Episode 414: 5 Signs You’re Scared of Success

Fearing success is actually way more common than you’d think. And that’s kinda crazy, right? 

Even though we’re consciously working towards it, we unconsciously stop ourselves from getting it. It’s no wonder we can feel so stuck.

Fear of success means that you are scared that you’ll actually be able to accomplish the things you’ve been thinking about… and that feels so uncertain and unfamiliar that you hold yourself back.

At every level of your business, you can experience this fear of success.

I’m at the level of success I’m at now and I’m still experiencing this. I have to get myself to a new self-image where I’m able to create more success and feel safe in that success.

In this podcast episode, I share why we experience fear of success and my personal struggles with it. I also talk about 5 of the signs that you’re scared of success and what to do about it.

Fear of success might actually be the thing that’s stopping you from taking those next steps in your business. Listen to this episode now.

Find the full episode transcript and show notes at samlaurabrown.com/episode414.

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • My personal struggles with the fear of success
  • 5 of the signs that you’re scared of success
  • The most practical thing you can do about the fear of success

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Hi and welcome to another episode of The Perfectionism Project. A podcast full of perfectionism advice for entrepreneurs. My name is Sam Laura Brown, I help entrepreneurs release their perfectionism handbrake, so they can get out of their own way and build a fulfilling and profitable business. I’m the founder of the Perfectionist Getting Shit Done group coaching program, which is otherwise known as PGSD. And for even more perfectionism advice to help you with your business. You can follow me on Instagram @perfectionismproject.

Sam Laura Brown

In today’s episode, I’m going to be sharing with you five signs that you are scared of success. This is a topic that really tends to resonate with us perfectionist, that we want nothing more than to be successful and feel that validation and approval that we so desperately wants. And we don’t feel like we’re good enough. And yet at the same time, we are scared of putting one foot in front of the other, getting out of our own way, taking those next steps. Because what if it actually works? What if we’re successful, that feels so unfamiliar and uncertain? It’s risky to our relationships. Like, how might our relationships change in terms of friendships, our partner, our kids, like, what will people think of me if I am successful, there’s so many things that come up, when we are actually faced with the reality of being the kind of person who can be successful and knowing what to do to be successful, that we often get in our own way.

Because of the shame that we think might follow the success. We know that perfectionism is a strategy to avoid shame. And a lot of times we talk about perfectionism being about fear and fear of judgment and fear of failure. And initially, when I first started learning about perfectionism, I really did see it that way that it was just about fear, and ultimately fear of failure and judgment. But really, this fear of success piece is a very important one to talk about. Because this might be the thing that is stopping you from taking those next steps in your business, that you are just scared shitless that it might actually work.

And so what we want to do is help you to think about it differently. And really just be able to calm your nervous system down. So you feel safe, moving forward, so you feel safe, and doing the things that you know, you need to do. So to share all of this with you. What I’m going to be doing is actually sharing an episode that I recorded in 2018. And I just this morning, I was thinking about what to share on the podcast and what you might need to hear like what might be going on for you. And this fear of success stuff. This isn’t a topic that I’ve talked about in an explicit way. Recently, I have been talking about it ad nauseam in the sense of me figuring out how to let things be simple and easy and feeling so much resistance to that.

And really ultimately like that is that fear of success, that comes with perfectionism and just wanting to have control over everything. And ultimately, when we feel like we want to control things, the best way our brain feels like we can do that is by keeping things the same and keeping ourselves stuck. So I have been at the level of success. I’m at now experiencing this. And I’m getting myself to a new self image a new level where I’m able to create more success and feel safe in that success. But this episode from 2018 is so powerful. And I recorded it when I was still working in a part time job. So the year prior, I left my full time accounting job. So I have a law degree and a finance degree I graduated in mid 2015 and I worked for a couple of years in insolvency accounting.

I started my business as a blog in 2013 while I was a uni student, I had hoped that it would be off the ground. And by the time I graduated, it was not because of my perfectionism handbrake. So I was still following the path that I thought I should, which was just going into the corporate world, like putting one foot in front of the other in that way, because it just felt scary to go all in on my blog, my business, and to really give that a full effort. So at this time, I had left that full time job I had mustered up the courage and it did it required like legs trembling, to take that leap to leave my full time job. I did though, go to a part time job.

And I’ve talked about that in different podcast episodes as well. But I went to a part time job to support myself so that I didn’t put pressure on the business to make money that really felt right for me at the time. So I was working part time as a receptionist at one of the local hospitals here in Brisbane. I did that in the afternoons. And I had also at the time of recording this I had just rebranded from smart 20s which is what my blog was initially called to Sam Laura Brown. I mentioned that in this episode about it being weird to saying Sam Laura Brown because that isn’t actually like my name in real life in the sense that like, it’s Samantha, not Sam, when I say my full name anyway, just give it a bit of context here.

