Is there something in your life you are dying to do but you’re too scared to put yourself out there?
Too scared of what people may think of you, or scared about what may go wrong?
Failure? Pfffft. Nope. Not an option. Not if you want to be the best.
We are programmed to think that we can’t fail. We worry about what people will say or think if we fail, slip up, or don’t meet expectations.
And some of us may not even realise it.
Fear of failure has become a huge part of our lives and continues to hold us back from achieving great things.
Fear of failing in front of people, or embarrassing ourselves. From small things like forgetting your name in a meeting, to starting your own business.
How can we expect to learn anything and experience new things if we don’t take a risk?
We are thinking about it all wrong
Think about it this way: how can we avoid doing something because we are worried about failure, when actually we should be more concerned that people are not trying?
People are not going out there and chasing their dreams. Not because they don’t have the means or the ability to achieve great things. They are not doing it because we, me, you… are too scared to fail.
Flipping it around puts a new perspective on it.
Failing is not fatal.
A super important way to grow is to learn from your mistakes.
What if we tried and didn’t fail? What if we tried and succeeded?
Imagine just for a second what that would look like. How amazing it would feel.
Every time we try, we are one step closer to that feeling.
But we would never know this if we don’t try.
Ask yourself these questions
What do you want to achieve?
Why do you want to achieve this?
What is stopping you from achieving this?
Are you scared to fail or embarrass yourself?
What is the worse that could happen?
Is there someone, or a group of people in particular that you are scared to fail in front of?
What is the best that can happen? Isn’t that worth pursuing?
A small amount of fear of failure is normal.
It’s gone too far
It turns out, part of the reason your brain is so afraid of failing is due to its fear of not knowing, which leads to over thinking, over worrying and speculating about things that may or may not even happen. If you’re anything like me, I speculate about the weirdest, most-unlikely-to-happen things possible.
We can get so obsessed with thinking everyone is watching us, waiting for us to fail, but we don’t even know what the outcome will be. This leads us to just assuming the worst.
This happens over and over and suddenly… life has passed us by.
This can result in a plethora of different, unpleasant mental states. It also means you are not opening yourself up to new experiences, new connections, your dreams, happiness and even life.
What is ‘failure’?
Failure is a harsh word.
Failure to everyone will mean something different, not always the literal sense of failing an exam. However, failing an exam may mean failure to YOU.
But is it truly failure? Is failure even a real thing?
We all have different goals and aspirations. Failure could be not hitting a money goal, tripping over your words during a public speech, not hitting a deadline at work, starting your own business and not getting any sales, putting a post on instagram and not getting any engagement.
Carrying your fear of failure on your shoulders can be a huge weight to lug around your entire life. It can get tiresome and frustrating.
Not being where you want to be in life, and not letting yourself get there.
Fear of failure can be caused by many things; a traumatic experience, unsupportive parents, friends or colleagues, freezing while giving a public presentation, seeking external validation, etc.
These events, may seem small to some people, but can have a huge impact on others. You have been undermined or humiliated in front of people, laughed at or even bullied in the past.
It’s not nice – and for some, we carry this weight for a long time.
It builds and builds, has the same affect on other situations in life and before you know it, your an anxious wreck and too scared to even go the supermarket incase you see someone you know and you don’t look your ‘best’.
How do you know if you experience fear of failure?
Are you a perfectionist?
Only doing the things you know you are good at, so you can’t fail. You’ll do a perfect job and no one will be able to criticise you.
Do you hate being criticised or put on the spot?
Does it make you rage with anger or fill up with tears when someone puts you on the spot, in front of everyone, because you made a teeny, tiny mistake? Do you avoid conversations, or entire situations so you can’t do anything wrong?
Do you have low self-confidence?
Always putting yourself down, never feeling good enough, or smart enough.
Do you self-sabotage?
Not committing to something, procrastinating, worrying, anxiety, not taking action so you are not completing your goals. These are all forms of self sabotaging your own happiness. We all do it without even realising.
Do you worry so much, you live so cautiously that you don’t go anywhere? You’re stuck in the same mediocre job or just life in general.
What can you do if you suffer from fear of failure?
It can be hard to burst the fear bubble.
But what you can do is start by making small steps in order to get closer to your goals. The closer you get, and that great sense of achievement, may just help push the pin all the way through to freedom.
We can let fear run our lives – or we can choose to run our own lives. We can choose to look for the lessons we learn from them. If you make a mistake, you are less likely to make it again. Mistakes make us human, and besides, no one is perfect.
Failures only stop us if we let them.
How many chances have you missed, and will you miss, by not doing what you want to do?
You can sit at home, in the dark every day for the rest of your life. Or you can go out and try. You make fall 1000 times. But won’t it be worth it when you fly? Fly through life, freedom, success, happiness.
We can learn from our mistakes, and other peoples mistakes.
Failing at something doesn’t always mean new opportunities. They also teach us lessons about ourselves, who our friends really are and just how capable we are.
What things can you do to overcome these fears and push through?
