A while back it occurred to me that people are either more afraid of failure or more afraid of success, and that overwhelmingly people are suffering from fear of failure. I’d even go as far to say most people are paralyzed by their fear of failure. So, let’s talk about how to overcome fear of failure.
Paralysis by way of fear
We hear from people often that they want to make a change in their life – they need to eat better for health reasons or to lose weight. We also hear from you guys that you want to change course, make a career change, pursue a dream. Often, we can hear the passion behind people’s desires, and the next thing to follow is some form of “but what if I fail”. And that, my friends, stops the vast majority of people before they ever get started.
I see paralysis by way of fear living out as people playing small, doing what they “should” do versus what they really dream about doing, often feeling stuck. I also see it as a lot of settling and justifying not being where they really want to be with other excuses. But why? All because of being afraid to fail. So how do you overcome fear of failure then? First, let’s go back a bit and consider another way.
Let’s go back
Think about a toddler learning to walk. They learn to stand, and on wobbly legs they fall back down to the ground. We applaud them for standing up, and encourage them to get back up and try again. And they do…over and over again. They keep getting back up time and time again. They keep falling time and time again. We keep cheering them on. Eventually they take that first step and then progress to walking. It takes many, many failures before even that first step is taken, and then many more to be able to successfully walk across a room. All the while, the adults in the room are applauding, cheering and excited for the little one.
THIS is how we should approach all of life. Failure is inevitable. It just is, and I’m not sure when or why it starts to become a bad thing. What I do know is we have it right with toddlers, and we should carry that forward into our adult lives – cheering and supporting one another along as we learn new skills and become the people we are meant to be. Little ones just know how to fail, be resilient and get back up. They know that to achieve, they have to fall down first. It is just a setback, a bump in the road. No more, no less. We all need to reconnect with our inner toddler to overcome fear of failure.
Nobody is an expert on day one
If you want to continually improve, and we hope you do, you are automatically setting yourself up for some failures. Why? Because when you continue to push yourself and become better and better every day, you are forced to get outside your comfort zone and learn new things. And learning new things is hard. Nobody shows up on day one of learning something new as an expert. You have to take the time to learn, practice, fail and get back up. Learn some more, practice more, fail more, and get back up. It’s a cycle. And really, I just view failing as part of the learning. I take away whatever I can from the experience, apply it going forward and trust that I am in fact growing and becoming a better human because of it.
So, get over yourself already
I mean that in the nicest, tough love kind of way. Promise. We are all in this together, and really nobody else is nearly as concerned with your failures as you are. And if you surround yourself with the right people, they’ll even cheer you on, applaud your efforts and be there to help you get back up when you need it.
Tips for getting over fear of failure
If you aren’t failing at all in your life, you’re living too safely. You’re playing small and letting the real you, the person you are meant to be, sit it out on the bench. So, start taking some risks, start learning new things and start becoming the force you are meant to be. The world needs more people chasing their dreams and living out loud. So, here are some tips to overcome fear of failure.
- Get the fears out of your system – think about or even write down your fears for any given situation; go as far as calling out the worst case scenario. Take it further by writing down how you could prevent each fear from playing out if possible, and if it’s not possible to prevent, think about how you could recover from the setback if it did happen. Now you have a plan that should give you some reassurance and take a little weight out of any fears you have. You’ll also see that many of your fears aren’t as scary as you thought they were when they were just in your head.
- Reprogram your thinking and focus on learning – have a mindset of always being a student, and learn as much as you can from every experience. Even if you fail sometimes, you will learn so much and apply it to the next adventure. Over time you’ll actually start to feel grateful for your misgivings and appreciate how they’ve helped you get where you are. Try adding some positive affirmations into your day to help you have a learning mindset – this post has tips for creating your own statements.
- Do it anyway – fear is a cue that you really care about whatever you are considering pursuing. That is a good thing. It’s ok to be scared or nervous. Do it anyway. Living with the wonder and regret of having never tried is far greater of a price to pay than having to get over a potential failure…one that may not even happen. So, acknowledge your fear and do it anyway!
Take one step today to overcome fear of failure
Start being more like a toddler – keep trying new things and keep learning as you go. When you fall, get back up and try again. We hope these tips are helpful and inspire you to start using your fear as a tool and a guide to move you along your journey rather than stall out completely. Leave a comment below, and let us know if this helpful. Tell us about how you’re going to overcome your fear of failure, starting today! Also, if you liked this post, make sure to share it! You can tag us in a post with your progress on Instagram @realsimplegood and #TheRSGLife. We can’t wait to see you chase your dreams and play big!
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