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How to Successfully Accept Success

You probably read the title and thought, “Accept success? What does that mean?”. Success is something we’re told to celebrate when we achieve it. Many of us even dedicate most of our lives to its pursuit. We use resources to make us more successful, find steps to follow to increase our chances, and work daily to achieve our goals. So knowing this, it might come as a surprise to you to learn that many people feel guilty about their success. 


Accepting our own success can sometimes be harder than achieving it. When we finally reach the goals we have worked tirelessly for, we sometimes feel like a fraud, as if we do not deserve it. Why do we think that is? And how can we overcome our guilt to truly find peace in achieving our goals? 


What Accepting Success Means

It can be just as difficult to absorb success as it is to accept failure. Some people never feel like they are good enough for the success they achieved. Some people may even feel like a fraud. Feeling guilty is the most common source of not being able to accept your success. Feelings of guilt can include many things and are different for every person. You may feel guilty because you are the first person in your family to achieve this level of success, or you worry your success came too easily. These can be difficult thoughts, and make you question whether you truly deserve the success you are experiencing. 


What Success Means to You

There are many definitions of success, but the most important is the one that you define. What does success look like in your eyes? How you define your own success determines the path you take to achieve it. Otherwise, you end up taking someone else’s definition, making you feel even more guilty. 


Success is new, it's different, and it’s unknown, especially if you are the first person in your family to achieve it. Because it’s so new, there is an overwhelming feeling that you don’t belong. This is referred to as imposter Syndrome. It’s also mentally difficult, and we find we have to give ourselves reality checks when achieving our goals. Regardless, defining your terms for success means that when you measure your own, you won’t feel as if you do not deserve it. 


How to Accept Success For Yourself

When good things happen, try to stretch the feelings of happiness that come with it before drawing in thoughts of impending doom. It’s equally as important to acknowledge your role and savor your contribution to your success. Here are a few ways to help navigate feelings of guilt:


Reflect on the Process

We don’t always think about the strategies that made us successful when we are too busy feeling guilty. Reflecting on the strategies that helped you achieve your goals can give some validity to the situation. 


Understanding We Are Not Perfect

No one is 100 percent perfect. In fact, most people who are the most successful have stated that their failures got them to where they are. When we stop searching for perfection, it makes it easier to digest that we are successful. 


  1. Source: Ariane Resnick (2022) What to Do If You Feel Guilty About Success


  1. Source: Barton Goldsmith (2018) 10 Tips for Achieving and Dealing With Success


  1. Source: Hamaira Kabir (2022) How to Accept Your Success Instead of Feeling Like a Fraud

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