When discussing fears that people have that may prevent them from pursuing their goals in life, fear of failure is a big one. The thought is: it’s safer to not try; that way you won’t risk the situation in which you try your best and still fall short, a painful experience, no doubt.
There are ways, of course, to work with a fear of failure to help a person be successful, but I think this fear makes sense. I was surprised to learn that many people also suffer from the fear of success, something that was at first unintuitive to me. Upon some reflection, I can now see how success could be devastating to some people.
Imagine that you know exactly what would make you happy. You work hard to achieve this goal, whether it’s more money or power or to be the next big pop music star. Only, when you reach the success you’ve dreamed of, you’re still not happy.
In this event, you’re now faced with the realization that you have no idea what is going to make you happy and this notion is terrifying and deeply painful.
To address fear of success, I’m here to tell you that happiness is not a destination at all. Nothing external to yourself is going to make you happy. It just doesn’t work that way.
If you barely have enough money to cover your bills, then yes, a bit more money will bring some happiness, but it is not a linear relationship. After you’ve achieved a certain level of comfort, more money is just more money, not more happiness.
For many people, the goal that they probably should be working on first is to become happy without changing external factors or pursuits, just to be happy with what is.
It’s a delicate balance, I think, for people to work hard, achieve greatness, chase their dreams like I discuss so often, and this idea that none of that stuff will be responsible for happiness in and of itself. There has to be something more, something human – not material – to ground the call for achievement in happiness.
As a person who helps others achieve their dreams, I don’t see what could be more meaningful. You really can live the life you’ve dreamed of; you can change careers, make more money, buy that first or next house, travel the world. And you can do all of this while feeling happy. This happiness won’t be a result of having achieved your dreams, but your happiness will help you in your quest for continued success.
Like I said, it’s a delicate balance that must be practiced on the path to greatness: continually growing and learning while just being happy with the present state. Sometimes we’re not in balance, so why not take a moment to self-assess?
Are you happy? Are your basic needs met? Are you working toward your dreams? Are you over-extending toward external pursuits? Are you connected to those around you?
In calm, quiet reflection, ask yourself questions like these and then just wait patiently for the answers to come and accept them as they are.
You can achieve happiness and make progress on your dreams simultaneously.