Everyone wants to succeed. If you’re willing to work hard towards your goals effectively and positively, you’re likely to gain achievements and reach goals regularly throughout your life. There are many ways to get to your dreams of success, as long as you go about it in a balanced way. On the other hand, obsessing over success can impede your growth.
It’s hard to work towards goals when you’re feeling anxious, worried, or suffering psychologically. And, ironically, these kinds of problems can crop up when you become a little too focused on the idea of reaching goals and dreams. Here are nine ways obsessing over success fuels anxiety and stress.
1. You Focus On Optimization and Never Get Started
A focus on success can often mean you want to be perfectly prepared for everything before you even begin trying to work towards success.
- You refuse to begin hiking because you don’t have the perfect gear for it when in reality, you can certainly make do safely with what you already have.
- You attribute other people’s success to the tools they had available and don’t want to begin chasing success without those tools, even though those tools are meant to supplement, not give you an easy ride.
- Often you state that it’s not “the right time” to start working on your latest interest, even though there is no such thing as a “right time,” and you could have gotten far if you just started when you first wanted to.
- You use phrases like “When the time is right,” “When I have my ducks in a row,” “When I have those things” to delay starting on projects.
This kind of thinking often manages to slip through the cracks as it’s all in the guise of being “prepared” or “wise,” even though it just continually delays any progress at all. In the meantime, you feel stressed out and anxious thinking about even beginning and continue to avoid getting a start by making more and more excuses.
All the anticipation and tension can build up over time, causing more stress. On top of that, the bottom line is that all that preparation cannot sufficiently guarantee success or circumvent failure. You’ll feel even more stressed out and anxious when you’re forced to confront the reality that all that stalling didn’t do anything for you in the long run.
2. You Chase Ideas Of Success You Don’t Believe In
Ironically, the more you obsess over something, the less clear it can become in your mind. As your obsession with success grows, your idea of it morphs, too, turning it into a more abstract, idealized concept that doesn’t have much basis in reality.
In truth, success can be a unique concept to each individual who dreams of it. You have to define exactly what success means to you to create actionable goals that move you towards it. If you fail to do so, you’ll have no direction as you start charging ahead.
Stress and anxiety often arise when you don’t know what you want out of the idea of success. You’ll keep chasing this undefined concept and will have no idea what it actually means, leaving you feeling unfulfilled, lost, and unsure of yourself.
3. You Stop Being Grateful
Being focused on success can mean forgetting about the good parts of the world you live in. Your vision becomes narrowed to accommodate the chase for success and little else, and your obsession can make you focus on all the negative things you run into. And, naturally, there are many “failures” and hurdles on the path to success.
Focusing on these bad things can up your stress and anxiety already, but it also means you’re less grateful. You overlook your progress in favor of zooming in on your stutters. It’s not a good way to live and derails positive thinking quickly.
Success shouldn’t be the only thing you ever devote your attention to. Look around and find things to be appreciative of in your everyday life, and it’ll take the edge off daily stress and anxieties regarding your goals. Long-term gratitude can change the way your brain functions, allowing it to see positive things more easily, thus reducing those worries and increasing your real chances of success.
4. Obsessing Might Make You Lose Sight Of Passion
Not everyone can pursue their passions in line with their pursuit of success, and it’s okay if your personal definition of success doesn’t include your hobbies or non-career interests. However, what’s not okay is completely neglecting these passions in favor of obsessing over the success you seek.
Taking time to indulge in your interests and subjects of enjoyment are important parts of reducing stress and anxiety. If you never feed your soul and positive thinking with the things you love, you’ll wind up subjecting your mental health to a lot of trouble. Don’t let your drive for success make you forget that there’s more to your life than that!
5. You Compare Yourself To Others
When you’re obsessed with success, it’s easy to start comparing yourself to others. For example, you may:
- Want the same kind of success that other people have
- Try to compete with other people’s progress
- Feel discouraged when you’re not progressing as quickly as others
- Become complacent if your progress is faster than other people’s
- Define success by the people around you
While there’s nothing wrong with being motivated by the achievements of others, constant social comparison is detrimental to your positive thinking. It can quickly and easily become a source of stress and anxiety.
It’s not possible to properly compare yourself with anyone in a way that’s accurate or matters. You aren’t privy to every detail and component of someone’s progress and success. So you can never be sure if everything is comparable. Regardless, your success shouldn’t be dependent on others.
People who are obsessed with success tend to think that they’ll find happiness by finding success. Based on studies, that’s not true. The people who live the happiest, most positive lives develop connections to others and base their lives on love and relationships, not on the things they achieve.
If you’re looking for happiness, you’re unlikely to find it by chasing success at an overdone rate. You’ll only get more and more stressed out as your efforts fail to bring you happiness or even any of that achievement you desire. Don’t lose sight of the things that are truly important in life, like your loved ones. When your successes are left behind as you retire and relax in old age, you’ll want to be surrounded by loving people and have lots of lovely memories with friends and family.
7. You Forget To Take Care Of Yourself
An obsession with success makes you very single-minded when it comes to chasing down what you want. This can make you neglect yourself, your needs, and your self-care, and these things are all crucial for the positive management of anxiety and stress.
It’s honorable to want to put a lot of effort into following your goals but remember that to reach them. You have to be in good health – both physically and mentally. If you don’t ensure that your wellbeing is cared for, you won’t have the energy you need to succeed.
Here are some tips for ensuring that you take care of yourself:
- Schedule “me-time” that’s completely non-negotiable for at least a few minutes a day and a longer stretch of time during your off days.
- Remember to take care of your health – eat well, sleep well, and get enough physical activity, even if doing these things takes away from your time spent chasing success.
- Let yourself rest and relax now and then, and remember that taking breaks is extremely important to overall success.
8. You Don’t Recognize Your Limits
Being ambitious is a good thing! But those ambitions need to be reasonable. It’s a great idea to challenge yourself with the goals you make, but it’s a bad idea to set borderline ones impossible. Unfortunately, an obsession with success can make you think that your most unreasonable expectations of yourself are perfectly workable.
Overdoing your ambitions can send you into a destructive spiral where:
- 1. You set impossible goals.
- 2. You fail to reach your impossible goals.
- 3. You become anxious, depressed, and stressed out due to perceived failure.
- 4. Your anxiety and stress make it even harder for you to reach your goals.
- 5. You give up on your goals.
Make sure you’re keeping an eye on your limits. What is a reasonable challenge for you, personally? Where are your boundaries, and how can you respect them? How far are you capable of going before you burn out? All of this must be taken into account.
9. You Forget How Success Requires Failure
When people are obsessed with success, they can easily forget that it’s not always going to be sunshine and daisies on their road to their goals. Failure is part of the process, as you can’t truly succeed in a meaningful way without making mistakes and learning as you go. Consider:
- To achieve success, you will have to fail and learn from your mistakes several times.
- The more successful you become, the more visible your mistakes grow to be. Thus, the shorter your stint on the platform of achievement may last.
- Success in one area doesn’t mean you won’t face failure in other areas.
When you forget about these facts of life, facing any form of failure can send you into a rush of stress and anxiety. You’re so focused on success and its promises that you’re blindsided by and unable to cope with the reality that errors will happen, no matter what you do.
Being driven by the idea of success is a great thing! But being so obsessed with it that you can’t see anything else is only counterproductive. The human brain needs to focus on more than just one thing to function well. Chase your ambitions, but be well-rounded, too! There’s a thin line between motivation and obsession, so don’t cross that boundary.