How to overcome your Fear of Failure
Fear is a part of the human race. It’s something we encounter on a frequent basis. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of because everyone is afraid of something, which affects us differently.
What Is Fear of Failure?
Fear is an emotion caused by anxiety or the uneasiness of being afraid of something or someone. Fear of failure is when we allow fear to stop us from doing the things that could help us reach our goal.
What causes fear of failure?
Below are some of the main reasons which cause the fear of failure:
- Constant Struggle to achieve Perfectionism – Perfectionism is often at the root of the fear of failure. Believe me, it’s the worst. It drives people to constantly do more, leading folks who struggle with it to take on far more challenges and succeed. This unrealistic expectation of always giving the best results lead to chronic stress and burnout. Sometimes, it humiliates you to such an extent, that you find giving up as a better choice than trying ever again.
- False self-confidence – People with fragile self-confidence try to avoid risks and play it safe instead. Whereas, a person with true confidence knows that failure is a part of the journey and cannot always be avoided. Also, I believe there won’t be any sign of success without failure.
- Patterns from childhood – Over-critical adults cause children to doubt themselves. They establish fear-based rules, which causes children to feel the constant need to ask for permission and reassurance. This becomes a part of their lives, which, unfortunately, they find hard to get rid of.
We all must have experienced one of the above fears, particularly when we are setting to try something new. The fear is mainly that we might not “make it” through something we’re passionate about. And when I say We, I mean it. I have had a significant fear of failure until I realized that life is too short to allow fear to make big decisions for me.
Unfortunately, for some people, failure presents such a massive psychological threat that their motivation to avoid failure exceeds their motivation to succeed. Whilst, it can be a challenge to overcome fear, it’s possible. Before we proceed further, I would like you to virtually tick mark the signs mentioned below:
- Failing makes you worry about your ability to pursue the future you desire
- You often get last-minute headaches, stomach aches, or other physical symptoms that prevent you from completing your preparation.
- Failing makes you worry about what other people would think
- You tend to tell people beforehand that you don’t expect to succeed in order to lower their expectations.
If you got even one of that right, we are in the same boat. I used to be afraid of failure, and I still am.
Yeah!! That’s not how we look when we are fearful but that’s the closest representation of the feelings inside of us. Isn’t it? Well, now that we know what causes fear of failure, let’s learn to handle it in a step-by-step process:
#1 Identify the Root Cause
The first step to conquering the fear of failure is to find the root cause. To know this, start from the beginning when this fear had formed and observe what you feel, see, or hear.
Is it since your childhood? Were your parents overly protective, or you have a particularly strict teacher? Quite possibly they did it because they wanted the best for you. Sometimes, we interpret the situation differently when we are a part of it. But if you look at the event as an outsider, we will see that it had nothing to do with us, and that changes the entire scenario.
Instances from the past can greatly influence your mental health and ultimately how you live your life. Hence, it becomes important to examine your negative beliefs and put them in place.
#2 Redefine Failure
What You Think, You Become ~ Bible
which means, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve,” Napoleon Hill once said. This literally means that how you define failure decides the outcome. If you continue to consider failure as merely not reaching the desired outcome, then you limit your perspective and miss opportunities to grow.
It needs to be taken as constructive feedback, which encourages changes in the existing method. Honestly, there isn’t anything wrong with making mistakes, but what you do next decides the course of action. So, follow the mantra of 3 As.
Accept, Avoid and Adapt. Take accountability for the results. Avoid repeating the same mistakes again. Adapt and learn, which often involves changing your standards to meet the desired outcome.
Trust me when I say we aren’t alone in this. There are countless examples of hugely successful individuals who have experienced failure:
- Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was initially cut from his high school basketball team.
- Richard Branson, the owner of the Virgin empire, is a high-school dropout.
- Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest and most successful businessmen, was rejected by Harvard University.
The difference was how they viewed those outcomes, worked on the shortcomings, and moved forward to try again. As long as you continue accepting the failure as constructive feedback and keep making an effort, there is no such thing as losing.
#3 Visualize all Potential Outcomes
Uncertainty about what will happen next can be terrifying. And it’s completely normal. But it shouldn’t end up questioning your abilities.
Ask yourself 2 most important questions:
Are you giving your 100%? If not, what would happen if you were?
Are you making an effort to fulfil your dreams? If not, what would happen if you were?
Initially, my answers were No. Why? Because I was afraid of the outcome. I was scared to find out that I might not be as talented as I thought. This made me doubt my abilities at a certain point.
Fortunately, things have been different, since I started to weigh the pros and cons, and imagine potential successes and failures in making such a life-altering decision. It’s a relief to know what possibly can go wrong, so as to be prepared to face the consequences.
Ask yourself the same questions and answer honestly. I’m sure writing down your findings would help. Don’t be scared to challenge yourself, and delve into anything that comes up unexpectedly.
#4 Work on making your dream a reality
It’s easy to give up on the dreams we have ever had since childhood. This could definitely be due to numerous reasons. There are people who hate their jobs and feel there is nothing they can do about it. But that isn’t true.
Let’s say you despise working in a 9 to 5 job and want to start your own clothing line. You don’t have to quit your job and start your own business. Rather, start by building up your skills and qualifications in the spare time required to set up your business. When time gets tough, take heart in the fact that you are giving your dream a try.
If changing careers isn’t an option, take out time to do more of what makes you happy. This is what truly identifies you. Never step back if you have a choice.
#5 Learn from the experience
Sometimes, things might not go as planned, but it doesn’t mean that you have failed. It’s an opportunity to learn and make changes and grow. Good or bad, experiences have a lot to teach. Learn from whatever arises.
As my Father always say, “Life is Trial and Error.” So, Live, Learn and Strive to make your dream a reality.
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to overcome a fear of failure, but these five strategies – are a great place to start. Are there any other strategies that work for you? Please consider sharing in the comments below.