So I had just rebranded. And I really was at this point of like, knowing like I hadn’t had my first six figure year yet, I hadn’t really been able to, I mean, I’ve gotten out of my way, own way in so many ways. But I hadn’t really, I hadn’t been able to truly move the needle in the way that I wanted to. And in the end of 2018, like 2019, I started to do that. And then in a much bigger way, once I figured out like how to plan properly and really be productive, and walking away, that worked for my perfectionist mindset. But all of this really came after a period of just figuring things out. And so I thought, me sharing this episode when I was in the thick of that stage of the business. And yet at the same time, this is really if I recorded this topic, again, this is very similar stuff to what I would share today.

And it was also just comforting to hear the wisdom from past me, is still applicable all these years later. So I hope it is helpful to hear from myself during that time period. And that it really as well. I just wanted to mention before we get into the episode, it really what I talked about in this episode with the signs that you’re scared of success, like I couldn’t, in this episode at a time, offer a solution to how to overcome that fear of success. There are a few tips I share in this episode, I think they are really helpful, for sure. But I didn’t have a tool that I could really offer to say here’s actually how to do it and how to work through this in a methodical practical way.

It’s just like, you know, a few tips and tricks that you hopefully will remember to walk into your week. So power planning, planning property, like having your growth goal. All of that is a tool that I am using today. And PGSD is used to overcome their fear of success to see the subtle ways that it’s showing up in their life to really be able to just notice when you are getting in your own way where you are overcomplicating it and rather than just having to mentally like give yourself a pep talk about not being scared of success, you actually have a tool that helps you identify when that fear is coming up and also gives you what you need to then be able to do the self coaching required to overcome that fear of success and keep yourself moving forward.

I love having like, again, what I share in this episode, it’s all relevant today, it’s all really helpful, I wouldn’t be sharing that episode if that wasn’t the case. But I just want to offer that power planning that I have now developed through like 1000s of hours of studying different productivity experts and all these systems that people have and what works for me and what works for perfection as entrepreneurs like trying it through the clients that I’ve worked with over the years, like just really figuring out how to set yourself up for success.

And at the same time, overcome that fear of success that right now like that might be the biggest thing for you is that you are just scared that you’ll actually be able to accomplish the things you think and that just feels so uncertain and so unfamiliar that you’re holding yourself back. And I want you to have a tool that really helps with that. So in the planning series, the first pot is going to be coming out on the first of September. So very, very, very soon the next episode after this, so mark your calendar that will be an episode every other day. And it’s really going to share with you in that series, how to plan properly as a perfectionist.

At the end of that series, you’re going to know enough about power planning to be able to get started with power planning regardless of whether you decide to join us in perfectionist getting shit done or not. This series is to celebrate that our enrollment week for our October cohort of PGSD, our final cohort for the is going to be happening the week after the Planning series comes out. So in that planning series, I’ll be telling you more about PGSD. How to know whether or not it’s for you how to know which cohort to sign up for since we do a quarterly cohort.

So I’ll be sharing all that in this series. But I just wanted to mention that because that series is going to share the practical things that you can do to actually walk into your week the mindset work that’s needed the self coaching that’s needed have the awareness that’s needed to be able to overcome the fear of success. And I do want to mention just quickly to follow on from last week’s episode about me feeling overwhelmed and getting in my own way and like literally this is kind of like all the fear of success of but I’ve given an update on that because I recorded that episode, if you haven’t listened to it, I do recommend that because I shared like, here I am in the thick of feeling like overwhelm and pressure and finding myself getting in my own way and here’s what I’m doing about it.

And so just to follow on from that, I was in that episode talking about scripting episodes, and kind of wondering why we scripting them and not just trusting myself to say what I know to say. And ultimately, just being in my flow, like, I just wasn’t allowing myself to be in flow, because it feels too scary to just like, have easy success. And so I was wanting to complicate it. And so anyway, just to give you an update, and I will be doing a full launch debrief episode, I’ve already recorded something for that. But it won’t be coming out until after the launch, because I love sharing with you all the launch numbers and like all the behind the scenes stuff for each launch.

So more to come on that. But I called Renae, and we had a chat that I really, it was so helpful to just be able to talk things through with her. And there were a few kind of evolutions of the decision of what to do in terms of the Planning series. But ultimately, I have recorded five new episodes that are going to be released on the first of September. And these episodes when I recorded them. I just wrote some notes. Like I trusted myself, and I want you to be thinking about where do I need to trust myself more in my business.

So I just let myself frosts myself, and just in my normal way, wrote my notes recorded the first three episodes. And then I was like, okay, like, I just was in this feeling of like, they’re not good enough. Like, it’s so funny as well, because the episodes that people love the most. That’s how I feel about them. And the ones where I feel like they don’t actually resonate as much, I often feel really good about them because I feel more articulate or clear or whatever. So anyway, I call Renae and I was like, Okay, I’ve done the first three years, and the brain is just telling me to rerecord them.

