How to Overcome the Fear of Success


“We often hesitate to follow our intuition out of fear. Most usually, we are afraid of the changes in our own life that our actions will bring.” – Caroline Myss

Which one are you more afraid of: failure or success?

When it comes to following your dreams, do you worry more about not being able to cope with negative feelings when you mess up or not being able to handle the level of increased responsibility that success often brings? Most of us think we fall in the first camp of not wanting to fail. But many of us are actually more fearful of what might happen if we actually achieved that big goal we say we want.

It can be scary to think about all the different ways your life could change as a result of losing all the weight, making more money, attracting a great man, finding a better job, moving to an exciting new city, etc. Your friends might think you’ve “changed” (you have). Your family might doubt your drastic choices (they will). Your co-workers might be jealous of you (yup, that too).

But freedom comes when you are able to accept the truth that your own self-actualization is worth more than the discomfort you have to go through to get there. Here are two strategies to help you overcome the fear of success and step into the greatness that you were made for.

Take Responsibility for What You Love

Many people say they don’t know what their purpose is, but that statement is also rooted in fear. If you pay attention to your intuition, you will see that you are being reminded of your purpose nearly every day. What I know for sure is that we are all here for a reason and we have to take responsibility for that.

If you know you are here to make a difference, DO IT.

If you know you were meant to write books and educate the world, DO IT.

If you know you were born to make art and design jewelry and create healing spaces in your community, DO ALL OF THAT.

Do not let fear keep you from waking up with joy every morning, knowing that your life and work matters. Stand in the strength of your vision and go where it leads you.

You’re not doing anyone any favors by keeping your gifts to yourself. (click here to tweet this quote!)

When you take responsibility for what you love and begin to show up with your unique talents, magic happens. People will start to support you and help you on the journey to achieve your goals.

If you’re not currently doing the work that you’ve been called to do, spend some time figuring out how you can change that. Because really, life is too short not to.

Remember That It’s Not Really About You

Over the past few months, I’ve been having vivid dreams of what’s to come for Happy Black Woman. I’ve had women come up to me at my speaking engagements and live events to tell me they can see the vision also. And that’s when my own fear of success comes up. My lizard brain starts asking stupid questions:

  • Who am I to think I can help people? (I ask this even after I’ve helped thousands of people over the years in their lives, careers and businesses.)
  • Who am I to be on stage? (I ask this even after speaking professionally for almost 6 years now.)
  • Who am I to be teaching other people, especially those who are older than me? (I ask this even after being an adjunct professor at a university for 3 years.)

But it’s during those moments of doubt that I remember it’s not really about me.

This weekend, I received a sweet thank-you card in the mail from a reader with a nice note of appreciation for my work. Inside the card, she wrote something along the lines of, “God is using you for good.”

The next day, I was contacted (via Facebook!) for a radio interview on 89.3FM WRFG in Atlanta for a late-night show about how to create the live you want. After my segment, the host told me a listener had called in bawling because my words touched her.

When you walk in your purpose, you inspire others to do the same. (click to tweet this quote!)

Those constant reminders allow me to see that the universe wants me to succeed. I write this in awe that I am being used for a purpose that is bigger than me. It’s both terrifying and exciting because I want to do so much more with Happy Black Woman over the next year. I know that as the brand grows, there will be more articles, more books, more events, more radio, more clients, more customers, more programs and all that comes with promoting my business and the value of this community. Of course, there will be people who don’t get what I’m doing, who don’t like the name, who don’t like me for whatever reason. But I’m ready for all of it. Because it’s not really about me. It’s about the transformation that other people get from the work I do.

For me, success is being able to do what I love. And when I look at it that way, I realize that I’m more excited than I am afraid of the path I am taking to get there.

Leave a comment below: Are you afraid of success? Why or why not?


Rosetta Thurman is the Founder of Happy Black Woman, a supportive community that empowers women to create their ideal lives through personal development and entrepreneurship. Join thousands of women who have completed the only online course that gives you all the tools you need to get unstuck, set clear goals and rediscover who you truly are. Learn more about my 31 Days to Reset Your Life program here.



Comments & Feedback:

  1. Kesh

    I have been asking myself daily as of late, “what is my purpose?” I feel like my purpose is help people improve their lives in some way. I want to make people feel happy in some way. I’m just not sure what profession I should choose in order to do this. Or maybe I do know subconsciously what I should be doing in my life but I’m just fearful to admit it? I really don’t know. Thank you for this thought-provoking and eye-opening post.

  2. Beautifully written Rosetta. Thank you! It’s so true! When you walk in your purpose you liberate others and enable them to do the same. Thank you for your transparency as always!

  3. Reading this showed me how I’ve let other voices discourage me from stepping out. Thanks for the reminder to keep ignoring fear by saying who am I not to succeed?

  4. Shaunda

    I struggle with this. I find myself wondering what are people going to think about me…will they think I’ve changed? Then I tell myself that I am supposed to change…that I am supposed to do better, think better, etc. I have also asked myself who do I think I am to want to coach people, write an inspirational book? I know it’s the spirit of fear talking and I have to shut it down!

