Fear of Success

Let’s talk about fear; specifically, the fear of success as it pertains to sobriety (and well, life).

The fear of success often masks itself as the fear of failure. We have a goal that we want to work for and we start having negative thoughts; “What if I fail? How will people view me? What if I let others down?”. These negative thoughts, manifested from fear, often times causes us to seize, and we stop working towards our goals before we actually start.

But maybe it’s not the fear of failure that is getting in our way? What if it’s the fear of success?

By succeeding:

  • It creates expectations
  • It creates accountability
  • It creates commitment
  • It creates work
  • It creates growth
  • It creates change

These things ARE indeed scary, especially if you’ve never had expectations or accountability etc. but it’s not what success IS, it’s merely the byproduct of success. So what is success?

Success is the journey, not the destination.
As long as you are moving from Point A to Point B, you are succeeding. Whether it’s not picking up that bottle on day one or picking up your 10 year chip, as long as you are making that conscious effort to move forward, you are succeeding.

Everyday that you succeed, you work to make a small commitment and you begin to set positive expectations, you begin to become accountable, you start to grow, and you begin to change. With success everyday, little by little, you become everything you once feared.

I can say I was afraid of succeeding in sobriety. I think the fear held me back for years. I think that I was afraid of all that comes with succeeding, the commitment, the accountability, the work! It’s like, once you start, you can’t stop until it’s done, and with sobriety, you’re never really done. I wasn’t afraid to fail, I failed a lot, I was used to failure; it was my comfort zone. I was afraid I would actually do it, succeed.

I think changing your mindset and perspective on what it means to succeed, that it’s the journey, not the destination, it makes success tangible, possible without the fear.

Let’s start a dialog: Are you or have you been afraid of success? Has it held you back? Have you overcome it? If so, how did you do it? Are there things in your life now that you would like to succeed at?


Oooof. Yep, this is me too.

It’s in the little moment-to-moment decisions for me: do I take this time to do some exercise before breakfast? Nah, I’ll just have breakfast then go for a walk after. (That rarely happens.) Do I take time to do my admin work / payroll / account reconciliation / other paperwork which I don’t want to do? I do some of that - I do payroll because if I don’t, my staff don’t get paid and I feel like I’ve let them down - but I don’t do things that don’t directly involve others.

That’s a weird pattern, the way I will do things that directly involve others but not do things that are only for me (or where only I would be aware they are done; at least in the short term).

The moment-to-moment decisions are where I have struggled.


Im gonna say with my alcoholism i dont feel like there is an actual point of success but that every day i am sober i am succeeding…there is no 1 time were i will have actually succeeded because there will never be a point where i am cured…i am good with that though because it feels like less pressure than working toward any type of end goal and the issues that can bring.


Yes, I think it is common to have a fear of success. Because it involves change. What if I can’t do this? Or what if I can and everything changes??
The fear of success has held me back, but I have decided to try anyway these days. If I fail at least I’ve tried!

I don’t think I’ve overcome the fear, but I have made changes to my reaction to the fear. Again trying anyway is what’s working best for me.

I want to make a better life for my children! That is what I have been working towards since I first laid eyes on my oldest child. If I can succeed at that, I will be satisfied.

Thank you for this thread. It really made me reflect and think on things :blush:


Indeed! It all goes back to “One day at a time” - if you wake up and go to bed sober, that is a successful day and succeeding in sobriety!

1 Like

This hits home 100%

It’s so easy to play it safe and not take risks, because what if everything changes?!

I am letting fear of success hold me back from being a musician. I want to, but if I am good at it, what does that mean 6 or 12 months from now. What does life look like? Would my wife support me (pretty sure she won’t). A lot of unknowns for something I haven’t even tried to do yet… It’s kind of silly, really.

1 Like

Wow… I really needed to see this today. This is exactly what I feel like I have been battling all my life and the reason I chose to drink for so long.

I am a dreamer… I come up with great big ideas but then I get bogged down in the details or talk myself out of them because I am too afraid to fail.

After reading the original post I realized I have been drinking or smoking all my life so that I didnt have to follow through with my plans.

I have been masking my fear of success with substances and telling myself I fear failure.

Life is meant to be lived by doing things you enjoy…failure and success won’t matter as much at that point… your chances of success will increase though because you will enjoy what you are doing.

1 Like

Isnt this kind of like when you hear people say “If I quit drinking now I wont be able to drink at my wedding” or similar comment. You dont want to take action now because your current worries are being projected on your future self.

1 Like