If you have a fear of failure, you’re not alone. Many people do. However, the fear of failure can do more than keep you from being successful. It can also hold you back in other areas, including simple life enjoyment. Often times, fear of failure develops over a period of time, often triggered because you did not get the acceptance and approval you needed from those who were important to you as you were growing up.
If you were raised in a particularly negative environment and received little praise for what you did, you may be among those who experienced fear of failure. Even as you strove for positive recognition and encouragement, you may have learned that no matter how well you did or how hard you tried, it wasn’t good enough.
This may have resulted in low self esteem and may even have become a self-fulfilling prophecy, feeding negativity. Over time, you may have developed an ever-present fear of failure that has made you reluctant to try anything new. If this has carried over into adulthood for you, you may fear that you’ll never succeed in anything you do.
Fortunately, you can overcome this fate. Here are six things to remember:
1. There is a relationship between fear of failure and the resulting (or even preceding) lack of success.
Even though a lack of success and fear of failure have some things in common, they are different. If you lack success, you haven’t succeeded for one reason or another. If you have a fear of failure, you won’t even try to succeed, which in turn of course will lead to a lack of success.
Let’s take a look at how much effort you’ve applied to succeeding at something. Do you see a pattern whereby you stop trying once you’ve lost confidence? If this is you, it’s something that can change and is in fact the biggest reason people fail to succeed. How long did you honestly, truly try before you stopped even trying to succeed with a particular endeavor? Stop for a moment and think about when you’ve lost confidence and subsequently given up trying.
2. How much time and effort do you give something before you give up?
Of course, no one is saying that you need to keep trying endlessly (especially in the same ways) at something that simply isn’t going to work. However, if you have experienced a fear of failure or lack of success previously, you may not have the patience and persistence you need. Remember that successful people, too, have experienced failure. The difference is that they picked themselves up after such failure and gave things another try, perhaps taking a different tack. Increasing the amount of effort you give something without feeling overly stressed or willing to give up too soon is something you need to pay attention to.
3. Build relaxation into your schedule
Of course, you shouldn’t simply sit back on the couch and watch TV all day, but you do need to build breaks into your day so that you don’t get overly stressed and tired, which can lead to giving up overall. If you have an excess amount of stress and negativity in your day, this will give you an even stronger fear of failure. Take regular moments during your day to do something fun that will relax you, exercise, or otherwise take your mind away from the task of the moment. Doing so will put you in a more positive frame of mind and may even allow you to solve a problem you’ve been stuck on. It certainly will also ease the tension. For example, if you can just work for half an hour before you feel stressed, take a small break every half hour. You’ll have an easier time pushing forward if you know that you’re going to take a break in just a few minutes. In addition, make sure you do push forward with full effort during the time you are working. Knowing that you’ve got regular breaks scheduled is, again, going to help you give your full attention to what you’re working on, which will increase your chances of success.
4. Baby steps are the way to go
Instead of trying to accomplish one huge project in its entirety, break it into small and easily achievable steps. Again, take breaks regularly so that you don’t become overly stressed or overwhelmed. If you do this, you’ll come back to your projects fully relaxed and reenergized, ready to tackle problems once again. In addition, this will help keep you positive in general.
5. Keep doing things you know you’re good at
If you know you’re good at something, make sure it’s something you keep doing regularly. If you know you’re good at something, you’re going to feel confident and self-assured when you do it. This, in turn, is going to give you the tools you need to carry that self-confidence and self-assurance into new activities. With this confidence, you’re much less likely to fail and are also much more likely to take setbacks in stride. Therefore, you can take this confidence and utilize it in the efforts you make for new tasks you’re not yet comfortable with. This, in turn, will make it much less likely that you experience a fear of failure to the point where you want to quit.
6. Regularly boost your own self-esteem
One of the best ways to ensure your success is to make sure your own self-esteem is high. Often times, a fear of failure can have its roots in a lack of self-esteem. As you improve your self-esteem, you’re less likely to fear failure. And rather than relying on approval or acceptance from others, you’re going to be able to turn inward and focus on yourself and your own abilities. This in turn will help you garner self-approval in what you do, which is a much more reliable barometer. This makes others’ opinions of you less important.
If you focus on these keys, in time, you’ll begin to see your confidence grow and your fear of failure weaken. Ultimately, it may disappear altogether.