The idea that someone can be afraid of success sounds odd to many people. Fear of

failure is easier for most people to comprehend, but a fear of success? It sounds


After all, who wouldn’t want to be more successful? Perhaps you!

Fear of success is a common obstacle to consistent and lasting success. People

are often masters of achieving 90% of a goal, only to throw it all away at the last


Fear of success has multiple components and symptoms. Read on to see if a fear of

success is an obstacle for you.

The fear of success has more than one cause:

1. Fear of change.

Humans are programmed to avoid change. This is true even if

your life is in the pits. Why would this be? Because, even if you’re highly

displeased with your life, you’re still surviving.

● Your brain is concerned about what might happen if your situation

changes. As far as your brain is concerned, alive and miserable is better

than possibly happy and dead.

2. Fear of greater responsibility.

Success brings more responsibility. In many cases, you have to become more responsible to experience more success.

When you’ve become successful, people expect more from you.

● Starting a business and experiencing success is great, but now you might

have employees that rely on you.

● Building a real estate empire sounds great, but now you have tenants,

debt, and complex taxes to deal with.

3. Fear of standing out.

Some people love attention, but many do not. People

notice when you’re successful, and many will dislike you for it. Jealousy and

feelings of mediocrity can bring out the worst in others.

● There are people that would prefer to just blend into the background than

stand in the spotlight. Perhaps you feel this way, too.

Those that fear success show several of the same symptoms:

1. Self-sabotage.

Everyone has experienced that before. You’re doing well and

making great progress. Then, it seems like the wheels just fall off. You make silly

mistakes. You make poor choices. This is easy to see in others but can be

challenging to identify in yourself.

2. Changing goals.

You get close to achieving success and then suddenly decide

to change your mind and do something else instead. If you keep changing

direction, you’ll never make any real progress. Choose an appealing goal and

stick with it.

3. Procrastination.

A sudden lack of motivation is a common sign that you’re afraid

of success. Procrastination is a primary killer of progress.

A fear of success can be managed. Try these techniques:

1. Determine the cause.

What are you actually afraid of? Determine the cause of

your fear, and you’ll have a chance to work around it. You can’t defeat the enemy

you can’t see.

2. Notice how that fear changes your thoughts and behavior.

What does that fear do to you? What are the symptoms of your fear of success? How are your

thinking and behavior altered by this fear?

3. Face, rather than avoid, your fears.

Avoiding your fear leads to failure.

Develop a strategy for working around your fear. Become more resistant to

fear. Give yourself a pep talk or enlist the help of a friend. Do whatever you need

to do to continue making progress.

If you’re not sure why success seems to elude you, consider the possibility that you’re

afraid of success. Do you have any of the symptoms? How successful do you think

you’ve been to this point in your life? Are you underachieving?

A fear of success makes sense when you consider the source of that fear. However,

what makes sense isn’t necessarily the most desired option. Overcome your fear of

success and achieve the greatness you deserve.