In today’s episode, we are going to be discussing a topic that people don’t really talk about much in this industry and that is the fear of success and how it can be detrimental to your end goals as a trader.
Take a moment to reflect on this question: “Do you fear your own success?”
You might be resistant to this idea at first because after all, why would you fear getting everything that you want? Sounds crazy, right?
But you might be surprised to find out that the fear of success is actually responsible for a lot of the self-sabotage that occurs in our pursuit of what we think we want.
Fear of success is easily confused with fear of failure as both can keep you from reaching your full potential; however, the main difference between the two is that the fear of failure has more to with beating yourself up for underperforming, whereas fear of success is more built in the anticipation of how others will react to your accomplishments.
It’s one of the hardest things to pin down so our goal today is to identify why it happens, how you can overcome it as a trader and how you can become more self-aware so that you can go about dealing with this effectively.
Why would you be fearful of achieving the things that you are working so hard for?
Definition: Fear of success usually doesn’t mean a literal fear of success. People fear the results and consequences of making lots of money, for example, not the money itself.
On a conscious level, you don’t actually fear achieving success but at the subconscious level, you might be holding on to a script or limiting belief that is at play which you have to face and challenge.
The subconscious mind works to prevent that which it fears:
- If you have an unresolved and unreasonable fear of success
- Your subconscious mind will continue making what your logical mind believes to be mistaken, but the subconscious always overpowers logic and wins. 0.004% vs 96.996%.
If you haven’t programmed your mind to succeed, then you have programmed it to fail, and it’s carrying out your orders without your conscious awareness! (Train tracks example).
So why do we fear success?
- Fear of success is something usually learned in the early years of our lives.
- It is linked to the beliefs and values that we pick up from parents and others and store at a subconscious level
- Our parents and friends coach us to avoid looking like losers, to do our best and to always be a winner.
- These appear as stories that we tell ourselves at a logical level but when you peel back the curtains there is a deeper underlying belief at play
- It is often linked to a low level of self-worth
The fear of success can show up in your logical thoughts in the form of the following thoughts:
- Success will ruin your relationships with friends and family
- People will think you are always showing off or bragging
- Success might not be all it’s cracked up to be
- You fear the added responsibility that success entails
- You fear the changes that success will bring into your life
- What if I become somebody that I don’t like
When you take a deeper look, these thoughts can be linked to values and beliefs that you picked up in your early childhood years:
- “Successful people are bad, evil, etc”
- “Successful and rich people are lucky, inherited”
- “You have to work hard to earn a mere living”
- “It’s lonely at the top”
- “I am not worthy of success”
These kinds of beliefs can really hurt you in the pursuit of your goals because despite your best intentions on a conscious level, at the subconscious level, you do not really want to become that bad or evil person or become socially isolated, so in order to maintain your current status quo, you will self-sabotage your results.
Now the reason that you self-sabotage is because your brain is a fan of certainty and changes represent the “unknown” and potential danger to you.
For example, if you believe that achieving the success that you want will bring about negative changes in your life then you will find a way to self-sabotage and become the only obstacle in the way of what you want and deserve.
What Does Fear of Success Look Like?
While fear of success can manifest in many different ways, here are the common red flag signs to look out for:
- You strive for perfectionism and when you fall short, it’s enough of a reason to not proceed forward. Have you been taught to always be a winner? Are you afraid of looking like a loser? Do you feel the need to win at all costs?
- You set goals that don’t really scare you! If you tend to be the type of person that sets a low bar for your goals, you fear challenging yourself and the circumstances of accomplishing them
- If you tend to procrastinate and stall just enough for good opportunities to pass
- Just when you are on the verge of success you find reasons to quit Do you fear change and the unknown?
Fear of success is both painful and embarrassing because it can cause mixed emotions such as guilt, anxiety, and pressure.
Fear of Success Examples in Trading:
- I really don’t want to make $5,000 USD a day, I’m fine with just $100. I just want to REPLACE my income. Why not increase it?
- I’ll leave my job to trade full time when I’ve made $250,000 and am out-earning my current income.
- I’ve got self-doubt that I won’t be able to make it.
- This is too good to be true, what if I am unable to make this last
What happens when you finally do get money or get consistent profitability? You have not found what the next step is and you consider throwing in the towel.
Any moment that you start to find success, you find a way to mess up, sabotage, and give it all back.
Where do these insecurities come from? A lack of self-worth.
If you don’t feel worthy of success then we fear it and when we fear it we find ways to mess it up (self-sabotage)
How Can One Overcome a Fear of Success?
- Have goals that are lifestyle based, not money goals
- Reflect on your own past experiences with success and figure out what happened as a result
- Are there any stories and beliefs that you adopted in your early childhood years that you’ve held on to?
- Make a list of all the ways that you are sabotaging yourself to put it into focus. Once you can identify these behaviors you can put together a plan to counteract them.
- Grab a pen and paper and write down the answers to the following questions: Get as clear on your “why” as possible.
- “What do I want to do with my life?”
- “Why do I want to be a trader?”
- “What kind of experiences do I want to have?”
- “What kind of people do I want to surround myself with?”
- Use visualization to imagine your ideal lifestyle. Achieving a goal you have set, what might happen as a result of achieving that accomplishment, and different ways that you can go about dealing with it.
- Find a community of like-minded positive people with high self-esteem that you can absorb so that you reframe your mindset. We’ve got a great community but it doesn’t have to be with us!
- In addition to the above tips, you may also find that making lifestyle changes can help with managing the stress and anxiety brought about by the fear of success. Some of the steps you can take include eating well, taking time to get active each day, making sure you get enough rest, and finally leveraging a journal to help keep you in touch with your feelings and gauge your progress.
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- Catch up with our earlier episodes: Mind Over Markets Podcast