And it’s so funny because I listened to them a few days later. And I was like, no, they’re so helpful. They’re so good. And also I knew if I we recorded them, I just basically say the same thing again, because the crux of it, like everything was there. And it’s just me being in my own head about it. And this fear of success. So we’re going to talk about in this episode, like that really is what’s going on. So I did those three episodes. And then we figured out okay, like now we need to change the due dates, because I have done the three episodes, but there are five to record, and then could work on one of my days off.

But really, I want to be sticking to my clean rest. And figuring out my work around that versus eating into clean rest. It’s not to say that I’m not going to work at times when I had planned to rest. But it’s just a little alarm bell to me when I am working on a day off, or it might clean rest. Like, why is that? And how can I be more resourceful, or more resilient or more brave so that I don’t need to work on my time off. And so we just adjusted the due dates. And yesterday morning, I recorded the last two episodes for this series.

And yeah, they’re going to be really helpful. I just know that if you enjoy listening to this podcast, if you’re late to a talk about you are going to love learning about power planning, you’re going to have the steps there to help you do that. You’re going to learn how to plan amidst uncertainty as well. Because that’s a big thing for us perfectionist, we want to do it right, we want to do it perfectly. And you probably have things going on your life, maybe you have a health issue, maybe you have kids, maybe you have a job, like you have all these reasons that it feels hard to plan out things, and to do something that isn’t working from this long to do list.

Or maybe you have the beautiful paper plan on all your time blocking and it just feels like no like I don’t I need some flexibility, oh, you’re probably one way or the other like it, you need flexibility because you’re not sure how long things take. So you find yourself just working from that endless to do lists. Or you really want to have that sense of control. And maybe you go back and forth between the two I used to do that, that I then go to time blocking and like there was no time for lunch or commuting or anything like that. I was just being so strict with myself because I wasn’t trusting myself.

Okay, I felt like I had to really have this tight control. On my time. I couldn’t really have flexibility there because I couldn’t trust myself to use that flexibility wisely. And but like if there’s too much spaciousness and too much flexibility, that I’m just going to procrastinate or overthink things. And it’s so incredible now to be in a place where I’m still working on stuff that is for sure. And I share that on the podcast, but I’m able to plan in the calendar in a digital calendar and also provide myself with flexibility and spaciousness to think and dream and just like do things the way I want to do it without then having to buy into this fallacy that i that means I can’t work from a calendar, like I love having a productivity tool that’s a self coaching tool.

And that’s what power planning is. So I’m gonna be telling more about it in the planning series, you are invited to join us inside PGSD to master power planning to get the support and community and everything like that the coaching calls as well, they are so valuable. So I’ll tell you more about that in the planning series, which starts on the first of September. So mark your calendar. If you haven’t yet subscribed to this podcast, then hit subscribe right now. So you definitely get those episodes as they get released.

And the doors to PGSD are going to be opening on the 10th of September at 6am, New York Time for one week only. So mark your calendar as well for that date. Regardless of whether or not you have decided yet if you’re joining us mark that date so you don’t miss it because we won’t be enrolling again until December that’ll be for our January cohort. So mark your calendar, it’s going to be an incredible cohort I can already feel it and you can go to samlaurabrown.com/pgsd if you want to find out more about perfectionist getting shit done or if you want to join the waitlist so you can find out more about it there and you’ll be the first to know when the doors open. So I highly recommend doing that. But anyway, let us get on to the five signs that you’re scared of success. I hope you find this helpful. And without further ado, here is my past self.

Hi, and welcome to episode 58 of the perfectionism project. My name is Sam Laura Brown. And this is a podcast where I share personal growth and life advice for perfectionist. And today, I want to chat about fear of success and whether or not you might be scared of succeeding. And this episode was spurred on by an email I received, or part of an email that I received. It was from Katerina and she said this, I know that this will sound really odd, but I’m afraid of the success, not the failure. And I’m afraid of what the success will do to me and my relationships. I know that may seem like an odd feeling to have, but I just don’t want to be someone who gets consumed by the success, or consumed by the work and have it take over my life.

And when I read that, I thought, no, that does not sound weird, or odd at all, because it is something that I’ve definitely been working on. And I’ve definitely been facing for quite a long time now. So I thought, why not chat about it on the podcast, because it’s a really interesting topic as well. The whole fear of success and fear of failure think basically, so many of us are scared of succeeding and failing. Basically, we’re scared of being anywhere, but we are right now. But at the same time, we consciously want to be anywhere other than where we are right now.

So it’s a really sort of interesting and frustrating situation to find yourself in that I think most people can relate to. So I just wanted to chat about it, talk about my own experience with it, and a few of the different signs that you might be scared of success and different things that you can do, if you are, and I hope that this episode also just helps you feel like you know, if this is something that you’ve been struggling with, that it’s completely normal. And I don’t say that in the way of like, you know, it’s completely normal. So you should just deal with the fact that it’s there and not try and do anything about it.

