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Everybody knows that fear of failure can sometimes get in the way.

But fear of success often goes unnoticed, and it can be an even bigger obstacle…

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do then by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.” – Mark Twain

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.  People tend to be most afraid of the same things they most desire.

Think about it for a moment.  Think about one of the things you most desire – one of your biggest dreams.  Isn’t the thought of it exhilarating?  Your life would probably be very different than it is now.  In fact, I would guess that it’s hard to predict all of the ways that your life would be different.  There is a certain amount of “unknown” that comes along with the achievement of most big goals or dreams.  This is one of the things that can make us fear success.  Success means change, and change means the unknown, and human beings both crave and resist the unknown.

Success sometimes means increased responsibility.  For example, if one of your dreams is to make a lot of money, having a lot of money will mean being responsible for effectively managing more assets.

Perhaps you have a goal to advance to a leadership position in your company.  Again, this would mean increased responsibility.

If you own your own business and you want to increase your number of clients this means you would now have more clients to serve.

If you’ve always rented, and you have a goal to own your own dream home, along with home ownership comes increased responsibility for maintenance, paying the mortgage, etc.

Sometimes success means you will be in the spotlight and more people will be looking to you to set an example.  Let’s say you have a dream to become a best-selling author, or a famous actor.  Your success will certainly put many more pairs of scrutinizing eyes on you and your life.  Suddenly, you may feel that you have to hold yourself to a higher standard.  That might not be something you feel prepared for.

Perhaps your dream is to meet your ideal mate, fall in love, and get married.  This would mean giving up some of your independence, as well as making yourself vulnerable to the potential loss of that relationship, and the heartbreak of disappointment.

Sometimes success puts a strain on your relationships with friends, family and significant others.  For example, imagine that your goal is to lose weight.  You are overweight and so is your spouse, and the two of you enjoy eating a lot of fattening foods together.  If you successfully lose the weight that you want to lose, and they stay the same, this could create a dissonance in your relationship.

Or maybe you’re single and overweight.  Losing the weight will probably mean that you start getting increased attention from the opposite sex.  This may be something you both crave and fear.

Perhaps you and most of your friends make under $100,000 per year.  You have a goal to increase your income substantially.  If you succeed, your lifestyle will probably change, and this will likely put a strain on many of your friendships.

Perhaps your vision is to double or triple your number of clients, but you’re already having trouble serving the clients you have now.  So you both crave, and resist, having more clients at the same time.

Perhaps your vision is to grow a large and successful company that changes the world in a substantial way.  You may fear that when you reach this dream, you won’t have the capacity to manage it all.

If you’re already challenged by not having enough time, just imagine how bad it could get when you’re more successful!

These are just a few examples of the reasons why people fear and resist success.

Here’s my handy dandy fool proof formula for overcoming the fear of success…

Step 1:  First, imagine yourself being *extremely* successful.  How would your life change?  What are the potential side effects?

Step 2:  Become aware of any fears.  Face the potential downside of success.  See if you can get yourself more familiar and comfortable with these potential challenges.  Decide if you’re willing to embrace these challenges.

Step 3:  Make a plan for dealing with any potential downsides that might accompany success.  Imagine yourself handling the challenges gracefully.

Step 4:  Visualize being successful and get yourself used to the idea of living your dream.  Imagine yourself handling any potential downside effectively.

Step 5:  If necessary, update your definition of success to include handling any possible side effects with grace and ease.  After all, it might not really be “success” if you’re sacrificing too much to truly enjoy it.

Now get yourself in the game… get on the court and play with all your heart… and trust that you’ll be able to handle all side effects of winning!

What are you afraid will happen when you are successful, and what would it take to face your fear and move forward powerfully?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please post a comment below…

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