When talking about goals, about dreams, and about life, it is easy to feel a bit daunted. It is often viewed as easy to give up on a goal in favour of maintaining the status quo simply because we worry about the cost of failure. Over our life, this worry slowly develops into a fear. Partly due to it being normalised in our society to fear failure, but also because we remember how it feels to fail.
Sometimes we fear failure so much that we no longer try to succeed.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently as I look onwards to some important interviews in the week. I’ve always feared my poor performance in interviews and it has become more and more apparent that this fear is the cause of the problems I have during the interviews. As I have grown, matured, and expanded my knowledge, my actual ability to perform well in interviews has drastically increased. Due also to having now done several in my life. The fear of the unknown might no longer be a thing but the fear of failure is.
The fear of failure extends to more than just interviewing, however. Even when attempting the most basic of tasks you can be crippled by the fear of failure. From taking part in social activities to applying oneself at work, the fear can strike different people at different times. And we have all felt it. The trick is learning how to overcome it.
Here I will share with you 5 tips I have learnt to overcome your fear of failure. I hope they can as useful to you as they are to me in the coming week.
1) Do your research.
It’s important to do your research when you face a task which you are worried about. Learn as much as you can in order to limit the number of unknowns that could occur. In doing so, you will become more confident in your ability to perform in the given task. If you have a job interview, this might mean finding out information about the company you are applying to work for, searching on YouTube for helpful interview tips, and rehearsing common interview questions.
Be wary, however, not to do so much research that you never get around to actually performing the task. Do not let the excuse of not having researched enough prevent you from taking action.
2) Take a look at those worst-case scenarios.
You may initially think that this is counter-productive, but it really isn’t. In fact, thinking about possible scenarios where you do “fail” can be incredibly helpful in not failing! Why? Because answering the “what if” questions with thought out answers means that you can have a plan for just in case things go sideways. You’ll end up being less worried about failing if you have a plan to deal with that failure. Once again, this is the fear of the unknown being minimised.
Not having to worry about the negative outcomes of your action because you have a plan in place can alleviate a lot of the stress people feel when performing important tasks.
3) Consider the price of inaction.
This is a pretty big one that some people don’t think about at all when being consumed by the fear of failure. What will happen if you do nothing? How will you feel? A good example of this might be a job interview. If you don’t go for it, you won’t get that increase to your salary – which you might need for all sorts of things – and you might end up resenting your current job for locking you into it. There are many variables to consider when thinking about what will happen from your inaction and it is worth writing them down so you can see the list of reasons why you should take action and not just leave it.
4) Trim back the pressure.
Sometimes the fear of failure can occur but of what you are actually focusing on. Whilst the end goal might be to get the job, if you can decide that success is actually gaining experience from the interview you’ll find yourself under a lot less pressure as the goal is easier to secure. If you are under less pressure you will perform better and have a better chance of getting the job. Or having a good time at that party, or getting the boy/girl of your dreams.
In the end, you need to focus on the experience as it is worth more than the output in many cases. It will prepare you better for future endeavours if it doesn’t work out then thinking solely about the cost of failure. And it is much harder to fail when aiming for an experience.
5) Build self-confidence and mindfulness.
With self-confidence anything is possible, or so they say. The truth is that people make mistakes. Many, many mistakes. But those mistakes don’t define who they are. It is your reaction to these mistakes that can build self-confidence. Be your own spin doctor and shed your failures in a positive light (whilst remembering to stay level-headed). This way you will be concerned less about the failures. A good way to build self-confidence is to find your strengths and play to them. Acknowledge your achievements. It is easy to forget about these things when you are stressing about and fearing failure. Make a list if it helps.
What is another good way to maintain self-confidence and not succumb to the fear of failure? Why mindfulness of course! Staying in the present will enable you to worry less about the many possible future scenarios and perform better in a myriad of situations. Read more about the benefits of mindfulness, and how to do it, in this article.
Hopefully, these tips will enable you to bring a more considered approach to the task at hand and help quell any fear of failure you might have. It is natural to worry about the future, it is a biological response to stress. But it should not consume us. Practice these 5 tips in order to mitigate your fear of failure.
Have you ever had a fear of failure? How did it affect you and what steps, if any, did you take to minimise it? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,
6 thoughts on “5 tips to overcome your fear of failure”
Such an awesome and amazing read! Sometimes, I get stuck on failing too but I know you got to work hard to strive.
I’m glad you pointed out the cost of taking no action. Sometimes that can be the best motivator. Nice list.
Thank you, I agree with you that it can be a powerful motivator, and the real reason we tend to do anything!
Fear of failure was a big thing for me for many years, to the point where i’d hold back in certain aspects to protect my ego. The whole, if I excel while holding back it makes me look amazing and failing while holding back takes the sting away. The first time I had to face it was when I failed my karate promotion exam after giving it my all. I would then fail promotion exam two more times during my time at that dojo, but it helped me get over my fear of failure. Now I embrace it in the sense that I enthusiastically try new things even if I know ill be bad at it in the beginning.
Thanks for your comment and thank you for sharing your story too! Going into things with excitement and enthusiastically is the best way to avoid any buildup of fear and will ultimately help you reach your goals!
Awesome article! Thank you for sharing! In order for us to be able to succeed, we MUST face our fears and this article was spot on! I know I have had to do this recently…