But normal in the sense that there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling scared of success. And also that, you know, there are things that you can do, subconsciously, we will always kind of be like trying to hold ourselves in the same position that we are, so will be scared of failing and scared of succeeding. And it’s all relative all the time. So like the level of success you’re currently at right now, you might not see it as successful, because it’s what’s normal for you. But there’ll be someone who might have achieved less, who will see your level of success has been scary.

And then you’re looking at someone else and seeing that level of success is scary. And we’re basically like our brains are always wanting us to be in a familiar situation. Because there’s a certain level of certainty, the brain is really efficient, because it’s thinking, all the thoughts it always thinks, and therefore it’s you know, reserving calories for other things. And it’s not wasting energy. So we will always, I think be grappling with this fear of failure and fear of success. But I hope that doesn’t just how to new and it doesn’t mean you can’t grow a hell of a lot and achieve a lot with your life.

And this isn’t just about success in terms of monetary success. There are a lot of people are scared of that. It can be in relation to career, it can be in relation to relationships, it can be scared of being like successful, emotionally, like happy and feeling better than those around you. So I’m not just talking about money, or career or anything like that, it really applies to every different area. Or maybe you’re scared of being healthy, even though you’re consciously trying to work towards it, you’re scared of maybe alienating the people around you, or how that might impact the way you spend your time or the kinds of activities you can engage in all of that.

So I’m gonna get into it. But that’s what I’m basically going to be covering in this episode. So for my own personal experience, just to give a bit of context, I think that I didn’t particularly experience fear of success when I was at uni. And when I was working in the corporate world in accounting, I feel like I was very much more so in a fear of failure, rather than a fear of success. And perhaps that’s because being successful in the corporate world was much less vulnerable. Because I was doing what everyone else was doing. I was kind of like fitting into the mold.

So there wasn’t that same vulnerability that I experienced with blogging, my business and podcast episodes and all of that. And perhaps it was because in that situation with uni and with work, success was expected so I was scared of failing. Whereas I think now, the situation that I’m in success is more uncommon and unexpected. And so there’s a bit more uncertainty around it. Whereas, when I was at, you know, my corporate job, and when I was at uni, I could sort of really clearly see what success looks like. But I feel like there’s a lot more uncertainty around success in like being an entrepreneur, and with my business.

And so perhaps that’s why I feel like I experience a lot more fear of success around it. But yeah, I didn’t really experience it around formal studies or anything like that, that was really about fear of failure and fear of, you know, not looking as smart as I wanted to look. And I still definitely for sure, 100% have that in business. But then there’s also this, like, fear of succeeding. And I think it really kicked in, for me when I first started blogging, because that’s when I started doing something different to what everyone else was doing.

And until that point, I’d basically live my whole life, trying to make sure that I was fitting in with everyone else at all times. I was always like, hiding anything that I was interested in, that I didn’t think other people would be interested in, and pretending to be interested in things I wasn’t interested in and just like, trying to always assess like, Okay, what’s everyone else doing? And how can I fit in with that and be accepted and be loved?

So I think that when I started my blog, that was kind of the first time that I had, you know, put my foot out of that little box that I been in, and it freaked me out. And a lot of it as well was like, what if I tried to do this, and it doesn’t work, and I look like an idiot? And what if I try to do this, and it does work. And then I had all of these other kinds of fears. Like, I was scared of judgment for failing, but I was also scared of being judged if I was successful, because I had had negative thoughts about successful people, like not consciously, but just, that’s what everyone else is thinking.

So I think that I was scared that if I got successful, and people would be saying that kind of thing about me, or thinking that I was undeserving, and with all have those kinds of fear of judgment things, it’s because that’s what I was thinking to myself that if I was successful, I wasn’t going to be deserving. And all of that kind of thing. I was also and have recently, I’ll talk about this in a sec, but I’ve been scared of the effect that being successful would have on relationships, I’ve been scared of having a lot of attention on me, I’ve been scared that if I’m successful, I might not be able to handle it.

And this idea of like, the more that I have, then the more I have to lose, I’ve been scared of getting negative attention. Scared of the way that it might impact the way that I spend my time basically, like it kind of fits in with like, every aspect of my life, it’s really a lot about uncertainty. And that is what I spoke about in episode 56. So if you want to hear more about that as well, you can go and listen to that after you’re finished with this one. That was all about how to handle uncertainty. And within that the uncertainty that comes with growing as a person and being successful and reaching your goals.

It’s something that often isn’t talked about, because we all intellectually unconsciously want to achieve all these different things. But it then sounds kind of weird to think like that were really working against ourselves and consciously like not consciously, subconsciously stopping ourselves from achieving the very things that were like expending a lot of effort, and putting a lot of thought into achieving. But I think all of those fears that I said just before like being scared of judgment and the affected and having relationships and not wanting attention and not being able to handle that.

I think that all comes back to this fear of feeling disconnected from other people of being rejected and abandoned. Like we’re not really scared of success. We’re scared of what might follow the uncertainty, the way that that will impact our life, and all of that kind of thing. So I think there’s like I have this underlying belief, and you might be able to relate to it. It’s this if I’m moderately successful, but not too successful. I can fit in and no one will judge me and I feel like that’s just been an undercurrent for a while now that I can feel myself pulling myself back because I want to be successful but I don’t want to be too successful that it draws attention or to successful that man I could potentially lose it, or that people judge me or anything like that.

