The Challenge: Everyone wants to fulfill their dreams, but some find it harder than others
The Science: Fear of success, and not fear of failure, might be holding you back
The Solution: Improve your attitude towards success to have a better chance at obtaining it.
Fear of success seems counterintuitive. Everyone wants to be successful. Yet, even as early as 1916, Sigmund Freud identified a personality type that had this exact problem. He noticed in his clinical studies that there are certain people who, upon attaining their goals, found it impossible to enjoy their success, and even tried to undo it.
Your attitude towards success might be the only thing that’s actually holding you back.
1. Identify The Root Of The Problem
As with any psychoanalytic approach, before you can start to think about a cure, you have to identify the cause of your problem. This might be trickier than it sounds. While Freud’s notion of repression has seen some refinements over the decades, the main principle still holds true. People tend to “forget” the things that caused them pain.
2. Stop Making Success More Important Than It Has To Be
If becoming successful is the only thing you think about during the day, and the one thing that keeps you up at night, it might a good idea to take a break, and focus on other things. Making success look like the be all, end all, is bound to terrify you. Setting highly restrictive goals for yourself can actually make you less productive, and thus less likely to succeed.
3. Find Patterns of Behavior
Think about the things you are more likely to do in certain situations. Do you avoid taking chances when they are bound to fail, or when there is a risk of success? Is there some common thread to your decisions? These behavioral patterns can point you
in the direction of your real problems, and can change your perspective on success.
4. Understand that Success Truly Isn’t Everything
Part of the reason why you might be avoiding success is because you think that once you get it, there’s nothing left for you to do. Our obsession with success starts early on, and it can be very damaging. But if you take a step back, you’re going to realize that there’s so much more to life than work and Success.
5. Talk to People
Talking to someone about your problems has long been considered a very effective remedy
. In psychoanalysis, this is called ‘the talking cure.’ Talking about your problems is difficult, until you get started. But once you get going, you might discover that many people share the same worries as you, and suddenly, you’ll realize your problems are not as grave as you thought.
6. Find a Definition of Success that Works for You
Just like happiness, success can mean a lot of different things, for a lot of different people. And these definitions can change over time. Figure out what success means to you, and stop trying to achieve someone else’s idea of success.
7. Enjoy Your Smaller Achievements
Don’t get trapped in your vision of success. Be proud of your minor victories, and find joy in the smaller things, and you may come to realize that they’re not small at all. They are important stepping stones on the road towards your main goals.
8. Do Things Without A Goal In Mind
Do the things you would normally do in order to fulfill your goals, but do them just for the heck of it. Being obsessed with work can really hinder your creativity, and ultimately make you less productive. Learn new things just because you want to, without any clear goal in my mind. You’ll discover that your desire for success doesn’t have to be your primary motivator in every situation.
9. Find The Building Blocks Of Your Success Story
As the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Break down your long-term plans into manageable goals, rather than trying to see them as massive, singular tasks, and figure out the process you need to accomplish them.
10. Focus On The Ride, Not The Destination
There’s a long road ahead of you before you reach your ultimate goals. Stop thinking about this process as a sort of obstacle. Instead, accept the fact that, for better or worse, every step is a necessary one, and if you try to put them out of your mind, you might be missing out on a lot of wonderful stories you could recount, further down the line.
11. Help Others In Achieving Their Goals
Take some time away from your concerns, and find ways you can help others. There’s a certain kind of satisfaction that comes from contributing someone else’s success. And this experience can also give you some space to think about your own attitude towards your goals, and accomplishments.
12. Understand That There Is No Success, Just Successes
In the end, you’ll come to see that there really is no one big Success, with a capital S, just lots and lots of successes. After all, once you’ve achieved something, did you ever stop? Or did you just move on to your next big conquest?
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Mike Jones is a Boston University graduate, with an MS in Mass Communication. He specializes in personal growth and health related articles. He wants to share his knowledge about home remedies, detox tea recipes and super foods to help people live a healthier life.