To Whom it May Concern,
I’ve been thinking a little bit lately about what holds people back from going after their dreams. Well not necessarily going after them, but accomplishing them. I think people are really good at putting plans into action to go after what they want, they just have a hard time seeing those plans through to the end. They’re either just plain lazy or they’re afraid of what will happen if they actually succeed. I think it’s the second part.
Why do we fear success?
At first, the thought didn’t make any sense to me. It makes sense to fear rejection. It sucks when you get your hopes up asking someone out or applying for a job just to be told that what you bring to the table just isn’t what they’re looking for. It makes sense to fear failure. It’s hard to put your heart into something and give it your all to find out that it either wasn’t enough or you couldn’t get enough people to believe in you. But it didn’t make any sense to me that somebody could be afraid to accomplish their goals. The more I thought about it, though, the more I came up with reasons why people and even why I might be afraid of success.
When you fail you can just go back to doing what you were doing
At least when you fail, you can go back to familiar territory and just pick up where you left off. Usually, you’re no worse off than when you started so it’s not that bad. Trust me. I’ve failed a lot. The last time I really failed was a few months ago when I ran for state representative. I feel like I ran a good campaign but I ultimately lost the election. I wasn’t tossed in jail or assassinated for having the audacity to run. Nobody even really cared that I lost. My friends and family thought it was cool that I ran and then everything went back to normal. At least I tried.
“Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington
I didn’t go in with a losing mindset, but others in my shoes might have gotten cold feet towards the end. What if I win? Am I ready to represent my district in Austin? Do I have what it takes? They might have gotten complacent and thought I’ll probably lose anyway. Then when they did lose, they could say that at least they tried.
You equate more humility with less success
Do you remember that one time Nastia Liukin went out to qualify for the 2012 Olympics and didn’t make it because she fell? I think about that a lot. The way she stuck her foot up at the end was pretty funny but it also showed her owning her failure. Yeah it sucked that she wouldn’t be able to represent the USA across the pond, but she knew she was better than her failure. She was one of the greatest gymnasts in the world at the time but she didn’t lash out after she failed. She didn’t go on TMZ and rant or bust another girl’s kneecaps. She remained humble.
A lot of people think you can only show humility in defeat and that success leads to pride. You don’t have to go overboard with it but you should feel proud when you succeed. You’ve accomplished a goal of yours. Why shouldn’t you be happy about that? You don’t have to lose yourself in it. You don’t have to rub your accomplishments in anyone’s face. But you can be content with the fact that you had a goal, you went after it, and you succeeded. There’s nothing wrong with that. When I was in 4th grade, I won an area-wide writing contest. I didn’t rub my $25 check in any of the other kids’ faces. I just got my picture taken for the local newspaper and got my essay framed by my mom.
You have to get out of your comfort zone
In order to succeed, you have to take risks. That’s the bottom line. A lot of people can’t handle that. They’re afraid of change and they’re afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone but they love to dream. If they can’t take risks, they risk their dreams just being dreams. It’s a lot easier to get out of your comfort zone than people think. Just do the thing and put yourself in a situation where you can’t back out. Wanna try out a new hairstyle or shirt or something? Change it up right before work or right before you go out. Then you can’t go into hiding when your anxiety becomes unbearable. The best advice I can give is from We’re the Millers. Just count to three and do whatever uncomfortable task is standing between you and success. You’ll never know how that girl feels if you don’t send her that risky text. You’ll never get that job if you don’t send in that application. You’ll never start your own business if you don’t quite your job. You just gotta go for it.
Maintaining success is harder than succeeding
Everyone wants that moment in the spotlight, that Rocky moment where they can throw their fists in the air and shout I did it! But then they want everything to go back to normal and that’s just not going to happen. Depending on what level of success you achieve, it’s going to take a lot of work and effort to maintain that. Rocky didn’t go the distance with Apollo Creed and then go back to his quiet life with Butkus in his little apartment. Heck no. Even though he wanted to retire after every matchup, he went on to fight in five more movie-worthy fights and train Apollo’s son. Maintaining success takes hard work and dedication. You’ve gotta have that fire in you. Some people just have embers in them that are easily snuffed out.
You’re in love with the chase
For some people, they don’t care one way or the other about succeeding because it’s all about the chase for them. They’re more worried about the ride than the destination. It makes sense. When you’re going after a goal, you get a rush. You heart is pumping and your brain is racing trying to figure out how to achieve your goal. Maybe you get your friends and family to rally around you. You feel good. You have a sense of purpose. Ut when you achieve your goal, everything sort of dies down. You have that now what? moment. So then you set another goal for yourself to get that high again. That’s why, for some people, the chase is more important than the actual goal. They just want that sense of purpose and that feeling that they’re progressing and not staying stagnant.
It happens to all of us
I’ve gone through just about all of the scenarios listed above at one point or another. It happens to everyone. The important thing is that we recognize that fear in us and those things that are causing us to be complacent or not do our best to reach our goals. Then, once we recognize them, eliminate them. Most of the time, we’re the only ones standing our way.