Are You Afraid of Success?

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Are you afraid of success? If you are asked this question, your first response is probably an emphatic , “No, of course not!”

Everyone wants to succeed. At least, everyone *thinks* that they want to succeed.

But what if, deep down, something in you is actually *afraid* of succeeding – something that you are not even aware of? And what if this something is preventing you from reaching your full potential, sabotaging you just when you think you are getting close to achieving your goals?

This situation is more common than you may think, and it happens frequently with traders. Trading is a difficult business, psychologically, and it is extremely important to get your trading mindset right.


Fear of success may come in many guises.  It may include:

  • Fear of achieving your goals and yet still not being happy
  • Belief that you actually do not deserve to be successful and to have good things happen for you
  • Fear that achievement may mean the loss of others’ respect and goodwill
  • Belief that there are others who are better than you, who will take your place if you slip even a fraction


The negative consequences that may come as a result of your fear include:

  • A lack of effort toward achieving your goals
  • Problems with decision-making –  analysis paralysis
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as ignoring your trading rules
  • Feelings of guilt and anxiety when you do achieve your goals
  • Denouncing your own accomplishments and denigrating your talents


What sort of belief systems do people like this subscribe to? Below are some examples:

  • I am not good enough. I don’t deserve to win.
  • What if people don’t like me when I am successful?
  • My friends and family will think I am doing something illegal or immoral.
  • People like underdogs. They don’t like winners.
  • I am always afraid that I am going to lose everything that I have worked for.


Are You Afraid of Success?

Afraid of Success?

If you have identified any of these thought patterns in your own trading life, you may be wondering what you can do to erase them and replace them with more effective and productive thought processes.

There are steps you can take to help you overcome this fear and to instill in your subconscious a healthy respect for success and all that comes with it.


First, you need to identify your fears and define them. Ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • What do I think will happen if I achieve success?
  • Am I afraid of being thought arrogant if I tell others of my accomplishments?
  • What would success look like?
  • Who do I think I will hurt or offend if I achieve success?
  • How do I feel that I am undeserving, or that I will not be happy if I achieve success?
  • Do I feel guilt or anxiety when I think about being successful?
  • Am I too much of a perfectionist?


Secondly, address your goals and the actions that you have taken so far toward reaching your goals.

  • What have I done to achieve success?
  • How much of a problem do I have making decisions?
  • Do I sabotage myself in order to keep myself from being successful?
  • Do I lose momentum and motivation as I grow closer to being successful?
  • Do I focus on the tiny unimportant details in order to prevent myself from ever completing a project?
  • Do I wait for everything to be perfect before I act?
  • Have I ever put myself down when discussing my success with others?


Thirdly, you need to determine how you can replace your faulty thought pattern with self-affirming thoughts.

  • How can I make a more honest appraisal of my efforts?
  • How can I accept myself as successful without boasting or being arrogant?
  • How can I eliminate all of my excuses and reasons for not being successful?
  • Can I enlist the help of someone else to provide feedback and help me understand when I am being self-destructive?


Overcoming a fear of success can be very difficult since it is hard to identify it even before you begin to change it. But with very honest introspection and a serious commitment to making changes in your behavior and thought patterns, it is something that can be accomplished.

Successful trading is a tough business. Having the correct mindset for success is what separates the winners from the losers. There’s no room for fear of success, in a successful trader’s mindset. Let overcoming the fear of success be one of your first successes.

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3 thoughts on “Are You Afraid of Success?”

  1. Nice perspective…..  Never thought about it this way…….how does this fear relate to the fear of failure of not reaching goals?    Are the symptoms, thought processes and anxiety similar?

  2. The fear of not reaching your goals is more a fear of failure, and it might prevent you from even seting goals or from trying to reach them. That can also be completely debilitating.

    A similar fear of success is the fear of actually REACHING your goals, and fearing that it will not make your life any more meaningful, or that it will not make you happy. You sabotage yourself and keep yoursef from reaching your goals, so that you will not have to find out what happens when you do.

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