It’s inevitable: we’re all going to fail at something we attempt to do at one time or another. You may not make the high school basketball team or perhaps you’ve tried to get a job in a certain industry and just can’t seem to break down the door. Whatever the situation, for many people this failure evolves into a fear of trying.
Here’s how not to let fear get the better of you.
Anyone that’s afraid of failing should think twice before venturing into the world of entrepreneurship, because any entrepreneur will tell you that you that in order to be successful, you’re going to have to take a lot of risks and test your limits, which is what I do at Finder.com.au on a daily basis.
The first step to overcoming your fear is to understand what failure means to you. Each individual will have their own personal definition of failure – what one person thinks of as failing another might deem a learning experience. Most of us will have some level of fear about failing, but it’s when this fear stops us from achieving our goals that it becomes a big problem.
There are many reasons that a person may develop a fear of failure. For example, unsupportive parents or a traumatic experience may cause someone to develop this. Here are some of the key ways a fear of failure will manifest itself:
- A reluctance to attempt new projects or try new things;
- Continuously self-sabotage, in the form of procrastination, failing to follow through with set goals, and being excessively anxious;
- Low self-confidence and the frequent use of negative statements; and
- You only try things that you know you will be able to finish successfully and perfectly.
Overcoming your fear
The most important thing to realise is that no matter what you do, there’s always going to be a chance that you will fail in some aspect. Facing the fear of failing and embracing it will lead you to live a much more rewarding life.
While overcoming fear is difficult, it’s something worth doing and there are some steps that you can take in order to help reduce the effect this fear has on you.
- First, analyse any potential outcome. Many people simply fear the unknown. Make a list of all of the potential outcomes of making a certain decision, as this will take away the fear of the unknown as it will all be laid out in front of you. You can also look at the absolute worst case scenario. In some cases it may be that the worst case scenario could be devastating. However, there are cases where even if the worst happens it really will not be that bad.
- Next, think positive! It is amazing how far a little positive thinking can take you. Learn how to change your thoughts so that you develop self-confidence and reduce the self-sabotaging behaviours. Simply learning to drop the negative attitude can help you achieve the goals that you may have been putting off because of your fear of failure.
The final thing that you need to do to overcome your fear of failing is to set some solid goals. You will want to start with something small – these goals should challenge you, but not be totally overwhelming. They’re are designed to give you some early wins in order to boost your confidence.
Try to make the small goals a tiny step towards one of your bigger goals. For example, if you have not yet talked to the new head of your department, who could offer you the promotion that you are looking for, make this your first goal. You do not have to ask for the promotion, but simply stop by his or her office and introduce yourself. If you have been wanting to go back to school, but avoiding it because you do not think that you can get into the school of your choice, make it a goal to meet with an admissions officer and find out what is expected for admittance to the school.
Overall, the best way to overcome fear is to take baby steps. Start with small goals and move up as your confidence level goes up.