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Has a fear of failure stopped you from moving forward in your life?

It’s not out of the ordinary to feel this fear – in fact, defining the ‘fear of failure’ includes the following aspects:

  • Apprehension about what other people’s evaluations of your actions mean – if you’re deeply concerned about your impression on others, it can stifle your creativity and ambition.
  • Distress over negative evaluations by others – knowing that people in your social circle have a less-than-perfect opinion of you and your life can cause you emotional pain and sap your energy.
  • The expectation that other people would evaluate you negatively – peer pressure is an immensely powerful force, as anyone who’s attended high school can attest.

When you can overcome the fear of failure and overcome the contrary force it generates, you snap the chains that bind you and lean into your own strength, creativity, and intelligence to remove the fear’s power over you.

Let’s examine four action-oriented steps to conquer your fear of failure.

4 Steps to Conquering Your Fear of Failure

Have you ever said no, or turned down the opportunity to do something risky because you were afraid you’d fail?

You’re not alone: fear of failure happens to almost every perfectly imperfect human being (yes, me too) at some point in their lives. The prospect of failure and the negative aftereffects of it can be paralyzing. If you succumb to that fear too often, you’ll miss out on great opportunities and sabotage your success.

Here are four ways to conquer that fear of failure and move forward.

Conquering Fear, Step 1: Understand what failure means to you

Learning that failure means different things to different people might surprise you. What might seem like an irreparable disaster to you might be a temporary setback to someone else. When you understand your definition of failure and how it sits with your values, beliefs, and expectations, you can start to deal with it and cease to be its victim.

Consider using your personal journal to define failure for yourself, and look into your past to help determine when failure as a concept was given so much power in your life. It may be related to watching a friend, loved one, or a family member struggle with it – you could have picked up a lesson you thought of as “truth” when it only related to that one situation.

Conquering Fear Step 2: Accept that some failure is inevitable and good!

Unless you want to live a life wrapped in cotton wool and not achieve anything, some failure is inevitable, and realize that it’s rarely fatal.

Being comfortable doesn’t always equal being successful. Remember that everyone fails at something sometimes, often many times! The only way to avoid all failure is never to attempt anything – that’s not a life ANYONE should lead.

Consider famous inventors – many experienced dozens or hundreds of failures before they experienced their breakthrough to success.

The only bad failure is one where you don’t learn anything. Mistakes and missteps are part of the journey. Accept that and resolve to learn from your mistakes as well as learn from the mistakes of others. Reframe failure as feedback and see it as a stepping stone to success.

Conquering Fear Step 3: Failure is not the end

Failure is neither permanent nor the end of the story.

When you make a mistake or something you planned doesn’t work out, it might feel like the end of the world.

But it isn’t. You’ve just worked out how not to do something.

If the technology failed or you bombed out on your presentation, you now have valuable information you can use to improve your performance next time.

Conquering Fear Step 4: Reframe your failure mindset

Above all, “failure” is a concept, and you can (and should) reframe that concept to one that serves you better. Studies have shown that it’s possible to reprogram the human brain, and all those neural pathways can be rewired to serve you better.

Those negative beliefs about failure that you have are not set in stone. You can consciously decide that failure is just another risk, that it doesn’t define you as a person, nor will it ruin the rest of your life – as long as you don’t give up.

By taking control of your mindset and using the steps in this article, you can free yourself from the fear of failure.

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About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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