The other day I was talking to a very close friend about our careers and she said “I wish I was as motivated as you are.” I asked her why she didn’t think she was. She simply stated “I’m too scared to fail.”
Ahhh. The fear of failure, a feeling I think many people, both men and women, can empathize with. No one wants to fail, especially people who have only ever succeeded at everything they’ve done, much like my friend. Even I used to fall under this spell because in all honesty, I’m not a risk taker. (That role falls to my crazy husband who seems to have no concept of danger and risk) I used to psyche myself out before everything from cheering tryouts to test taking, worrying about what would happen if I failed. Oh, it’d be so embarrassing and my life would be over. But, you know what happened? I rarely actually did fail. And if I did, the world didn’t end. It kept spinning like every other day and I kept chugging along just fine.
This fear of failing can halt you from branching out and becoming who you really are. It can cause you to become stuck in a career path you don’t enjoy because your mind is constantly filled with “what ifs” and “maybes”. There are ways to get past this though. Here are some tips to help you overcome your fear of failure and be the best you possible!
Take baby steps: No one said you needed to drop your entire savings into that awesome start-up or quit your job and try something completely new. Start off small and then grow your ability to fight this fear. Ask to lead that new project that just came up or request that you’re given a few new tasks that are out of your normal job scope. Once you see that you can succeed, you’ll become more confident and start stepping out of your comfort zone.
Accept failure as a normal part of life: News break! Everyone fails sometimes! Like when I was forced to take French in college and I did absolutely awful. I sadly accepted that languages just weren’t my thing even though I tried really hard. Or when my husband used to race cars and he would finish towards the back. That didn’t stop him from getting in the car again the next week. It just made him try harder. Once you can accept that failure is a normal part of life you’ll be much better off.
Embrace your failures to help you learn: Failing at something isn’t all bad. If you’re failing properly (trust me, I know that sounds weird), it should be teaching you something at the same time. If you didn’t complete something as well as you wanted to, take a step back and see where you messed up. Thoughtful analysis of how you can improve next time turns what you might deem a “failure” into an awesome learning experience that you can use in the future.
Be confident in your abilities: Here’s the biggie. If you really want to overcome your fear of failure you need to learn to be truly confident in your abilities. I know many of you will say that you’re confident, but are you really? I’ll tell you right now, I didn’t become truly self-assured until my husband and I decided to start Animal Lover Funding. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always be a fairly confident person who felt I was awesome and more than capable of many things. But it wasn’t until I branched out into a field that I have absolutely no background in that my confidence shown through. Do I know about web design, animal shelters, or how to run my own business? Not really. Do I have leadership skills, research skills, a great support system, and the urge to make something big of myself? Yes, I definitely do! Well, here comes the confidence bell ringing loud and clear asking me to jump off the risk cliff. That jump was the most freeing feeling of my life.
Everyone can overcome their fear of failure. It just takes a little bit of confidence, support, and a kick in the pants to take a small, but calculated risk. Once you realize that you can and will succeed, you’ll be surprised at the awesome end result. So go on, get on out there! Don’t let fear hold you back. You’re confident, a winner, a leader, and a strong woman. Show the world what happens when all of that comes together!
Now it’s your turn! How did you overcome your fear of failing?