Last week, a friend of mine commented on my post with these words, “The fear of success may be more difficult to contemplate than the fear of failure.” This thought resonated with me all week: what exactly is the fear of success? Am I afraid of being successful? I’ve wrestled with the fear of failure concept, as many have. “I’m afraid I’ll fail, so I’m not even going to try,” may be the unconscious reasoning behind many of our failed attempts at success but if we deeply engage and look at our situations and goals more closely, we might find the secret to our becoming successful.
Becoming successful takes hard work. Success for most does not come easily. When work is put forth to produce a desired outcome, change has to occur. This change will inevitably cause both positive and negative consequences to bubble to the surface. To be successful, one should focus on the positive, but also consider the negative effects of change. What might happen if we were actually successful? Don’t answer this question with “I hope…” Instead, consider what realistically might likely happen if you were to actually achieve a goal you set. If you succeeded what else would have to change?
For many years I was not successful in loosing a desired 20 pounds, even though I said I wanted to. I thought I was a failure in this area and that I could not succeed and I found many ways to justify this. I didn’t try because I knew I couldn’t succeed. But in the depths of my mind, if I were honest with myself, was the notion that if I lost 20 pounds then I’d have to spend time learning about how to shop for, and prepare food. I hated to spend time grocery shopping and especially cooking! Additionally, with a weight loss, I’d also have to buy new clothes and I couldn’t afford them. Realistically, it wasn’t that I feared I couldn’t loose the weight – -I was afraid of being successful! I didn’t want to invest the time or money necessary in learning how to eat more nutritiously. I also didn’t want to spend money on a new wardrobe. After confronting the possible negative effects of change, you may realize that you don’t really want to achieve the goal after all. The negatives outweigh the positives, which is what happened to me.
It’s when the positives outcomes outweigh the negative ones that change will occur and we will overcome the fear of success. To continue with my personal example of weight loss, I’ll tell you that I became interested in food only after my doctor told me I needed to have a hospital procedure done to help correct a calcium problem I have. WHAT? Hospital? No way. I became interested in a more holistic approach and started watching films like Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives. I began spending hours at Whole Foods every Saturday to learn about organic food and how to select non-GMO food. I started experimenting in the kitchen with vegetarian dishes. I subscribed to my friend’s vegan blog and I hired a personal nutritionist to educate myself about adding calcium to my diet. I was mesmerized by what I was learning about the food industry and my rationale began to change: I wanted to learn more about organic food to keep my body healthy so I could travel and live overseas! Ultimately, at this point in my life, travel is the positive outcome that will trump everything else. I wanted to be successful in this new way of eating for this reason. In changing the way I ate, my health improved, I lost weight and I was excited to buy some new clothes (for my next trip) and see my body take a new form.
Be honest with yourself. What will happen if you succeed? What are the positive outcomes surrounding that goal? Concentrate on those and begin to move forward. You CAN succeed!
Oh, and by the way, I’ve been posting several articles on free travel opportunities for teachers called Teachers Have All The Luck, Part 1 and Part 2. Today I was notified that the Transatlantic Outreach Program has just posted it’s 2013 application online here. Please read Part 1 for more information.