5 Easy Ways To Overcome The Fear Of Failure

It is very natural to experience some level of fear whenever we embark on a new venture or try something for the first time. The thought of taking a chance and failing prevents so many of us from going for what we want.

If we don’t address our fear of failure, it can:

  • Cause us to feel stuck in life.
  • Affect our confidence, both short-term and long-term.
  • Prevent us from creating the experiences or results we want in life.
  • Influence our thoughts, emotions and behaviours.

The fear of failure does not have to take control of what we are willing or not willing to do.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A number of years ago, when I started my speaking and training business, one thing I wanted to do was to offer my programs to teams within companies. At that time, I did not have a track record of corporate clients plus I did not have success stories of clients who benefited from my programs.

The fear of not being good enough to do corporate training and the fear of failing in front of working professionals kept me stuck for a long time. I held myself back from contacting businesses, whether in person or via the phone. Over time, I started applying the things mentioned below and soon enough, my confidence grew and I eventually succeeded in getting my first corporate client, a real estate company. I was able to deliver a 10-week program to their team, which not only helped their team but also confirmed that I could offer corporate training programs.

It’s time to let go of the fear of failure. It doesn’t have to take years to overcome, like it did for me to offer corporate training programs. Here are five simple ways to overcome the fear of failure so that you can do the things you want, make a bigger difference and enjoy a happier, fulfilled life.

  1. Change your mindset about failure. Failure is often part of the process toward success. Whenever we fail, it is just a form of feedback. If we can change our mindset and recognise that with every failure, comes an opportunity to either do something differently or do something better.

    Whenever we have the perception of failure, a way to turn it around is to ask these three powerful questions:

    • What lesson can I learn from this experience?
    • What was the opportunity in this experience?
    • What will I do differently now as a result of this experience?
  2. Be emotionally involved with what you want. This is about having something greater than your fear. We all need something worth fighting for that is bigger and more important than our fear of failure. Being emotionally connected to the outcome we want is what will make us take the necessary actions to achieve that outcome.
  3. Train yourself to imagine positive outcomes rather than negative outcomes. Oftentimes, fear is a result of imagining a negative consequence, whether it is a loss of something, the pain of doing what’s required, or the thought that if we achieve the thing we want, it won’t be as good as what we thought it would be.

    Fear comes up when we ask a “what if” question followed by a negative statement. Instead, train yourself to ask “what if” followed by a positive statement.

  4. Do your research or be prepared. Fear of failure can also come up when we don’t know something or have not prepared adequately. This is where we can:
    • Anticipate challenges or obstacles before they come up and have strategies to overcome them.
    • Ask someone who has done what we want to do and leverage their knowledge and experience.
    • Invest in learning what we need to in order to achieve what we want.
  5. Remember experiences where you have overcome fear. We’ve all done things that at one time, may have been fearful or scary to us. But somehow we survived! Those experiences can be stepping stones toward our next challenges.

    One practical way to do this is to create a list of successes you’ve had in life and before starting something new, read that list of successes. If you’ve already had so many successes in life, then there is no reason why you cannot succeed again, provided you are taking the right actions and making adjustments as required.

Fear of failure is often as an excuse not to challenge ourselves and go for what we really want. By applying these simple ideas, we will be able to deal with anything that comes up as we do something new and also give ourselves the opportunity to learn and grow during the process.

Action Step: If you have been holding yourself back from doing something because of the fear of failure, start applying these ideas, starting with changing your mindset about failure. Go through the three questions as a starting point then continue working through all the suggested ideas.

Question: What is another way to overcome the fear of failure?

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  • Jane Ransom

    It still amazes me how powerful it is in a workshop to have my participants make and share a list of successes. Immediately ups their confidence and energy. Right on, Neel!

    • Neel Raman

      Yep, recalling successes is way more helpful than remembering times when we have failed. But they both are necessary for our own development. Thank you Jane! 🙂