Fear of success

Are you afraid that you’ll succeed? Fear of success is real, and it holds us back

With the 20/20 vision that hindsight affords, fear of success sounds a bit silly… but it doesn’t feel like that at the time. If we’re honest with ourselves, we will recognise the grip of fear as soon as something starts to go our way.

We might worry about our friends not recognising us, about our children feeling abandoned, about all manners of outlandish scenarios that all have one aim: slamming down the brakes on our enthusiasm and our progress by assaulting us with “what ifs”.

One thing we need to be very clear on is that, in our imagination, these scenarios steamroll over us as if we didn’t have any control whatsoever.

In real life, though, we do have control, we can communicate with people, and people are happy to share their feelings with us. We can monitor all these things, make sure we spend quality time with our friends and our children – or whatever measure you want to put in place to make sure the important things in your life are not neglected.


Remember to ask “What if it works out – what then?”

“What’s the worst that can happen?” is an important question to ask when contemplating any new venture. Really calculating the worst-case scenario allows you to see that this scenario either isn’t as bad as you feared, or can definitely (and sometimes easily) be avoided by putting certain safeguards in place.

In other words, you make worry work for you by ensuring you have considered what can go wrong and how you will deal with it if it does.

There is a technical term for this: “downside risk management”. Often when people talk about a new idea, the question “What could go wrong, what if it does?” is very much on their minds.

To manage this scenario, they imagine capping the money they put into the venture, giving themselves a certain timeframe and if their project doesn’t take off by a certain date, they will stop; or taking a slight dent to their confidence if things don’t go as planned. These worst-case scenarios are acceptable to them as the price for the possibility of success.

But – what if things go better than you expect? You might be so focused on getting it to work at all that you’re afraid to get your hopes up. However, managing upside risk follows the same “problem-solving” process.

For example, what if we have too many bookings? We can have a bigger room on standby or put extra dates on the web site. If I have a greater workload than I can handle, then I can search for an assistant. If I make more money than I’m comfortable with, then I can seek out a charity partner or re-invest it into the company.


Fear of success can be tackled – here’s how

  • Acknowledge that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed by thoughts of success, but there are many factors in your control.
  • Talk it through with somebody who has your best interests at heart but isn’t affected by the situation – on Career Mum BECKSearch you will find dozens of people who can help you see your way through a situation. Get in touch with them.
  • Consider the actual “problems” you think your might encounter and consider the things you could do, which processes you can put in place and which boundaries you don’t want to cross, based on your values, to make sure these “problems” don’t arise or are tackled early and effectively.
  • With your advisor, go through different scenarios and come up with a plan of action.
  • Go for it!

Yes, success is scary. It brings its own host of preoccupations. However, would you prefer to wistfully nostalgise about what might have been?

Ask for expert guidance on Career Mum BECKSearch and plan for your success – no stress!

January 29, 2019