From fear to freedom: Overcoming your fear of success

fear freedom success Apr 16, 2023

Success is something that we all strive for, and often the journey is more rewarding than the results. For many, success is something that most people aspire to achieve in their lives, but fear is the phenomenon that holds them back.

Fear of success can manifest in various ways. Some people may experience anxiety, worry, or stress when they think about achieving their goals. Others may procrastinate or sabotage their own success. Often, this results in the exact same result for anyone that doesn’t learn to manage their fear: the dreams are given up on, and that’s that. You know most people don’t fail because they tried something, and it did not work. Most people fail because they stop before they even start. We don’t allow ourselves enough time to success.

If fear is something that has stopped you or is stopping you from reaching your dreams, it’s not a sign of weakness. Fear is a universal force that exists to keep us safe from harm, helping us to avoid danger.

Exercising caution in all aspects of life, from business to relationships, is an important action that can lead us astray from bad decisions, but many people find it difficult to find the balance between being restrained from caution and being crippled by fear.

Fear of success is a broad term, but in a nutshell, most of us don’t just feel failure, but we also fear how great we can be and stop ourselves in our tracks. You think about yourself for a moment. When was the last time you daydreamed? And when you start to dream big, the second you start to take it seriously and want to do something about it, how does that make you feel? Nervous right? So, fear comes from a number of additional factors and pressures that come with the journey to success including but not limited to:

  • Fear of change: Success requires removing oneself from their comfort zone, and this change can be frightening. Our prehistoric brains are designed to protect us and change is a threat to our survival.
  • Fear of responsibility: Being part of a team or project means having responsibilities that need to be managed, and the inability to achieve these can be crippling, especially in roles of leadership. Again, our prehistoric brain protects us by telling us we need to belong. Failing others could trigger the brain to think we will be rejected and so protects us by creating this fear.
  • Fear of failure: One of the self-fulfilling prophecies of failure is that the more we think about it and worry about it, the more likely we are to will it into existence. We create our reality and where you focus your attention is where you energy flows. Wins beget more wins just like failure begets more failure.
  • Fear of negative attention: With success brings criticism and judgment, which can weigh heavily given that we have an innate need to belong and be protected by the herd.


Understand the Source of Your Fear

To know where to start, it’s essential to face up and admit what it is you are actually afraid of. Is it change, responsibility, the possibility of failure, or negative attention?

Once you look introspectively and work out what it is that instils fear in you, you can establish what you are up against. By understanding the root of your fear, you can identify the specific aspects of success that you are afraid of and address them directly. This can involve reframing your mindset, focusing on the potential rewards of success, and finding ways to manage the potential risks.


Define Success

Success is subjective and can vary from person to person. While some may define success in terms of wealth and status, others may prioritise personal growth or happiness. It's important to identify what success means to you and set achievable goals that align with your values and aspirations. By doing so, you can create a clear vision of success that motivates and inspires you to overcome fear and take action.

Here's a little secret, define success in a way that focuses on your growth. Defining success is different from defining your goals. For example, I define my success as being the “…progressive realising of a worthy ideal or goal.” -  Napoleon Hill. Once I define my goal my only job is to take daily action that will get me closer to my lofty audacious goal. 


Challenge Your Limiting Beliefs

Fear of success is often fuelled by limiting beliefs, such as "I'm not good enough", "I don't deserve success" or "I'm not capable of handling success". These beliefs can be deeply ingrained and challenging to overcome, but they are not necessarily accurate or true.

One way to challenge these beliefs is to look for evidence that contradicts them. For example, if you believe that you're not capable of handling success, look for instances in your life where you have succeeded in challenging situations. Reflect on your strengths and accomplishments and recognise that you have the skills and abilities to succeed.


Take Action and Embrace Failure

The fear of success can lead to procrastination and avoidance, but the only way to overcome it is to take action. Set specific goals and take the necessary steps to achieve your objectives. Embrace failure as a part of the process. Accept that setbacks and mistakes are inevitable, but they are also opportunities for growth and learning. Instead of seeing failure as a sign of defeat, reframe it as a valuable experience that can help you improve and refine your approach. After all, F.A.I.L does stand for the First Act in Learning.


Surround Yourself with Supportive People

Surround yourself with people who believe in you, support your goals, and encourage you to succeed. Avoid people who are unsupportive of your ambitions and critical of your beliefs. Mentorship from those who have faced similar challenges to you can give you inspiration and intelligent advice.



The fear of success can be a significant barrier to achieving your goals and living the life that you want. By understanding the source of your fear, challenging your limiting beliefs, breaking the activities down to their lowest common denominator, taking action, embracing failure, and surrounding yourself with supportive people, you can work through your fear and achieve your full potential.


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