Starting to overcome fear of failure can be a massive step in achieving your goals and doing the things you’ve always wanted to do.
Fear of failure is something that tends to creep up quite soon after you get a brilliant idea or you just get the courage to do the thing you’ve always wanted to do. You’re just about to take that leap and go for it and, all of a sudden, aaaall the fears creep in. What if it all goes wrong? What if people think I’m crazy? What if, what if, what if?
What is fear of failure?
We’re hardwired to seek approval from others – if you think back to when we were living in caves, we were safer if we were in a tribe. We didn’t want to be on our own and that’s where the fear of other people’s judgments comes from.
The fear of failure itself comes from your brain trying to do its job and protect you from harm. It remembers things that didn’t go so well in the past and tries to stop you doing those things again so you’re not getting stressed or upset.
How can I overcome it?
The actual fear of failure can do more damage than failure itself because it stops you from going for the things you really want.
To prevent the fear from taking over, you need to learn to view failure as a learning opportunity and become comfortable with the idea of it. We will all fail at some point in our lives because we’re human. But is it worse to try & fail or to never even try?
Follow these steps to help you overcome the fear of failure.
1) Take action & embrace mistakes
If you see failure as something to be ashamed of, you have to start changing your mindset. There is no shame in failing at something – you have to start thinking about it from a different perspective.
Ask yourself: ‘what can I take from this experience? Even if it doesn’t go entirely to plan, what have I learnt that I can use in the future?’
Look at it this way – if you’ve never failed at something, you’ve been in your comfort zone for too long. There is risk attached to stepping outside your comfort zone & that’s why we like to stay in all cosy & comfy. BUT if you’re staying in this small circle all the time, you’re not going to grow.
So start changing the way you view failure – get into that growth mindset. How are you going to use this experience to learn and grow? Whether you succeed or whether you fail, how will you use it to grow?
And once you’ve questioned your own thoughts around failure and your mindset there, have a think about how you’ll take action.
You can’t wait for confidence to come to you to take action – you need to start taking action in small steps to start feeling more confident in yourself.
You can build yourself up, you can give yourself pep talks, you can do the inner work to get yourself feeling brave enough to take action but the true confidence will come when you actually take that action – when you pick up the phone to call someone or you ask for that promotion at work.
2) Make a plan with small goals & don’t overthink it
Now what you might do is start making a plan to reach a bigger goal and you might spend so long poring over this plan and taking things out and putting things in that you start to realise you’re not moving anywhere. You’re just making a plan.
What you need to remember is that the plan doesn’t have to be perfect. Perfection is paralysis. If the plan is about 70% there but you know you can start working with it, that’s fine. Go with it. Don’t plan everything to the nth degree because things change all the time anyway.
Remember to make small goals to reach your big goal and use them as stepping stones to get where you need to be. But don’t let planning hold you back. Don’t spend hours stuck on the planning. Start doing. Get things in motion.
If you’re waiting for permission, I’m going to give it to you. You’ve spent enough time on the planning. You’re procrastinating. You’re doubting yourself. But don’t. You need to start moving. You need to get your plan in motion.
3) Say yes to opportunities you truly want & say ‘so what?’
Another thing you need to start doing is saying YES to opportunities you truly want. That’s not a yes to every opportunity. But a big YES to the ones that you want to go for.
When an opportunity comes up, you might start going into overdrive. Your mind might be thinking ‘oh god, what if it all goes wrong?’
So stop. Think it through logically. Weigh up the pros and cons. Try and get a good idea of your gut feeling too – what is your intuition telling you? If it feels right, say YES.
And when those thoughts come up, the ones around failure and other people judging you, say to yourself ‘So what?’
So what if it all goes wrong? So what if I mess up? So what? Who cares? Life is short, we all make mistakes.
Instead of saying ‘what if? What if? What if?’ and getting yourself into all these rabbit holes where you’re just overthinking everything, ask yourself ‘So what?’
4) Accept advice and help
And finally, my last point for today is to accept advice & help because too often, we try to do it all ourselves or we worry we’ll look weak if we ask for support.
But no, asking for help is a sign of strength – all you’re saying is ‘I don’t have that piece of knowledge in my brain about how to fix this, can you share your experience with me please?’ And that’s it!
Now obviously, not everyone will have your best intentions at heart so only accept advice from people you really do trust & you know will genuinely help you out but don’t be afraid to reach out.
We’re all beginners at some point.
Let me know how you get on,