I’ve been failing my whole life. In fact, I would even go as far as calling myself a professional failure. I have failed at all kinds of things. From marriage to business and everything in between, you name it, and I’ve failed at it. So, I most certainly understand a thing or two about failure and the inherent fear of failing at something.
The fear of failure can oftentimes cause more pain than the failure itself. Those agonizing days and sleepless nights when we toss and turn playing out those what-if scenarios in our minds can take more than their fair share of a toll on us. They batter us down, physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually, desperately weakening us over time.
But what is it about the fear of failure that’s such a powerful motivator of our actions? How come that fear can compel us into a state of inaction? Why are we so driven by that fear that it can completely stifle and suffocate us?
If you’ve been bound by a fear of failure in the past, you’re definitely not alone. We’ve all been there. It’s not a good place to live, mentally. And the physical effects of living in fear can be devastating to say the least. Stress, anxiety, and the onset of ailments and even diseases can occur when we live in a state of fear of anything for too long a period.
So how is that we’re supposed to achieve anything when we’re shackled by fear? How can we overcome the fear of failure to really go after our dreams and reach for what we want in life rather than suppressing our innermost desires and aspirations?
There are, in fact, some very potent and powerful ways that you can overcome your fear of failure. And, by leveraging these methods, you can take your life to new heights, go after what you really want out of life, and achieve your biggest goals.
But it’s not going to happen overnight. Nothing worthwhile ever does. To overcome our fears, not only do we need to a dramatic shift in thinking, but we also need to take massive amounts of action and breakthrough our fears.
Moving Past the Fear of Failure
It’s easy to talk about having breakthroughs in life. It’s a simple thing to discuss chasing your dreams no matter what the costs. But it’s far harder to do it. How can we really move past the things that are holding us back? How can we overcome a fear of failure that’s so strong and so overbearing, that we get cold feet just thinking about it?
These are definitely valid questions. If you’re stifled by your fears, and you’ve tried to push past them to no avail, then you know just how burdensome they can be. I know too. I’ve been there. And the pain of my past failures certainly amplified those feelings. I didn’t want to go through that pain again. I didn’t want to feel the defeat and embarrassment that went along with it.
But I also knew that the alternative wasn’t an option for me. I didn’t want to live a mediocre life. I didn’t want to be confined by limits in my finances or freedom or time. I wanted to live life on my own terms. And, somehow, that was a big enough motivator for me. But that motivation wasn’t easy to reach. It was the result of a lot of pain. Eventually I got fed up.
So, how do you move past the fear of failure and overcome your innermost desires to give up when the going gets tough? Well, here’s how I did it. There are 5 methods that work really well for doing this. Depending on how badly you want things, these methods might help you to create that monumental shift in thinking that we’re all after.
But to do this, you need to put pen to paper and really relay your thoughts out in front of you. It’s far more effective this way than merely just contemplating the answers to these questions or implementing any of these methods to overcome your fears. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and be sure to write out detailed responses to all of these questions.
#1 –Envision what the future would be like if you were to give up on your dreams
Overcoming our fear of failure can be hard. But when we can envision what our lives would be like if we gave up on our dreams, the realities start setting in. How would it be if we were to allow the fear of failure to dictate our every move? What would life be like 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years from now if we quit chasing our dreams because of a few silly fears?
When you can envision the pain that allowing the fear of failure to govern your actions might cause, it’s possible to use that same pain as a driving force. We will always do more to avoid pain than gain pleasure in the short term. However, if we can flip that script into the long term, the possibilities are endless.
We have to use that same potential for future pain of giving up on our dreams to drive us today. We have to use that to overcome the fear of failure, no matter how powerful it might be. Any alternative to living the life that you absolutely deserve due to a fear of failure is no alternative at all.
Alternatively, what would life be like if you were to chase your dreams and not allow the fear of failure to stymie you? What kind of life would you be living? What would you be doing on a daily basis? Really take the time to envision both scenarios in the long term. And try to associate enough pain to the scenario that involves allowing the fear of failure to stifle you.
#2 — Think about a time in the past when you broke through your fears and accomplished your goals
Sometimes, all it takes to overcome the fear of failure is to think about a time in the past when we broke through our fears and achieved our goals no matter how small they might have been. We all have it within ourselves to make those breakthroughs, but we don’t always give it everything we’ve got.
Think back to a dream you once had in the past, something that’s a reality in your life right now. How badly did you want it? What held you back from achieving it? What stood in your way? How powerful was your fear of failure back then? Think about how you overcame that.
