Fear of Failure…or Success?
Last week I was coaching with a new client, a fantastic individual that is looking to make some long-lasting changes in his life. We were discussing fear of failure and how paralyzing it is and I brought up that fear of succeeding is just as paralyzing. He stopped and looked at me and said “Fear of succeeding? How can success be a bad thing?”
An honest question and a good one at that and here are my thoughts on this, see if they hit home.
We know that failing at something brings with it the possibility of shame, humiliation, anger, self-doubt, self-loathing, guilt or a host of other emotions. Did we do all we could to succeed? Should we have done something else? Why didn’t this work for us? Where did we go wrong? We ask our self over and over again and many times, we stop right there and give up. Because we have all failed at something before in our lives, we remember this and oftentimes this fear paralyzes us and we won’t take on anything new. We assume that because we’ve failed in the past, surely we’ll fail in the future.
There’s also fear of success. We place all kinds of pressure on our self to be good and to have a happy life and make money. Have you ever said to yourself at some point; “Once I have my degree, everything will be better for me.” “Once I get that job…” “As soon as I lose those last 20 lbs…” “Once I have a girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband/kids…” Our life will be better ONCE we have something which we don’t currently have. We place pressure in our life to have a better life and there is where the fear lies because we equate having those things with success. What happens if life isn’t more grand with those things? We got the better paying job but we didn’t notice measurable improvement or more happiness. We had kids and our life wasn’t what we thought. We lost our weight but nothing is better in our life. We’re “successful” in the way we defined success but we’re not happy. Maybe we set more goals for success but that happy or better life eludes us. What gives? We now have a fear of success because success (again, as we defined it) doesn’t bring about a better life.
Does this sound like you? Is your fear of failure or success holding you back, paralyzing you? It doesn’t have to. You can create goals for yourself that you don’t have to fear. Goals that will create a better life for you…coaching can help.