And I spoke about it. I think it was also in that episode on uncertainties that episode 56, that this is something that I’m really working on at the moment like this is kind of the primary thing that I have been focusing on in my own personal development for the last couple of weeks now, because I’m starting to push the upper limits of what I believe is possible for myself, which is like what I’ve consciously been working towards. And it’s just so interesting and annoying, that as I’m getting closer to achieving my goals, and being the kind of businesswoman that I want to be, and all of that kind of thing, I can feel myself, wanting to go back to playing a smaller game and just not having as big of an impact in not making as much money because that’s what feels safe.

And that’s what feels certain like, even though that was painful in a lot of ways to be putting so much effort into things and not getting results and all of that. It was certain, and I think we always have this pull towards certainty. So yeah, it’s just something that I have really been having to work on myself. And for me, I think that it’s like, it’s hard to pinpoint when it’s, it’s a subconscious thing. But I think that the biggest things at the moment, for me have been the fear of like the impact that it will have on my friendships, but with my relationships, but particularly friendships, with my friends that don’t have businesses and with my friends who are struggling with their businesses that, like if I’m successful, then I won’t be able to relate to them.

And they won’t be able to relate to me and like we’ll go from having the same kind of problems, to then having different problems. And I’m not concerned with it on an intellectual level, I get it 100%. But subconsciously, I can tell that I am scared that if I continue to work towards my goals, that that might have an impact on my relationships. And I’m also concerned that I’ll be less relatable to you. And it’s such an interesting one, because a big part of what I do is like doing my own personal development work. So I can be an example. And so I can, you know, tell you what’s working for me and what isn’t, and sort of share that through my own lens. And this idea that that I’m wanting to like not be successful, so that I can still be in this sudden phase of struggling.

And it’s not to say that I’m not going to have equally as many struggles if I am more successful. And in this sense, when I’m talking about success, I’m talking about making more money, having more readers, subscribers, followers, like having more of an impact and having more of an audience having freedom over my time in a way that I don’t have at the moment, I do have a lot of freedom over my time, but I’m still working in a part time job. And I’m not able to potentially hire as many people as I could and all of that, like there are still certain things that I need to do myself.

So that’s what I’m referring to when I’m talking about being successful. I don’t think I’m scared of being successful in relationship. I don’t know, I haven’t even thought about that. Maybe I am. But when I’m talking about it in this sense, for me, and my personal experience, the kind of things that I’m talking about. And so I’ve really been yeah, having this fear, I think for a while, like maybe a couple of years, that if I am actually successful, and I do achieve the goals I’m talking about, that I will somehow be less relatable. And I think it’s because as well, I’ve seen a lot of people who have become successful online.

And all of the comments that they get, you know, you’ve changed and you should be like how you used to be and I can’t relate to your lifestyle and all of that kind of thing. But then, like intellectually, like they I know that they’ve grown as a person and that they’re like a more fully expressed version of themselves and all of that but it’s just like challenging subconsciously, I think when you see that they’re receiving this criticism for changing and for actually succeeding.

So that’s something that’s there that I know consciously isn’t really a thing and And I’ve just like really been consciously reminding myself that the people who love me and want to be in my life would want me to be successful. And like the fully expressed version of myself, not the me. That’s plain small. Just to try not like outshine anyone and outshining people is something that was talked about in The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, I just finished listening to the audio book. And I spoke about that more in Episode 56 as well.

But in that he was saying that one of the fears that people have is this fear of outshining other people. And I think that that’s definitely something that I can relate to. And that probably sounds like I think I’m so good. But I mean, it in the sense of like, not wanting, it’s kind of like, I don’t know, I’m sure you can probably relate to this, like, not wanting to outshine other people, but I think it’s, it’s more so like, wanting to be able to connect with other people over the same kinds of struggles and this like fear of having a tension in case then you get judged, and all that kind of thing.

So I’ve really had to just be like reminding myself like, the people who love me, and I want myself to be like the full version of myself, not the person that’s just plain small to try and please everyone else when no one else is really pleased, or at least no one that I really care about is pleased that I am just playing a small game and keeping my life limited for that apparent benefit. I also have been reminding myself that even though it may be less relatable for some, if I do achieve the goals that I talk about achieving, it’s more helpful for so many people, if I’m being an example of what’s possible, and I’m inspiring people to actually go after whatever it is they want, instead of being an example of like, you know, you should be successful but not too successful in case anyone judges you like I do really want to be an example of what is possible.

And an example of doing the work. And this is just part of doing the work. And I may outgrow some relationships. And some people may outgrow me, and that’s just part of life. And I think that, that happens whether we stay the same or whether we evolve, like that’s constantly changing. I know in my own life, like leaving school and leaving certain jobs. And like, there’s always this sort of, in and out of, you know, there are a few core people in your life, and then others will come and go.

