Conquer Your Fear Of Failure
How To Face Your Fear Of Moving Forward
It's a daunting word.
Have you ever been afraid of failing so much that you decided to just not try?
Or do you feel like your subconscious fear of failure has undermined your efforts to achieve your goals?
So many of us have experienced these things at one time or another.
Fear of Failure can be immobilizing ~ stopping us in our tracks.
But achieving our goals and dreams in life means maintaining forward progress.
In this article, we're going to dig into the causes, symptoms, and solutions for truly conquering this fear and achieving the success you truly deserve.
What Causes Fear of Failure?
If we want to know what the cause is, first we have to understand what "failure" is.
We all define failure differently, because we all have different value systems, belief systems and benchmarks by which we 'grade' ourselves.
The most basic definition of failure is "lack of success".
But that's overly simplistic.
Success isn't about taking one action and instantly having the full and complete results you were looking for... (that's GREAT....but it seldom actually happens)
But success doesn't look like this...
...it looks like this:
When you have an unrealistic idea of what "success" and "failure" means, every 'down-tick' on the path to success can be misinterpreted as a failure.
So where does this "misinterpretation" come from?
Some contributing factors might be...
...Experiencing a deeply traumatic event in your life.
...Chronic self-doubt or low self esteem.
...having had overly critical parents.
...Being routinely humiliated and bullied in childhood.
When you've been taught by your past to live in fear, to not strive or there will be a negative consequence, the result is almost always a fear of failure.
What Does It "Look" Like?
The actual "experience" of fear of failure manifests differently for everyone.
- You might have a reluctance to try new things.
- You might avoid challenging projects at work (either consciously or subconsciously).
- You may feel a mild to crippling lack of self-confidence, often thinking or saying such negativity as "I'll never be good enough to...." or "I'm not smart enough for....".
- You may engage in self-sabotaging behavior, like procrastination or anxiety.
- You may suffer from perfectionism, such as turning down a project or promotion because you aren't sure you could do it successfully.
It's nearly impossible to go through life without ever experiencing failure.
It is a fact, however, that essentially ALL achievement in the world has been made by individuals who went through a period of trial and error before finally having success.
- Author J.K. Rowling tells a story of how she was a single, out-of-work mother shortly out of college, and her now-famous stories about Harry Potter were rejected by 12 different publishers before being accepted.
- Michael Jordan, one of the most successful athletes of all time, was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach though he wasn't good enough. He missed 50.3% of all the shots he ever took as a professional basketball player.
- And the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, is a Harvard dropout.
Those who never try to succeed, end up living lives of "quiet desperation", as Thoreau said.
And even though most of us WILL encounter failures in life, consider the opportunities you will undoubtedly miss if you let your fear stop you.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.
~ John C Maxwell
Failure can teach us things about ourselves and our motivations and beliefs that we could never learn, otherwise.
By examining our "failures" we can gain valuable insights. Learning from those insights is the key to success!
How To Conquer It
In everything you do, there's always a chance of failure.
Facing that chance... embracing it... demonstrates courage.
You show courage when you do something despite the fear.
Experiencing courage gives us a fuller, more enriching life.
But there are ways that you can lessen the fear of failing.
- Positive Thinking - Learning to think positively is an incredibly powerful way to expand your self-confidence and stop you from self-sabotaging.
- Analyzing Outcomes - Considering all possible outcomes of your action can reduce the fear of the unknown.
- Worst-Case Scenario - Examining the worst case scenario allows you to put a "known" value to what could actually happen, rather than dreading the "unknown".
- Backup Plan - If you plan for success, but have a "plan B" in place ahead of time, you can move forward confidently knowing that you have an option if something goes wrong.
How To Live Without Fear
When you live in fear, whether it's fear of failure or any other types of fear, it can be very uncomfortable setting goals.
However, goals help us move in the direction of our best, most fulfilling lives.
Without goals, we cannot "begin with the end in mind".
As you set small goals, and accomplish them, you build confidence to make the next small goal, and the next larger one after that, and so on.
Here are some tools to help you make choices in spite of fear, to help build your confidence:
Set A (Slightly) Challenging Goal, Every Day
The best way to overcome fear is to face it head on. Do one thing that scares you a little bit, every single day. Don't make it a big one, just one small thing that you can use to gain a little bit of confidence. Do this every day, and your confidence will skyrocket.
Visualize yourself as you want to be, rather than what you fear you are. Using your mind's eye, imagine who you might be if you couldn't fail no matter what you tried. Who would you be? How would you act?
Affirmations are positive, uplifting statements that we say to ourselves, about ourselves. They are more effective when said aloud, so that you can hear it as well as think it, and stated as a question. Our brains are wired to seek answers to questions, so phrase your affirmations in such a way that your brain looks for that answer. For example, instead of saying "I am good at making friends!", you might ask "Why am I so good at making friends?"
Fear of failure has the potential to limit us in every endeavor we undertake.
By working to overcome our fear, to re-frame the way we address our fear, and learning internal tools to manage and eliminate those fears, we are able to live happier, more rewarding lives.
What fear of failure are you struggling to overcome?
Leave a comment below!