Failing stinks! It can make you feel ashamed, disappointed, and frustrated. But just like any of these emotions, failure can serve as a tool for growth—if you use it correctly.
After enjoying some success in your career, relationships or personal life, you may start to shy away from risk. You worry you will lose it all, or that setting your sights higher makes you appear unrealistic or ungrateful. In an attempt to avoid failure, you actually start to undermine your own chances of future success.
Recognizing a Fear of Failure
You might trick yourself into thinking “That’s not me. I’m not afraid to fail.” Here are some signs that you’re shying away from risk to avoid failure:
- You question your capabilities.
- You second-guess your decisions.
- You procrastinate on important tasks.
- You come up with excuses about why you can’t pursue a goal.
- You fret over what others think of you.
- You worry about letting people down.
- You rarely leave your comfort zone.
- You often get sidetracked while striving for goals.
- You let others lead even though you are equipped to do so.
The terrible thing about fear of failure is that it starts to take a toll on your self-confidence. Staying in one place may be comfortable, but, eventually, you start to doubt your own abilities. You start tuning into the negative script in your head that says “You can’t do that. You’re better off right here where you are.” When this voice becomes louder, fear of failure gives in to an even bigger threat: failure to improve, change, or grow.
Counteract a fear of failure by changing your perspective.
If you fear failure, it’s because you have attached a negative connotation to the word. You’ve made it “bad.” In order to use failure to your advantage, you need to redefine it. Rather than viewing failure as an indicator of your worth or your abilities, see it as a sign of your courage. Why? Because if you failed, it means you tried. If you never try, you can’t fail, but you certainly can’t succeed either.
Try this: Challenge yourself to push beyond your comfort zone and try to fail on purpose. It seems counterintuitive, but give it a try. At the end of each day, jot down one way you failed. The next day, try to go further out of your comfort zone to fail even bigger.
For instance, do something different and voice your opinion in a work meeting. Your boss or coworkers may shoot down your suggestion, but at least you took a risk to make your ideas known.
What did you learn by taking this risk? Was it really as bad as you thought? How can you change your strategy to maximize your chances of success next time around?
Fear of failure can diminish your self-confidence and lead to self-sabotaging behaviors. Reframe your failure into something that shows your courage to take a risk and learn from it. If you use incidents of failure as courageous learning opportunities, you’ll find yourself pushing past your fears and growing in ways you never imagined.
Don’t let fear of failure keep you from the life you want for yourself.
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Sources: psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201306/10-signs-you-might-have-fear-failure, success.com/blog/5-ways-to-reframe-failure, fastcompany.com/3046944/know-it-all/7-methods-to-overcome-your-fear-of-failure, forbes.com/sites/vanessaloder/2014/10/30/how-to-move-beyond-the-fear-of-failure-5-proven-strategies/#6a56ed9c7cc0
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