How to Overcome Fear of Failure

Okay, so my last post talked about coping with the fear of success, which is all too real despite the irony that correlates the two entities. Today, I’m going to discuss techniques to help you overcome fear of failure, as it’s much more of an obstacle than fearing success.

While those afraid of their own success worry about how their life will change, even if such change is for the better, many of us refuse to embark on our journey because we’re afraid to flame out. And failures happen all the time; or do they?

We’re told that to accomplish something in life, we have to be world-class at our chosen craft and must face an unproven fact that only a few succeed and most fail. The people telling us this are usually parents, peers, friends, and co-workers, where it’s likely none of them have the slightest qualification in studying such a subject as who succeeds and who doesn’t, if such a subject even exists.

Now, it may be true that setbacks often happen more than success, but setbacks aren’t failures; nor are obstacles. But what happens when we hit an obstacle and say, society knows about it?

In their eyes, we failed, even if we didn’t fail at all. We discovered what didn’t work, and for that, we should be grateful.

Sadly, such setbacks and obstacles become permanent, especially if one faces them too many times.

So what happens?

We give up.

Or worse.

We saw what happened to a friend or peer, and to avoid “failure” ourselves, we simply refuse to try.

 

If We Don’t Try, We Can’t Fail, Right

Um, no, you actually failed before you even started.

Why?

Because you had a dream or an ambition in mind, and it’s highly likely you told a few people about it.

You were going to be this awesome internet marketer who lived the laptop lifestyle by thirty, but when you hit thirty, you still had a day job and not a single website because a co-worker told you about their bad experience, or perhaps a friend or relative of a co-worker had a bad experience and the co-worker relayed it to you.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this, right? We might be a little open about ambition, but someone talks us out of it because of either theirs or someone close to them’s bad experience.

And of course, their advice to you is to, “neither get your hopes up,” or “not to waste your time.”

So, we simply refuse to try because we can’t fail if we try.

Again, wrong!

 

Fine Attempt In Learning

As I stated earlier, you failed by refusing to give yourself a chance. Failure means giving up on something permanently. Therefore, failure can be rare, if you start treating supposed “failures” as setbacks, obstacles, or learning experiences than throwing in the towel when something goes to hell and back.

Instead, think of such ‘failure’ as a Fine Attempt In Learning, or if you failed at something for the first time, a First Attempt In Learning.

That’s all actual failure really is.

I blogged often before joining Wealthy Affiliate, with the dream of living the laptop lifestyle. Not a single blog did well mainly because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing; I knew I could write, but I knew nothing about a niche market, let alone SEO, keywords, or any of the so-called tech stuff that really isn’t all that complicated if you take the time to learn it.

So, had I given up then for good, failure occurs. But just because the first few blogs didn’t work didn’t mean I failed. I learned. In other words I had a few F.A.I.L experiences, knowing that what I was doing wasn’t working, so perhaps I needed to learn from the experts (thanks, Kyle and Carson).

My only regret was not joining WA sooner because if I had, perhaps I’d be even further ahead than I am today. At least over at The Helmet and Jersey Stop.

So, I plunged ahead.

Offline, things went to hell for me in personal training, having driven forty-five minutes to an hour to and from work daily put massive wear and tear on my still relatively new car. But with an apartment and bills to pay, I made the same amount of money as I did when I trained locally, but now I was netting less money to the point I barely sustained myself.

I left the industry and worked some side jobs, none of which I truly admired, but you have to pay the bills.

Then, I decided to start gaining my training credentials back, but this time, why not learn from the best in the business?

What if I just decided to give up both my online and offline endeavors?

I’d be working in a freaking factory or warehouse instead of typing this. Because if I didn’t try, I won’t fail, and I’ll just settle, right?

No, I hate to break it to you, but that’s failure, people. For the rest of us who learn from our Fine Attempt In Learning and pick ourselves back up, we’re on the path to success, as rocky as the path may be.

 

Other Fears

We’re fearing the unknown when we embark on our own journey, especially from a career standpoint.

What is the biggest cause for fear of failure?

Well, when we decide to take that leap, it’s a plunge into the unknown. It’s like being on an island in the middle of the sea where conditions aren’t ideal and there’s a ship far off anchored in the horizon whose inhabitants belong to some paradise island somewhere beyond.