Write it out in great detail. Try to think back to your thought patterns when you were faced with a fear that you broke through. It’s a liberating feeling, and getting back into that headspace, mentally speaking, can do wonders for our potential for progress.
When you overcome your fear of failure to achieve whatever it is that you were trying achieve, the feeling is undeniably incredible. We’ve all experienced it before. And we have to leverage that once-felt feeling to help fuel us in our present quests towards whatever goals we’re trying to achieve today.
#3 — Find something that drives you more than your fear of failure, then focus on it
Anytime I talk about goal setting, I always discuss the importance of having a strong-enough reason to drive you towards achieving something. When you have a meaningful goal, and I mean a really meaningful goal, you’ll do just about anything to help make it into a reality. However, when the goal doesn’t mean that much to you, you’re not willing to do as much to achieve it.
Whenever obstacles come into our path, we give up when there isn’t a strong-enough reason to achieve something. Find something that drives you more than your fear of failure, then focus on that. Not on money, cars, houses, or tangible things. I’m talking about the intangible motivators in our lives: family, freedom, security, and country are some examples.
We will always do more for things that truly matter deep down inside and aren’t just superficial reasons for wanting whatever it is that we want out of life. So take a look at your goals and make sure that you have deep-enough reasons for wanting to achieve them. And be sure to write those reasons out.
Why are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal? How is that reason such a strong motivator for you? If you don’t write it out, it stays in the abstract. Anything in the abstract is not as real or concrete to you. You have to get serious about your goals if you want to overcome your fear of failure, especially if it’s been a big deterrent for you in the past.
#4 — Get inspired on a daily basis by feeding your mind with positive inputs
When I was younger, I found a really big cork-board and hung it on my wall inside my home office. I called it my ‘dream board.’ It had pictures of everything that I wanted to achieve in my life, famous quotes from people who succeeded in their respective crafts, and other inspirational photos and reminders. It also had a list of my running goals.
Having a dream board is a good thing because it’s an ever-present reminder of what you want out of life. You have to get inspired on a daily basis by feeding your mind with positive inputs. It isn’t just about pictures on the wall; find other sources for inspiration such as online videos, interviews, articles, and other material that you can easily source.
Often, when we can read about the struggles of others who achieved what we’re trying to achieve in life, it can help to motivate and push us a little bit. Use resources such as YouTube and TED Talks to find relevant material that can help keep pushing you. When you’re feeling down or unmotivated, these can also help bring in that much needed sense of urgency to keep going.
When we fail to stay inspired, it’s easy to allow our natural tendencies to procrastinate to take over. We get lazy and complacent and we veer off course. We allow time-wasters to take over, and distractions set in. And once we lose that momentum, it’s hard to get back on track.
#5 –Walk through the fear, see it, feel it, and surrender to it, then move past it
Sometimes, in order to overcome our fears of failure, we need to walk through it, see it, feel it, and surrender to it, then move past it. While this might sound strange, it’s probably one of the most liberating ways to overcome these deep-seated fears that are inherent in all of us.
When we see the fear, we acknowledge it. We admit that we’re afraid of failure. We don’t lie to ourselves about it or try to avoid it in our minds. We say it openly. And we also feel that fear. We can close our eyes and feel the sensations as it overcomes us, helping us to picture all of the doomsday scenarios in our mind that would result if that failure happened to materialize.
This is helpful because it’s generally not the failure that we’re so scared of in the first place, it’s the fear of failing. That fear is far more powerful. But when we can see it, feel it, and surrender to it, we allow it to wash over us like the waves washing ashore on some isolated beach. We feel those waves come and go.
But then we move past it. We experience it wholeheartedly, but then implement every other method to push beyond those fears. The fears are powerful to say the least, but they can’t kill us. They will however make us much stronger if we commit to overcoming and pushing past them. While it isn’t easy to overcome your fears, this method helps you to realize that they aren’t all that bad.
Fear in the body is a signal. It’s part of our genetic predisposition for survival. When we’re afraid, we feel emotional pain, which also signals a fight or flight response. Every organism has this, but we have a way of consciously expanding these fears that move past physical fears and more into the mental realm. Yet, when we can move past that, some extraordinary things begin to happen.
Overcoming your fears are never easy, but there are ways around it. As long as you acknowledge those fears, and do whatever is in your power to overcome them, some extraordinary things begin to happen.