We all have things that freak us out and lead us into hiding. Since forever, people have been trying to overcome the fear of failure and the feelings associated with it.
But it’s hard. Sometimes it can feel like a never-ending cycle. It can lead us to feel sorry for ourselves and halt the progress we desire.
Fear of failure is a problem right across our society. We all want to overcome the fear of failure. The secrets in doing so have become a hot topic in many personal growth programs and self-development courses. Fear of failure stops so many of us from doing so much. It leaves people completely helpless, afraid and stuck living a status quo kinda life.
According to Business Insider, more than 39% of people in Australia would not start a new business, citing fear of failure as the reason.
Some 40% of people are afraid to start a new business or flex their entrepreneurial muscle all because of fear! It’s not just business though that experiences this phenomenon – we all do at one time or another.
Our personal growth, career advancement, and relational development suffer when we fail to overcome our fear of failure. Fear takes hold and keeps us locked into the lie that we’ll never be able to face and overcome the things that hold us back.
Fear of failing is a complex beast that can only be overcome methodically and with a plan.
Here are 5 steps to overcome the fear of failure once and for all
#1 – Understand that everyone – yes everyone – has a fear of failure to some degree
Yep, even the most successful people at one time or another have debilitating fears. The secret is they’ve learnt to act in spite of the fear. We’re all are pre-programmed to believe we should be able to get ‘it’ right on our first attempt. When we fear that we won’t get it right, the effect causes us to not even act. We think that if we stuff up it reflects on us somehow and reveals a flaw in our character or personality. And so, we think it through in our mind and decide that it won’t work. We stop and shrivel back into ourselves. Knowing that people all around us are struggling with the same issue provides us with a sense of community and understanding.
#2 – Recognise what the fear feels like and sounds like in any given situation
Our bodies, brains and emotions are powerful indicators of what’s happening around us. Take a moment to understand how the fear of failure makes your body react at any particular time.Does your heart race a little faster? Or your palms get sweaty? Or do you feel light-headed? These physical symptoms can indicate a fear of failure. Remember, fear can be a powerful driver that plays havoc on our subconscious. Fear stops us from even having a go.
Understanding the self-talk we have when faced with a situation can also be important. Maybe you start to feel down or even apathetic toward the future. Or maybe you start to tell yourself that you’ll never succeed or never achieve or never be any good. All these voices and negative self-talk can actually cause us to not even move, and we let the voices win. Learn to recognise what fear feels like for you, and then you can face it head on.
#3 – Overcome the fear of failure by sharing with a trusted friend
I’m a huge advocate for overcoming any challenge in a communal way. Often we feel stuck in our fears because we feel alone. We are unable to share our concerns and worries with anyone. Yet when we do share our fears and worries, no longer does the fear and shame have power over us. It’s been brought into the light and you will be able to see it for what it is: a lie.
Psychology Today suggest that you “find trusted others with whom you can discuss these feelings. Bringing these feelings to the surface can help prevent you from expressing them through unconscious efforts to sabotage yourself, and getting reassurance and empathy from trusted others can bolster your feelings of self-worth while minimizing the threat of disappointing them.”
Once we verbalise what we’re struggling with, we take a huge step toward dealing with it. Sharing your fear and getting support from key friends is an important step in the process.
#4 – Replace the lies with truth and face your fear in a small way
Now that you’ve shared it with your friend, it’s time to face the fear…in a small way. So talk through where the fear of failure occurs most, then consider where and how you can face this fear head on. Keep in mind that as you do this you will most likely be feeling all the symptoms we discussed earlier, and that’s ok.
Let’s say for example you’re freaking out about a presentation at work. Your palms are getting sweaty and your self-talk is destroying you. Take a moment of silence and time alone (literally 1-2 minutes) and breath. Whispering to yourself truths that replace the lies your mind is telling you.
You can also close your eyes and visualise (picture in your mind) the activity you’re about to do going well. Visualise yourself doing great in your presentation and it being well received.
In this moment you have overcome the fear of failure. The negative self-talk with truths related to your specific situation. You are also realising that you can do this and you are overcoming your fear.
#5 – Debrief what happened then do it again
After you’ve faced your fear, you’re one step closer to overcoming the fear of failure and the disastrous side-effects. Share with your friend or network how you went. Don’t sugar coat the feedback, but be completely honest and open with how you went. Discuss how you will build on this ‘win’ to take further steps toward overcoming the fear in the future.
Fear is normal, but it doesn’t have power over us. We can control it and beat it.
The thing about the fear of failure is that most times it doesn’t have the negative consequences we believe it would. When we learn to push through and overcome the fear of failure, we discover our fears aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
Succumbing to our fears come at the cost of personal progress. When we dwell on what is holding us back, we forego walking into the wonderful future we desire.
Next time you feel that wave of fear come over you, stop and give it some focused attention. Determine if the outcomes you’re imagining from the fear would even take place.
Most likely you’ll discover they won’t.
Decide to overcome the fear of failure and go for it!