The five fears that hold you back – success

There are plenty of logical reasons why we don’t reach the success we really want. But one less rational explanation is that we’re actually scared of achieving our goals!

In the past couple of weeks, career management coach and corporate trainer Jane Jackson has shared some of the five big fears that hold us back in our careers:

This week she tackles the third big fear – fear of success, explaining why it can hold us back, and how to move beyond it, and attain goals that are in line with your personal values.

Is fear of success holding you back?

Have you thought that what might be holding you back from achieving what you hope for is actually the possibility, or even probability, of success?

As ridiculous as it may sound, fear of success is a big stumbling block for many people, and one that is important to overcome if you want to move beyond where you are right now.

What does success mean to you?

The first thing you need to do is to understand what specifically success means to you. Is it more time freedom? More money? More recognition? A promotion?

Once you are specific about what success is to you, then you can be clear about what you will gain from achieving it, and then, on the flip side, consider what you will LOSE from achieving the success you wish for.

Because even if you haven’t consciously considered what you’d need to give up to get what you think you want, your unconscious certainly knows, and may be protecting you from paying the price by holding you back.

What you win and lose from success

To help you get started, let’s discuss some possible scenarios from the few examples above – looking at what success may mean to you, and what you gain and lose in achieving it.

More time freedom 

What do you want more time for? To study, relax, exercise, be with family or friends, travel or sleep? It’s easy to come up with lots of positive reasons to want more time freedom, but what about the negatives?

In order to gain more time freedom you will have to give up something that is taking up your time now. For example, if you decide to work shorter hours then that may mean less income, if you decline a promotion that will give you more responsibility and status you may feel less fulfilled at work, or if you give up a voluntary role you have held you may feel you will let down the group.

Try to work out what you will need to give up in order to gain the time freedom you want, and whether you are happy (and willing) to make that sacrifice.

More money 

Again, what do you want more money for? To pay for all those material things you dream of, to pay bills, to provide for your family or extended family, or give to charity?

But as before, in order to gain more money you will have to either win the lottery or, more likely, work harder or smarter. And if you gain more money from working harder or longer, then you will lose a certain amount of time freedom.

More recognition 

What will recognition give you? Personal satisfaction, status and maybe more money in the long run?

And what will you need to do to gain that recognition? You’ll need to put time and effort into being the best you can be in your field of choice – and how will your family feel about this?

How would the level of recognition you gain affect your friendships, too? Are you willing to give up some of your time freedom to achieve something that will affect those around you either positively or not quite as positively? 

A promotion 

So many of us dream of getting promoted and all the benefits that come with it… more money, more recognition, more power etc.

But once more, what will you give up if you got that promotion? How would your partner feel if they didn’t achieve for themsel’ves the level of success that you did? Would it upset the status quo? And would the extra responsibility mean more time at work?

What’s holding you back from the success you want?

It’s important to understand exactly what ‘success’ you want to achieve, and what price you (and you family and friends) may need to pay for it.

What will help to guide you are your personal values. So write down all the values that you hold dear – such as family, friendships, community spirit, money, status, recognition, freedom, knowledge, excitement, health, balance.

Then list, in order of priority to you, your personal values and analyse which ones are being met at this point in your life. If you are able to meet all of your top 10 personal values, take a step back and consider what success actually means to you.

You may realise that you have already achieved the success you need. Or you may get clarity on what is missing, and what you really should be going for.

And with a clear direction and realisation and acceptance of the price you may need to pay for that success, you can work steadily towards it, without any hidden fear that it may actually come about!

Jane Jackson is a career management coach and corporate trainer specialising in building the confidence of executives who have experienced a redundancy or are at a crossroads in their careers. Her 7 Step C.A.R.E.E.R.S. programme, addresses all of these mistakes.