It’s all well and good saying, “yeah lets do this!”. But it’s never as easy as it seems. Some days you can be pumped with motivation, then it all plummets and your back to square one on others.
Here are a few things that can help with that plummeting moment and help keep the momentum going.
You can do this.
Be clear about what you want
Sometimes it can be hard to see your goal clearly through the fog of fear. Sit down and really think about your goal and what you want to achieve. Fear of failure can be emotional, so focusing on your end goal can really help stabilise you and provide you with a better stance to achieve your goal. Your mission should be more important than the fear or judgement of others.
Understand your weaknesses
What is the ultimate fear attached to your goal? What are you so petrified about, that has the power to stop you from going after your dreams?
Are you afraid you’ll lose friends? Are you afraid of criticism?
Understanding what you are afraid of can help you overcome it. Be completely honest with yourself.
Do you really need their approval? Most of the time, people are only critical because they lack something within themselves and are projecting it onto you.
Understand your why
I have read this in so many articles and I just didn’t get it at first, didn’t do it and didn’t understand it. But by really digging deep and thinking about why you want to achieve something, creates an emotional connection to it. It reinforces why you started in the first place and also gives you more reason to forget about what other people might think.
Don’t overthink it
Think about it, lots. Plan lots. Do what you need to do. But stop over-thinking and over-analysing the cons. You will naturally drive whatever you’re doing into the ground before you even start.
Write down your goals and what you have to do to achieve them. This gives you a clear idea of what you want and what you are aiming for. What you need to do to achieve this. This way you are setting yourself up and know you are doing the right thing. It also reminds you WHY you are doing this and gives you milestones to work towards.
Start off small
Once you’ve planned out what you want to achieve and are clear on exactly how you are going to get there, break it up into a timeline and focus on the next thing you need to do, nothing else.
Once you’ve achieved that, you’ll have an amazing plan to refer back to in order to know the next step. This stops it seeming so overwhelming and you also keep the rewards of all your small achievements along the way. It can be really motivating.
Keep a log of failures and what you can do better next time, how you can improve, why this doesn’t matter right now, what you have learnt from the experience.
This will come in handy for the future. Teach and share your experiences with other people. You never know how many people are in the same boat as you until you open yourself up.
How to reduce your fears of failure
There is no quick fix or solution. But there are choices you can make to achieve positive changes.
I can promise you, by making small changes, you will live a more fulfilling, rewarding life.
Some times you have to take a step back before making 2 steps forward.
Fear of the unknown
Not knowing what could happen could be causing you serious anxiety.
In order to reduce this factor – analyse the potential outcomes.
Look at what could happen and visualise it. It might aid in setting your expectations, and how to handle the situation if it does go down south.
I personally like to write things down. This makes them clear in my head as I easily forget. But I can’t always remember my back up plan.
Sometimes you have to just walk into a situation, head held high, take a deep breath and go for it. What’s the worse that could happen? (And if it’s super bad….. is it the end of the world?)
Change your thoughts and add a positive perspective.
Be excited for the challenge and don’t underestimate yourself.
Put all your effort into it and don’t self-sabotage yourself. If you make a mistake, what can you learn from this?
What is the worse case scenario?
Honestly, what is the worse that can happen?
We like to imagine the worse case scenario, when the chances of it actually happening are slim.
Distinguish between the real and the imagined threats.
In some cases, it may be real bad. But will it be worth it? Most of the time we are actually just undermining our abilities to do great things.
We believe we are going to fail, so we self-sabotage ourselves.
On the other hand, the worse case scenario, when you actually think about it, may not be as bad as you originally thought.
What do you want to achieve?
What do you need to do to get there?
Break up your goals into realistic, bite sized chunks.
This means you can track your progress and feel a sense of achievement when you can see yourself getting closer.
Be clear of the end goal, but don’t focus on it. Focus on the next step you need to take and how you can achieve it. Then move onto the next, and so on.
Forget about them
Forget about your friends, family, colleagues, school friends, facebook friends, next door neighbours, cousins, aunties, friends of friends of friends.
Just for a second.
If they weren’t in the picture, would you put yourself out there?
Sometimes it’s a person, or group of people (or people in general) that scare us. We are scared of being judged, being hated for saying something controversial, or just saying anything at all.
If this is the case; take a step back. What do they bring into your life? Shouldn’t they be supporting you, rather than stopping you?
Focus on you for a change. What you want to achieve. Focus on the moment and remember that life is too short to be worrying about what other people think of you. Why are you letting them decide your future?
Surround yourself with the people who support you and your decisions. Focus on the moment and your goals. Other people’s opinions will start to become less important.
Be open to the thought of failure
Sometimes, your fear of failure can be due to a serious, underlying issue. These tips are just from my experience. If you are truly suffering, it might be worth speaking to a GP or counsellor for further help.
Don’t let your fear of failure, or fear of other peoples ignorance get in the way of YOUR LIFE.
What have you been too scared to do due to fear of failure?