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So, I finally got hold of the money I needed to pay for that much-loved course which could open doors for my dream career.
This money meant months of hard work and savings for me.
Peace and gratitude was my first feelings. But they disappeared soon. What remained behind was a tight knot in my stomach that only tightened even more when I imagined happy results of the exams.
Those overdoses from adrenaline make me question myself, ‘are the intended results as happy as I imagine them to be?’
‘Can I really shine this much?’
‘Do I really deserve it?’
It was not until I started using the cash for other purposes did I question why I was running away from, definite, success.
I mean, I had a pattern of gaining enough resources to pursue my studies only to run out of cash at the last moment or I made excessive commitments of time.
Was it fear of success?
I thought to myself: I never suffer from Achievemephobia?
So, it’s not a concern for me.
But hey! My preferred mode of procrastination revolves around daydreaming about the outcomes of my efforts.
And I dream so much that my goals take the guise of dreams. They no longer remain in my reach.
What is the worst part? I thought that I am just procrastinating and keep seeking remedies for this illness. And forgot the real illness, Achievemephobia, underneath all the laziness.
Here are a few ways I identified, and you too can identify, that the fear of success as the real culprit behind those of my goals which were running away from me.
I Knew that Success Attracts Hardships
But it’s a truth. Success does beget hardship. So do failure and lagging behind.
And when only those stressors, which are associated with success, remained my prioritized focus then I was irrationally exaggerating them.
Result? I wanted to avoid these stressors and the factor which brings upon them.
For Me of Success Equaled Limelight
For most people the biggest fear that is associated with success in not that of stress and extra responsibility it brings. Rather they want to stay away from the limelight which comes with it.
This symptom, which is especially true from introverts and for those extroverts who feel uncomfortable when they become the center of attention, is often combined with traumatic events related to past success.
Such traumas don’t need to be arising out of catastrophic events but rather from smaller incidents, such as a single negative remark from a loved one, can create aversion towards success.
For me, the trauma was waves of jealousy radiating out of some of my beloved relations. Just waves, no words or actions.
I Knew I am Worthy of Success
Sounds ironic? If you know you are worthy of a positive attribute then there should be nothing to be afraid of that positive attribute.
But remember that fear of success seldom initiates from self-worth. Sure, there is a particular type of Achievemephobia that stems from imposter syndrome but that’s just one of its faces.
In most other faces of this fear, the sufferer associates the fear, not with them, but with the circumstances that may arise because of it.
They overestimate the difficulties they will face because of the manifestation of their goals. And they know that the probability of these difficulties is heightened. Why? Only because they are worthy of success.
In fact, their self-efficacy becomes their biggest tool against their progress.
I Never Had Enough Time or Resources
This symptom should be a common theme among those who suffer from this phobia and those who don’t.
But the only difference among the two groups is that this lack of abundance is just a perception for the former group who try to shift the blame of their inaction on external resources.
If you are suffering from this phobia, years-long vacations and millions of dollars in your bank account will seem insufficient for you to start pursuing your goal.
I was Content
In fact, I was not.
I, like any other human, crave growth.
But then, when my internal motivation or external circumstances pushed me towards my goals I deceived myself into thinking that I am content with my current circumstance.
When you face this fear, you lie to yourself that you love your current job, career, and lifestyle. So, there is no need to push ahead.
So this was my diagnosis. But where was the cure?
The good news (to me) is that I discovered a cure in my own strengths! Those same strengths which were previously working as symptoms of this fear.
Or more precisely, use your inner gift of grit.
This phobia comes with a hidden belief in one’s abilities. And the belief, most often, comes from the hard work we tend to put in our life.
The only drawback is that because we fear success, our hard work is directed towards blocking it.
We find new ways, and tasks, to spend our time every day. We persevere at doing unimportant tasks.
By only adding a little pinch of focus on short-term goals we can push ourselves in the direction of our goals.
This focus on the immediate task will distract me from what lies in the ultimate outcome.
Add Resilience to the Mix
Isn’t resilience my specialty? I procrastinate, fail miserably. And then keep on procrastinating.
So, I will use my gift to keep going but in the opposite direction.
Now start moving in the right direction. Work on accepting your smaller failures without judgment and collect yourself back up to move on.
Be stubborn. Hit the wall. Fall. And pull yourself back again on your feet. And then keep going.
That’s the new mantra.
Think of Others
I will combat the fear of the limelight by reminding myself that my goal is not for me but it’s for the greater good of those surrounding me.
Fears intensify when one is concerned about oneself. I would shift the focus. Feel for others and show this concern. Keep moving, if not for myself then for others.
Put Your Imperfect Foot Forward
Ironically, people are more tolerant of imperfect actions and mistakes than they are of passion and growth which don’t match their ideals.
So, I would get comfortable with the limelight by attracting criticism. People will judge me, point out my mistakes and move on.
Behind them, I will remain the person who made mistakes and saw consequences. I won’t feel, ‘Oh! I perfected my feat for so long and they just rejected it’. Because I had never perfected it the first place.
In other words, don’t aim at perfecting your feat. Put it in front of the public and they will perfect it for you.
Fear of success is real. But my passion for my life goals is more real.
It’s me who is the boss in my decisions and I decide to fight it with certain tools that work well in most Achievemephobia cases.
And the end is not the goal. The goal is only to keep growing.
About the Author
Aruba Arif is a freelance blogger @ TheYesStories who is passionate about understanding people, writing, and connecting with herself. When she is not writing she is playing Mommy to her beloved son.