We want to join them and their awesome life, escaping the conditions we grew comfortable with when on the less than ideal island, which friends and family also inhabit. But you want better things, so you long for the ship that’s a couple miles out there, knowing that if you reach it, the ship’s inhabitants might think you’re stranded and will take you aboard and back to their homeland.

But what if the ship sets sail and you’re in the middle of the ocean?

What if the waters are shark infested?

What if you cramp up or suffer some horrific sudden cardiac death and there’s no one between it or you for the next mile?

It’s fear of the unknown because it’s so easy to simply fail and give up, or not try at all.

Fearing failure, you sit back while your friends or a family member state how lucky the people on that ship are. Two hours later, the ship sails away.

You seethe because you know you could’ve been on it.

You should’ve gone, but fear of failure stopped you.

How do you cope with this scenario?

You need to start by identifying moments when you fill that fear begin to creep up. We all have set patterns in life, and when we’re in a set pattern, fear creeps in and tells us that our lives might change for the worse, or we might lose control.

 

Fear is a Liar

Well, fear’s a liar because it guarantees you phantom control over your life, when in actuality, it’s fear that’s controlling you. You might feel like you’re in control, but instead, you’re under control.

It’s just like those friends, family, or co-workers who talk, or fear monger you into refusing to take on a certain endeavor. You might feel as if you made the choice, but they, combined with fear, made the choice for you. The choice wasn’t yours, but when this happens, we convince ourselves that we made the choice.

However, you were influenced and it wasn’t you, it was the fear of failure, combined with reinforcement from those around you, who ultimately influenced your decision. People can make decisions for other people and as a personal trainer, I can attest when it comes to whether a client is going to purchase training.

Were clients fearful of training?

No.

But they were fearful of putting in a lot of work with nothing to show, which is never true as if one is on point with a healthy lifestyle, they’re going to succeed in it.

They were afraid of what their spouses or partners would think, especially when forking out the high cost of training sessions. They were afraid of telling their friends ‘no’ if invited to go out and party every weekend. Clients were afraid that, and this kind of BS does happen, that they would lose their social network if they made positive changes in their lives and saw positive results.

But if they did fail, then they were really in trouble with the spouse or partner, or their friends may’ve gone, “We told you so.”

But what stopped them from even pursuing?

Fear. Fear and outside sources made the decision for them. They didn’t make their own decisions, and when it comes to whether you should Ditch Corporate America to pursue your own career dreams and goals, don’t let fear make your decisions.

Identify moments when fear is lying to you, as identification is the first step to omitting such fears from the mind.

 

Techniques to Pursue

You’ve hold the old saying to, “Do one thing a day that scares you.”

Well, do it.

Online or offline, just do it. One thing each day, even if it’s the same thing or activity until such an activity doesn’t scare you anymore. Expose yourself to what you’re afraid of.

When I was young, I was afraid of storms. These days, I’m the opposite. Why? Because I told myself enough was enough, so I identified the fear, and took the appropriate steps, which is basically exposure, to end it. Ditto for the dark.

So, technique one is to simply expose yourself to the fear and no, you don’t need to do this in a fast manner. Slowly doing so will help. Say you want to be an internet marketer but you’re afraid of failing because you don’t even know where to begin.

Well, take one day and research the field.

Start a free website on the SiteRubix Platform and get a Free Starter Membership at Wealthy Affiliate (no card required).

Or, what if you wanted to pursue an active lifestyle?

Walk around the block. Jog around the block. Run around the block. Visit a gym and maybe workout for a day. Talk to one of the trainers there or talk to maybe one other person. Join the gym. Then join a group class. Soon, the fear will edge away.

Exposure therapy, while it might sound scary, is very helpful. A good way to approach this is to do so with a friend who really does believe in your endeavor.

 

Conclusion

Long article, I know, and I rambled far longer than I planned. However, I couldn’t be more real that such fear, especially when it comes to failure, resides within all of us. What do we have to do?

Remember that refusing to try always equals failure.

Most “failures” aren’t failures at all, but is a Fine Attempt In Learning.

Fear controls us, and if we succumb to it, we may feel as if we’re in control, but in reality, we’re not in control of our lives. The same goes for negative influences from others.

Finally, to face fear, one must simply expose themselves to it and do so often. Have a partner system in place so you won’t have to go at this alone.

Now, face your fears and punch failure in the face.