And just knowing that if I did outgrow some relationships, I would also have new relationships coming into my life. And that would be with people who are comfortable with me being that version of myself that’s having a bigger impact. So yeah, as I was saying, definitely check out episode 56. But I just wanted to go through five signs. These are just signs that I’ve made up, but I think they are all relevant. Five Signs that you’re scared of success, you probably might have an inkling as to whether or not that’s the case for you. But just have a thing because I go through these things about whether or not you can relate to any of them.

So the first one is, you know what you need to do, but you’re not doing it. And yes, that’s basically the definition of procrastination as well. And I think that fear of success. And with that fear of, you know, change, uncertainty, rejection, abandonment of kids all kind of wrapped into one. That is a big reason that a lot of us put off things that we know we need to do. And like, maybe you’ve been thinking of starting a blog. I had someone email me the other day. And she was basically telling me all of her fears about starting a blog.

And then at the end, she was like, Well, I guess I should just start it. But so many of us have this thing we want to do. And we basically know all of the information. Like there’s not really any information gap. And we know that we’re resourceful enough to find the information. But we’re just scared to actually get going. And I’ve had a lot of people actually with my courses or not a lot of people, but I’ve had a few people email me and say like that they’ve bought one of my courses. And they have struggled to get started.

Because it’s it’s like they’re scared of the success. They’re scared of getting out of their own way, and what that could mean for their life and their scared to be the next version of themselves, and they’re scared of, you know what that could mean for relationships for how they spend their time. That might mean you know, if they get out of their own way, they’re going to have to be a heck of a lot more uncomfortable, which is 100%. true. I wish I could tell you otherwise. But if you get out of your own way that you are opening yourself up to a lot of discomfort. That’s the reason we get in our own way. So we can be nice and comfy in our little safe bubble.

So if you know what you need to do, just have a quick thinking now, is there something that you’ve been like, I should do that thing, but you’re not doing it, it could be that you’re scared of success, it could also be that you’re scared of failure, or, you know, fear of judgment or anything like that. But it could be that you are so scared that if you do that thing, you will succeed. And then something something and something. And this comes up in all sorts of ways. Like one of the ways that I’ve seen that super interesting is, like, you might know that your life will probably look better if you wake up early, but you’re not doing it.

Because you’re scared, you’ll be successful at waking up early, but your life won’t be any better. And then you’ll be left in this like helpless situation of not knowing what to do to improve your life because you tried something and it didn’t have the impact. So there’s all sorts of interesting ways that this can play out. But Just have a think are you do you know what you need to do. But you’re not doing it. And is it possible that that could be because you’re scared, it will actually like you’ll actually be able to do it. And then there’ll be some consequence of that, or some uncertainty around that.

The second thing is that you scatter your attention so that none of your projects can really succeed. And a lot of perfectionist have a full plate, it’s something that I definitely have a tendency to do. And I really have to call myself out on it. But particularly at uni, that this really showed up. And as I think all of these can be fear of failure as well. But basically, this is just a way that we sort of dissolve vulnerability is that we try to do so many projects at once, that we have this excuse for any kind of failure.

So if project A fails, we can say, oh, it’s because I was too busy on Project B, Project B fails is because you’re too busy on Project C. And so you can always have this excuse. And it feels really good. Because you feel like you’re busy, you’re productive. And so perfectionist, that’s something that we can often have our self worth really wrapped around. So you get to feel productive, you get to feel busy, you get to have everyone else in your life being like, Oh my God, how do you do so many things. But yet, it’s basically a way that you’re self sabotaging.

Because if you have 20 things on your plate, it’s unlikely that you’ll succeed at any of them. But you can blame it on having a full plate if you don’t succeed. So that is one way or like one sign that you’re scared of success that you never actually let yourself get there. And the way that you’re doing that is by spreading yourself so thin, that it’s not really even possible in the first place. Because we all know intellectually, to get a result in something you need to have momentum and you need to put a certain amount of time and energy.

And that if you have say 100% of time and energy and effort, if you put that into just one thing that will go so much more quickly than if you’re putting 10% into 10 projects. No matter how good you are at time management, and mindset managing management, it’s still really challenging to move 10 projects forward at 100% if you’ve only got 100% to give. So that’s number two.

Number three is that things start going wrong after you experience some success like an accident and illness this is actually like so this was spoken about in The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks that when we start to push that upper limit so the books are all about the upper limit problem and this idea that there’s only a certain amount of success and abundance and love that we can handle. We all have a different level that we can tolerate and that we allow ourselves to tolerate. And once it starts getting too high, we subconsciously do something to bring it back within the comfort level.

And so as I was saying, I’ve been going through this at the moment, and last week, I ran my car into Chris’s car that we have here at the house. And I just, it was 6am. And I just pulled out and I wasn’t like, I’ve done that so many times and never had any issue. And I just like, I don’t know. And it is that thing of like, well, you know, would that have happened anyway, and I’m just making it mean something. But I was like, that’s very interesting, because then I had to have a whole day off from my business stuff, so that I could get my car fixed.

