How to conquer the fear of failure – 3 simple strategies

Whether it’s the constant pressure to succeed professionally, keep a balanced life, or seek perfection, the fear of failure is something we all experience. We live in a culture that is heavily driven by the over-achievement mindset, which makes us doubt our dreams and aspirations. Fear of failure prevents many of us from even giving our dream a chance. When we do trust ourselves enough to go for it, we tend to overachieve and end up burning our wings. It is critical to unlearn our old ways and implement new routines to work smarter and not harder.

Here are 3 proven strategies to overcome your fear of failure:

1. Reframe your fear of failure

Every time you fail you are learning new information that propels you forward. Reframing your goals to include your learning as well as success is critical to having the courage to take your dreams seriously. Remember that any great success comes with its fair share of failures. Every time you fail, recognize that you’ve learned something important and you’re on the path to success. 

Action step – Redefine what success means to you. You might reframe your success like Maya Angelou did as ‘Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.’ Redefining your goal by how much you'll learn instead of the achievement only takes the stress out of the task and reduces the fear of failure.

2. Tame your inner woolly mammoth

Fearing failure is often worse than actually failing. The failure we worry about is not life threatening, but our body responds with stress, anxiety and overreacts. 

Action step - When you feel stressed and afraid to fail, one way to confront your failure head-on is to ask ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ See what arises. You might find that the worst is not all that bad after all.

Don’t forget to also wonder “How incredible could it be?” You’ll find your mind and heart expanding to fill the space that is created with this simple question. 

3. Trust yourself

We often second guess ourselves when we fear failure, thinking that someone will know better than we do. This is not necessarily true, so practice trusting your intuition and listening to your gut. 

According to UC Berkeley professor Martin Covington, the fear of failure is linked to your self-worth which is why it’s so critical to address. He found that people put themselves through a lot of heartache to avoid failure and maintain the sense that they are worthwhile. I’ve found it’s important to remember that I’m already worthy just as I am. It saves a lot of time wasted on procrastination and not feeling good enough. Instead of putting yourself immense amounts of pain, try trusting yourself instead. 

Action step - Next time the fear creeps in and you find yourself doubting your abilities, tell yourself “I allow myself to know best”. 

At the same time as trusting yourself, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out when you need it. By asking for help you are giving others the permission and courage to do the same.  

Fear of failure teaches us about ourselves, moves us to understand what drives us and ultimately allows us to realize we are ok just as we are. Confronting our fears gives us the courage to keep reaching for even greater heights. What’s something that you’ve been putting of because of fear? What do you need to believe to make it happen? Write your answers in the comments below.