12 comments

  1. I really like your site. It has a great design, a great feel, and a great message, Fear of failure is something that everybody deals with, but I never really noticed that fear of success also messed with people. Is it caused by fear of change? This is super interesting to me I never really thought that fear of success was a thing until now.

    1. Thanks for those awesome words, Marlo! Fear of success will mess with us, and even myself, as though we’re successful, how much of our life is going to change, and who did we have in our life that is soon to be phased out. The thought of the unknown is a scary process. Definitely caused by fear of change, even if such change is good change. 

  2. I really enjoy reading your articles as you offer some pretty useful insights within them. I have personally overcome the fear of failure by doing just 2 things.

    First of all, I have realized that failure is part of success. You can never succeed with one shot. You have to fail, realize what you did wrong, correct it and then fail some more and start again from the top.

    Secondly, I never stop acting. I have noticed that fear of failure rises when I have the time to think about it. So, once I start thinking about failure, I just distract myself by acting towards achieving my goals.

    Hopefully, this helps someone 🙂

    1. Boom! Harry, you’re on the right track, Sir. Failure is definitely part of success. I think Michael Jordan once stated he has been so successful in life because he failed so much. In other words, failing breeds success, if one remains persistent. And yeah, buddy, never stop acting, and remain persistent. Those that stop will become complacent in a job until they bitch about management, their own supervisors, their life’s circumstances, the whole nine negative yards. B freaking S. Keep acting, and in five years, you will thank yourself. 

  3. Hi Todd

    Fear can be debilitating as it can stop us from making the right decision or any decision at all. I always say in order to succeed you need to understand what failure is. The more mistakes we make, the more lessons that will be learnt and the more success we will have in the future. The question is  as we fear failing for ourselves or because we are letting others down. I think both situations are just as bad as each other.

    I think this is where character comes in, as character tells others what you really are.

    Thanks

    Antonio

    1. Nice tip, Antonio. Yes, we do learn with mistakes, as with mistakes comes experience. I made some beyond stupid mistakes from a business standpoint that I thought would work but…..ugh, no dice, I crashed and burned faster than a racecar barrel rolling into a catchfence. But, from those learning experiences comes some success. Small victories at first in the comeback to really, really big ones down the road. It’s all about failing, learning, and staying persistent. Never give in to those goals or the proles telling you it’s impossible. 

  4. Wow. This post was spot on for me. I am afraid of failure on so many levels but I agree with you that FEAR IS A LIAR! I refuse to live in fear any longer. I want more for myself and I don’t want small-minded people to tell me my dreams are too big. I call BS. How long did it take you to face fear head-on? How long did it take you to build your dream and ditch corporate America?

  5. Many individuals gives failure chance to keep them down, not knowing that failure can be something to be thankful for! Fear of failure keeps numerous individuals from following their dreams or having a go at something new. Fear of failure is failure in itself because it keeps a significant number of would-be success stories. Aweseome post you’ve got here Todd.

    Regards

    1. Failure can be something to be very thankful for. We tried something! And that alone should be a victory, even if there’s no reward. If we all smashed down the door when facing failure, I can tell you right now we would all be more than better off and a lot happier as well. 

  6. Wow. This post was spot on for me. I am afraid of failure on so many levels but I agree with you that FEAR IS A LIAR! I refuse to live in fear any longer. I want more for myself and I don’t want small-minded people to tell me my dreams are too big. I call BS. How long did it take you to face fear head-on? How long did it take you to build your dream and ditch corporate America?

    1. Thanks, Meghan, and yes, do one thing per day that frightens you and soon you’ll see positive change. And never, never, ever listen to small-minded people. The ignorance these people display is disgusting and it’s nothing more than they wanting to keep you at their (usually negative) level. I don’t give a flying f*ck if it’s a parent, grandparent, sibling, spouse, or even a best friend. Never listen to them.

      I’m still a work in progress when it comes to facing fear head-on, being that I haven’t gotten over my agoraphobic nature, but steps are being taken. In past experiences, it surprisingly didn’t take me long, considering I maintained persistency.

      To build my dream? 

      Not long. Took me a total of five months to realize I didn’t want anything to do with Corporate America. 

    2. Fear is a gigantic liar, I can tell you that. Facing and conquering fear comes in steps, so I’ll face a little here, a little there, and before I know it the fear is gone. It takes time to build the dream and I mean time, as in a few years, but something I’ve found out along the way is that persistency builds; you’ll never be stuck in a stalemate if you continue to move forward and remain consistent.

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