So it’s just like this sneaky kind of an I don’t know, because if that happened, for that reason, it was pretty damn subconscious. Because I was not aware of it at all. But in the book he talks about, and I think, like he said in the book, that it might sound a bit weird to say that, and especially like that, you might have an illness or something because you start getting more successful, or what he was saying a lot of people do is they pick a fight with someone, and they try and like create dissatisfaction in another area of their life to try and like, you know, they might receive an award and they go home and like have a fight with their partner or something.

So he said, It might sound weird, but that it can be helpful. If that’s happening to think of it as being an upper limit problem, even though maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but to think of it in that way, and then it just bring some more self awareness and helps you get out of it. So I don’t know if I’ve explained that bit very well. And it’s something I’m still trying to, like, get my mind around like that, that accident could be that, you know, then I had a day off. And that meant I could slow my momentum down. And I could like balance out success with having a day off and whatever.

As I was saying, this is stuff I’m still working through myself, and I’m still in the middle of. But I have read that book in the past and found it super helpful. And I am always such a huge believer in like, the placebo effect, which is, I think, basically the law of attraction. But basically, if there’s a belief that helps you believe it, if it doesn’t help you don’t believe it like, and a lot of people would say that’s delusional, and denial and all of that, but I just think you know, whatever works, it doesn’t really matter.

If it’s just your brain that’s making it work, that’s fine, as long as it’s working. So that’s another thing like, was there a time in your life where you achieved a goal or got a promotion or won an award or something happened, maybe you got asked out on a date by someone you wanted to go out with or whatever? Did you then counteract that in some other way? Just interesting to think about anything.

Number four, is you stop yourself from dreaming or deciding what you want in life. I think this is such a huge one. And it’s so sneaky, because being confused about what to do with your life and what you want. Feels so genuine. Especially when you spend so much time watching videos about what to do with your life and thinking about what to do with it. It doesn’t feel like you’re stopping yourself. But if you find yourself constantly saying, I don’t know what I want to do, I can’t make a decision and just being in that like indecision, confusion kind of energy, it could be that you are stopping yourself from figuring it out.

Because you’re scared that if you figure it out, your life will change. Or someone will disapprove of you. Or it’ll change the way that you spend your time or it’ll change your relationships, or it’ll change something else. So that is a really, really interesting one to think about. I think I definitely did that. Like when I first started thinking about blogging, that I was like telling myself I don’t really know what I want to do. And like if anyone ever asked me about it, I’d be like, I’d be basically saying that I was still thinking of working in the corporate world when I kind of knew I wasn’t because I was just scared of like, even admitting to myself that I wanted it. And I think it was a mixture of fear, fear of failure and fear of success, basically fear of being in any situation, other than the situation that I was in. So yeah, just have a little thing about that one. Have you been stopping yourself from dreaming or deciding what it is that you want with your life?

Number Five. The fifth sign that you’re scared of success is that you say negative things about successful people. And this might seem like a bit of a different one to the others. But the reason that this is a sign is because if you are saying negative things about successful people, maybe you’re saying like, you know, making negative comments about people getting more opportunities or getting opportunities easily, or you’re saying about people having more money, or it’d be so easy if I was, and like diminishing them, and saying that it’s somehow easier for them than it is for you.

Maybe you complain about, you know, rich people and the impact that they’re having on the world. Whatever it is, if you were saying negative things, and if you are also in this perfectionist mindset, then it is very likely that you’re scared that if you’re successful, people will say those things about you. And so you stop yourself from being successful, because you don’t want people to judge you in the way that you’re judging people who would be like you.

So that’s something that I tried to be very conscious of. And I can feel myself still like, sometimes when I hear about someone else being successful, like instantly, like wanting to diminish it, and I really have to catch myself and I and I just make sure I definitely out loud, say like, good for them. And that kind of thing. Like, like, I’m so glad that they did that. Because it’s you know, an example of what I could do. And all that kind of thing instead of complaining about it, or diminishing them or trying to take something away.

Because I know that if I am saying and thinking negative things about people who have what I want, then I am going to subconsciously stop myself from getting it. And the same goes with if you have people around you who are saying those things, then you might be holding yourself from success, because you’re scared that they will say those things about you. And as I was saying earlier with fear of judgment. The only time that really impacts us is when we’re already basically thinking those things about ourselves.

And you know, if we’re saying that we think a certain and certain successful person is undeserving, it’s probably because at some level we feel undeserving, or that we would be undeserving if we were in that situation, and people who feel good about themselves don’t need to diminish other people’s achievements. And they don’t make it mean anything. And they don’t make other people’s comments mean anything. Because they have such a strong opinion of themselves and a high opinion of themselves, that it’s enough to deflect that.

