How to overcome the fear of failure

One of the most common issues that I discuss with my clients is how to overcome the fear of failure. When we work through reasons why they either gave up on their goals or, worse still, never even started the fear of failing comes up over and over again.

Fear of failure can be a bit of a chameleon and can disguise itself in many ways. Have you ever thought any of the following:-

“What’s the point? I’m just going to fail again”

“I’m just going to disappoint everyone”

“I know what I’m like…”

“There is no point even trying…”

Or it might appear as a resigned shrug of the shoulders that just says

“It’s just me – I just can’t do it”.

What we really mean is:

“I don’t believe I can do it”

If you don’t believe that you can do it then being motivated to put a lot of effort into something is really hard. Athletes often do a lot of visualisation of themselves winning races. Why? Because it builds their belief and helps them get motivated for their training and they truly believe they can win the gold medal.

If you think you can’t do it, and you believe that you are ultimately going to fail, then the further you go along your journey the more scary it can get. The pain of failing increases the closer you get to your goal. This can lead to us not even starting or giving up very early in our journey.

Part of the challenge is that the more we focus on failing, then the less likely we are to acknowledge what we have already achieved. This can mean that we never celebrate our successes. Our minds are on high alert and are looking for signs that we are already starting to fail. This results in us being much more likely to fail.

There has been lots of research into what drives fear of failure in individuals. One driver is a lack of purpose or direction and if you don’t have a clear goal then it is logical that having the self-belief to achieve it will be harder. If you haven’t already used my goal setting tool from my June 2019 newsletter then click here to get it.

The other main driver of the fear of failure is a belief that you lack competence. A lot of us can struggle to acknowledge our strengths and are much happier focusing instead on our faults. A useful tool to help build your self-belief is to start journaling your achievements every day. Look for 2-3 things you have done well every day and you may be surprised at how much you achieve!

The trick to change your failure expectation into believing that you CAN succeed is to break your plan into bite size pieces and repeat them. It really doesn’t matter how small those pieces are. What does matter is that each time to achieve them then you need to celebrate. And you need to keep celebrating and keep reminding yourself of what you have achieved.

There is one other really important step to overcome the fear of failure which is that if you do slip up or make a mistake then FORGIVE YOURSELF and get straight back on it. It is never the initial slip up that stops us achieving what we want to, it is the guilt and shame we feel afterwards that means we give up trying.

I believe that everyone has the ability to live their best life but sometimes we just need a little help to understand how. If you would like to discuss how I can help you then please contact me here.

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