Mental Health

Here are the 4 steps you can take to overcome the fear of failure

A tightrope walker performs on a rope above the Old Harbour during a sport event as part of Marseille's nomination as 2017 European Capital of Sport in Marseille, France, September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Successful people want to reach their goal more than they fear failing Image: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Avery Blank
Contributor, Forbes
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Fear of failure can stop you in your tracks, even if you are after something that will bring you joy and excitement. As writer Suzy Kassem says, “Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.” Fear can cause people to miss out on opportunities that allow them to reach their full potential.

By stopping and not reaching your goal, the path remains unclear. Instead of allowing fear to stop you, see fear as forcing you to think about the path forward. Fear is not a roadblock. It can be used to clarify the path.

Successful people want to reach their goal more than they fear failing. Here are four steps to help you embrace your fear of failure and get what you want.

1. Identify what you want.

When you are overcome with fear, this is the time to pause. Sometimes, fear can overpower your ability to see your goal clearly. You get lost in the emotion and lose sight of your vision. Reflect on what it is that you want. Is your goal to get a raise or a promotion? Or is your goal to speak at a conference, get on a board or be a contributing writer for a media platform?

There is a reason why you are told to focus on a motionless point far off in the horizon when you are nauseated. It helps to stabilize the body. Think of fear in a similar way. When you are fearful, focus on your end goal to stabilize yourself. When you can see your goal, you are in a better position to tackle it. Don’t let fear cloud your vision.

2. Realize what is stopping you from reaching what you want.

Once you regain your footing and clarity on what you want, own up to what is making you fearful. Are you afraid of criticism? Are you afraid of not being able to be yourself? Are you afraid of competition? What makes you afraid?

Understand what is stopping you so that you can overcome it. If you don’t see the hurdle, you can’t jump over it. Embrace the barrier to break free from it.

3. Own your discomfort.

Oprah Winfrey says, “Whatever you fear most has no power – it is your fear that has the power.” Don’t let fear weaken you. Do not feel shame in being fearful. Find strength in your fear. It is the key to unlocking your potential. Your fear is your power.

Let’s say you want to be more provocative in your writing or with ideas for your team at work, but you fear that not everyone will agree with you. Your opinion is what makes you, you. Your opinion is your power. Own your opinion. Own your power. Diversity of thought is ultimately what moves conversations and projects forward.

Capture the energy that you are putting into being afraid, and use it to conquer your fear. Fear can’t hold you down if you don’t let it.

4. Start feeling comfortable with the uncomfortable.

To restart your journey towards your goal take a small step. Dip your toe back in. You may feel weary or uncomfortable. Then take another small step. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.

For example, your goal is to speak at a well-known conference, but you worry that you are not good enough to be considered. Begin by applying to speak at smaller events. Write down your accomplishments. Seeing what you have done will help you to believe what you can do. Start putting yourself out there and hearing the word “no.” The more you hear “no,” the less afraid of it you will be. And as billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban says, “Every ‘no’ gets [you] closer to a ‘yes.’”

If you are not feeling slightly uncomfortable, you are not putting yourself out there and not moving towards your goal. If you stay comfortable, you stay put. If you feel comfortable, this is when you should be afraid. It is a sign you are not taking the steps that will help you get closer to your goal.

Rethink risk. Risk is no longer the actions you take but rather the actions you choose not to take. The risk is feeling comfortable. How does feeling uncomfortable sound now? Being uncomfortable is the new comfortable.

To achieve your goals, see fear as the key to helping you clarify your path forward. Identify your goal, realize what is stopping you from achieving it, feel the discomfort and start getting used to the uncomfortable. Want it more than you fear it.

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Related topics:
Mental HealthBehavioural SciencesLeadership
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