  5. Brittany

    No need to ever beat yourself up there’s a reason why you made a decision at that time. In life, we may have the best intentions in mind when we make that decision but there are times where it blows up in our face. Don’t worry just brush yourself off because usually things always gets 10x better! Trust me I’m living proof of this! Everything happens for reason and ALWAYS ALWAYS fight for your dreams while believing in your intuition ;)

  6. Monique

    I am afraid of success, because I didn’t have a path carved out for me from anyone in my family. I am the first to graduate from college.I am the first to actually have a career. The first to soon be a first time home owner. The first to soon have my own business and non-profit organization. The list could go on…it can be very scary, because the people who I thought should be supporting me aren’t, but I ‘ve learned to deal with that. If I sat around waiting for affirmation from them I wouldn’t be where I am at now. I am so glad that I have decided to move on with my goals. It is very liberating to see how much I’ve grown over the years.

  7. I totally identify with your questions Rosetta! :) I run a marriage and personal growth blog and i have to block out that little crazy voice that says ‘you are five years old in marriage – who will listen to you? you just came into the US from Africa, who cares what you have to say? You struggle in your personal growth efforts – how can you teach that which you haven’t perfected? and on and on.

    I’ve come to see that the longer i keep audience with defeatist thoughts, the more i cement the thought in my mind. But i got a choice – i can tune out of negativity and tune into truth and intentional steps. When I engage forward movement, the ‘reverse voice’ just lets go :)
    Great reminders!

  8. I’m definitely afraid of failure and looking like a fool for things not working out. I’ll be honest with that.

    But, you’re right, I’m just as afraid of success. My biggest fears is how I’ll deal with it. Will I be up to the challenge of growth? Will I be able to help clients like I really want to? Am, I really going to enjoy working on my own?

    Either way, there is a lot of doubt and fear. It’s fear of the unknown. But, there are many things unknown. So, I’m going to commit to moving forward despite that.

    Your post is very inspiring today as I submit paper work to hold my first local workshop! I’m trying as much as I can to walk in my purpose! Thank you!

    • Jill

      Congratulations! I am in the process of trying to put what would be my first workshop together. What will yours be about?

  9. This is soooo timely. Right after I was hired for my current position, I was approached for a freelance position for an up and coming entrepreneur out of D.C. I was so fearful about finally doing something I loved for someone else who I thought was “big time”, I declined. I blamed my new position on not being able to help her. I still regret that a year later and probably will years down the road. That situation opened my eyes to the fear I really had about success and doing what I loved even on a full time basis. I promised myself I’d never turn down an opportunity like that again. This post has some GREAT points I will definitely be implementing immediately. Thanks!!

    • Jill

      You know, maybe we shouldn’t beat ourselves up to much for turning down what looks to be a great opportunity at the time. Fear and doubt is certainly part of it, but it could be that we not not be quite ready to take on whatever challenge. However, there is still something to be gained from it. Perhaps situations like that are meant to open our eyes and show us an example of what is possible. Then we know what to look for and will see that there is an abundance of such opportunities all around and reveal something about the marketplace we didn’t know before, allowing us to be more proactive, even a bit selective about what, how and when we choose.

      Years ago, I had the opportunity to interview for what seemed to be a perfect job and I was most anxious to leave the one I was in at the time. I ended up having to reschedule the interview, so while they did see me, they had already made a decision by the time I did go. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I eventually learned that the person I would have reported to was supposedly very difficult to work with, and that they’d had trouble keeping the position filled. Shortly after that I interviewed for another similar position and it worked out better than I could have imagined. But if it had not been for the first “missed” opportunity, i would not have had as clear an idea of what I was looking for.

  10. Success AND failure are terrifying to me! It seems silly to worry about succeeding, but like Jill said, what if I can’t keep it up? I’m also working to build my blog and I’m still learning about what I have to offer. What can I give to people? How do I make sure it matters? Couldn’t they just as easily read what someone else wrote? The only reason I haven’t talked myself out of it is that I really believe it’s the right time to do exactly what I’m doing. I hope my vision becomes more clear like yours.

  11. nicole

    At age 49, I’ve realized that I have so much more life to live. Thank you Rosetta. After reading your blog, your words have given me motivation to stretch out far beyond the self-imposed rope I’ve tied to my wings. I used to think something was wrong with me…anyone with this much self doubt can’t be functioning normally I’d say to myself. But after reading, then weeping, then reading some more, then weeping again…I saw that you only have one ticket on this side of life–so I better start filling up this ticket before its time to cash it in.
    Thanks again for your inspiration.

    • Thank you for reading, Nicole! I love that analogy – that we “only have one ticket on this side of life.” I’m ready to fill mine up, too :) Also remember that there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to someone for help as you move forward – a friend, family member, mentor, coach or therapist could all be a part of your transformation.

  12. I often have many similar doubts. i am in the process of building an audience for my blog, and have begun to have some positive feedback. A few people have said after reading some of my content, that they had not looked at the particular topic in that way before, and would perhaps do something different as a result, or that it’ clear and easy to understand. This is very me, as it is exactly the impact I want to have.

    But then I begin to feel doubts. Here are a few

    1. That I won’t be able to keep up the pace I’ve set for myself (that is to post weekly)
    2. People will lose interest and I think, “Maybe it’s just as well if no one’s really heard of me yet.”
    3. I don’t want the responsibility of having to consistently deliver on expectations. It’s too much work!4.
    4. Who am I to think I can teach anyone something **new** in my area of interest? Why would others find my insights of value?
    5. I’m just saying the same old thing! Do I really know enough or have something truly unique that will be of interest to enough people to make a living at?