Whereas if you are already thinking negatively of yourself, then if someone says something negative, you’re like, oh my god, it’s true. Whatever you were thinking, so just have a think I use saying negative things about successful people, it could be really subtle. But just you know, this coming week, have a think notice yourself, are you saying things about or maybe you really want to be in relationship. And whenever you see a couple you’re like, Oh, look at them, when that’s what you really want. And yet you are diminishing it because of whatever insecurities that you have. But just, you know, pay attention to whether you’re saying that kind of thing.

So there are five signs that you might be scared of success. Again, these could also a lot of them relate to being scared of failure. But I think that it really depends like how you’re doing it as to whether you’re scared of failure or success, or most likely both. But it’s something that’s really interesting to think about. And I think we will always be scared of change and success usually equals change.

And even though we consciously want to improve our lives, so often we’re scared that we’ll improve it and just have a think like, you know, have you been listening to my podcast, and hearing me talk about all these exercises you can do and hearing me talk about my courses and you haven’t done anything. And is it because you’re scared of getting out of your own way and you’re scared of actually improving your life. Because maybe then you won’t be as relatable to those around you who are still struggling or who don’t get personal development and aren’t into it.

Or maybe it’s because you’re scared you outgrow your friendships if you actually improve your life. And you know, if you’re eating healthy, then you won’t be able to like have the same relationship with friends that you’re always eating junk food with or maybe you know, there are so many different things, but it’s something interesting to think about. Have you been listening to me talk about all these things, but you haven’t taken action. And is that because you’re actually scared shitless to change your life, even though you consciously want it.

So if you’re scared of success, a few things that you can do. I talk about this basically every podcast episode, I feel like and I’m not referring to Brooke Castillo from The Life Coach School, but I do mention her a lot. I’m talking about Tim Ferriss fear setting exercise. If you’ve heard me talk about it, you haven’t done it. Today’s the day. Make sure you do it. I know you’re probably driving or walking your pooch or whatever it is. But make the time to do this exercise because the exercise I’ll link it in the show notes at samlaurabrown.com/episode58.

I’m still getting used to saying Sam Laura Brown I just had to stop for a second and think, did I say Samantha Laura Brown, because that’s my actual full name. Anyway. So it’ll be at samlaurabrown.com/episode58, it has all the journaling prompts, it’ll take you, I don’t know, 20 to 30 minutes. The reason it works so well is because you have to define your fears and actually make them specific. And so often, when we get clear about what we’re scared of, we realize it’s super stupid.

But you might think I already know what I’m scared of you probably don’t. This exercise is so powerful is why I talk about it all the time. Because so often, we’re just scared of what other people think. But once you dig a few levels deep, you’re like, wow, I didn’t even realize that was a real fear. And that real fear doesn’t actually really scare me. But we just keep our fears vague. So we have an excuse not to move forward. So make sure you do that exercise. I’m going to keep recommending it. And eventually we’ll do it. But I hope it’s today.

Number two is to surround yourself with successful people. So whatever area you’re trying to be successful in, so that you normalize your goals, because we will always be trying to do whatever is normal for us. And I was always saying like someone might be scared of having the level of success that you’re currently having. But for you, it’s completely normal. And so you don’t have all of these issues about being where you are, because you’re like, well, this is just, you know, 100% normal for me. So you can do things to normalize your goals. I did a whole episode on that. So I won’t go into it. Episode 50, if you want to scroll back a little, and listen to that one.

And number three, and this is basically what I’ve been doing is to just pay attention to yourself. And notice what you’re doing without judgment. But just like I’ve really been trying to call myself out and forcing myself to be uncomfortable. Basically, like what I’ve been doing is trying to give myself the advice I would give to a friend. And then following that advice, because I mean, we can all give great advice to other people. It’s the following. That’s the hard bit.

So I like to like put myself into someone else’s shoes or like, if I was my own coach, what would I say to me? And then I sat back into my shoes and be like, Okay, now I’m just going to follow it without questioning that advice. Because so often when we try to give ourselves advice were already have mixed into that our fears, our limiting beliefs, and we won’t give ourselves the same advice that we give to a friend. And that is because we’ll so often there are things that we’re not even aware of, like limiting subconscious beliefs and that kind of thing.

So that’s why I like to think of okay, what would I tell someone else in my situation, which would be just keep fucking going for it and don’t let yourself slow down. And then I come back over here and I think cages keep fucking going forward and don’t slow down and then just paying attention to myself. When I try to put my foot on the brake super sneaky ways to you know, get out of whatever it is that I plan and just having that self awareness is a huge part of it.

Okay, so it is present day Sam again, I hope you enjoyed hearing about that. As I mentioned, the most practical thing to do about the fear of success is to get yourself a productivity tool that helps you move through it as well as a self coaching tool that helps you see when it’s going on, so you can do something about it and that is power planning and in the planning series, starting on the first of September, I’m going to be teaching you how to power plan ie how to plan properly as a perfectionist. At the end of that series, you’re going to know enough to be able to start power planning. So mark your calendar, and I will talk to you in the next episode.

Author: Sam Brown