It is often said that people fail to pursue their dreams because they fear failure. They fear that if they try and don’t succeed, they’ll confirm their worse fears; that they never had it in them to begin with. As such, people only make meagre efforts, if any at all, citing various reasons for their lack of trying, not enough time, too many other commitments, etc. They never really give themselves the option of success. With that, they can always look back and believe that they had it in them, but it just wasn’t meant to be. They can hang on to the shadow of a dream.
Success Doesn’t Make You Happier
Success, on the other hand, can be even scarier. You set goals for yourself, work towards them, and succeed. You think that this is the key to happiness. It’s not. I’ve achieved a number of my bigger ticket dreams in the past few years. I had a book published. I earned my 5th Dan in Jiu-jitsu. I became an international seminar instructor. I earned 6 credits and became a full Stuntlist member. I got my first fight choreographer credit. I’m not any happier. Sure, there was a period when I was on a bit of a high after each success, but that fades soon enough. Then you begin to start asking, “What next?”
Success Can Pose Bigger Problems than Failure
The journey continues. You set new goals to work towards dreams that are continually out of reach. Because the challenges become greater, the plateaus are longer. You start to wonder if you’ve hit your ceiling. More and more people start to depend on you. You worry about letting them down, about letting yourself down. The higher you go, the more is at stake. As other people start to take notice of you, some will start actively seeking your flaws, your mistakes, even try to knock you down a few pegs because what you do threatens them in some way. Some of the most successful people I know sometimes get the niggling feeling that they don’t deserve the accolades they’ve received. They still see themselves as learning, that they still have a long way to go, and that feeling becomes more pervasive the more they learn and the better they get. This can make you feel like a fraud if you let it.
Facing Fear of Success through Humility
Some people deal with these fears by buying into the press, by believing they’re just awesome because everyone says they are. These people go back to the beginning and start to fear failure once again. To learn and improve, one has to make mistakes. So fear of failure sometimes causes these people to stop training, so as to not provide evidence that they’re not as good as everyone says they are. Then, they stagnate. I believe the better answer is to just do one’s best to stay humble, to appreciate one’s successes and thank others’ for their appreciation of it, but to continue on with their learning in whatever capacity it takes. You’ll never have all the answers. To pretend otherwise is to be a fraud. The journey is what’s important.
The Endless Journey
Earlier I said that success doesn’t make you happier. That’s not to say that I’m not happy. I am quite happy with my lot in life. But it’s not because of the successes, it’s because of everything in between. It’s because I enjoy the process of what I do, I what I learn and how I grow. The successes are just milestones, little reminders of the journey taken thus far. These milestones also remind you that there are always more paths to take and more distance to travel. The key is to enjoy the journey in its entirety, miles and milestones, and to keep it going.
Now over to you. Do you relate to any of this? Does it apply to you and your life? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. 🙂