? With my new profession? What would happen if I left everything and earn my living doing what I really want to do? What fears and thoughts prevent me from taking more direct and decisive actions?

When you change your life, you change the reality in which you move: friends, work colleagues, schedules,… to say some of the most obvious things. For example, if you start working with animals as you have always wanted and stop working in a company, or if you begin writing books as you once dreamed, new experiences, people, opportunities, obligations, etc… will appear in your life. To be willing to accept them is part of the new level of the game. Rising to this new level is seldom just dragging with you what you have around. New challenges unfold, new lessons in life, new learnings. You have to learn new things, study, practice, get rid of many things (in all senses).

A reality shift

One of the most important things to take into consideration to consciously be able to make the changes we need is to accept the issues which may stand along the way while we head towards the new reality and make or accept the change we had decided to implement, no matter what. Contrary to what we think about fear of failure, fear of success is much more difficult to control because it is far more unconscious and most of the times we are not aware of it. We are more fearful of the side effects brought by that change than by change itself.

Fear of success arises because we think maybe we can find ourselves with more money than we could ever dreamed of in our current job, living the life we always wanted to live, surrounded by the environment we always longed for, being as happy as we had never been previously or getting something we are scared at how good it can turn into. All this unconsciously frightens us: Will I be able to handle my new situation? Will I know how to integrate everything that will happen to me? Isn’t it better to stay safe with what I have right now?

Most of us, sometimes and unconsciously, postpone changes or keep them at the lowest levels. The professional who launches a new service but stays in his current job, “just in case”, without realizing he is not really trying hard to get new clients, fearing that if everything goes well he can be overwhelmed and will have to face leaving the comfort zone of his present job. The amateur writer who hesitates to finish writing the novel and send it to the publisher, because he can suddenly become famous and it can get out of hand. Or the painter who only shows his paintings to his friends, although everyone knows that if he took them out to the public they would be masterpieces, etc.

The problem is all of us are afraid that things go extremely well. Our life would change and obviously, we wonder how our friends, family and colleagues would see us when in another milieu, in other circles, doing other things in an environment that our family and friends will not be able to join. Should we want to get rid of fear of success, we have to be aware that maybe we have to leave things along the way, friends or people who are no longer vibrating at our same frequency and that we cannot drag with us anymore.

Overcome fear of success

Actually, all we have to do to address these fears is to ask ourselves: What would happen if I am successful doing what I want and working on what I really want (should it be accepting a new proposal or starting a new business)? By focusing our attention on these fears we can bring them to light. Internal fears are like vampires who cannot withstand sunlight and disappear and vanish under direct scrutiny. Removing from our subconscious what may condition our success and bringing it to a conscious level makes it lose much of the power it may have over us.

Do not be afraid of succeeding. Actually, success is waiting for you in that place where you have always wanted to go. Consider what you need to do to make the leap and go for it. You will appreciate it.