Many people are afraid of failure, but do you know anyone who is afraid of success? Today, let’s talk about this all too common problem. But first, ask yourself, “Am I afraid of success?” Even if your first instinct is, “No, of course not!” you might want to think about it.
Stories abound regarding people who walked away after an initial success, for a variety of reasons. Harper Lee, author of the American classic To Kill A Mockingbird, said, regarding Mockingbird, “I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways, this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.” From the book’s publication in 1960 until she passed away in 2016, Lee withdrew from public life, publishing very little.
There are many reasons why we might turn away from the challenges that could bring us success, but it is usually because we just don’t believe we have what it takes to pull it off. Our self-efficacy is low, so we avoid as much as possible, as often as possible. Where in your life has opportunity knocked, and you didn’t answer the door?
The good news is that self-efficacy can be improved. One way is to remember the successes you have had in the past, and vividly imagine yourself repeating similar successes in the new situation. Another is to set yourself up to succeed by taking on risks you are pretty sure you can handle, and then gradually – step by step – upping the ante.
It is important to surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you, while you control your self-talk and negative thinking. You don’t want to end up stopping yourself before you get started.
Begin today to live your life in the present, and not in the past, so you will have no regrets in the future.