10 Simple Ways To Combat Your Fear Of Failure

Held back by your fear of failure? Don't worry, there's a few things you can do to fix that.

It's inevitable, as human beings, we make mistakes and experience setbacks. It can be devastating, and send us spiraling into negative thought loops. But you can't every feat you set out to conquer. It's an aspect of life that isn't so pleasant, and as a result: many have a tendency to avoid any situation where failure could be an outcome.

Fear of failure, A.K.A. atychiphobia, affects everyone to some degree. But when it comes to a point where it's impacting your quality of life and making it difficult to leave your comfort zone, then it's time to look at ways to manage the fear.

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

1. Find the source

There are many causes of the fear of failure. Maybe you grew up with parents who pressured you to be perfect, or maybe you had an experience that made you feel ashamed. Once you learn what exactly brought about this fear, then you can reflect back on that situation and try to think objectively about what you learned from it. Meditation can be very helpful in this step, as it promotes introspection. With a calm mind, instead of focusing on your mental anguish caused by this fear, you can hone in on why you experience it in the first place.

2. Vent about it

If you have ever visited a therapist at some point in your life, then you've probably heard them suggest that you should write down how you feel. It's echoed time after time in psychology because expressing your feelings truly helps. If you don't like writing, try talking to someone in your life. It's important that you're able to have someone listen to you, so that you can get this anxiety off your chest.

3. Embrace your fear

Fear is our body's response to perceived danger, it's a necessary response that has helped us evolve. This response also extends to the idea of trying new things because your brain views any possible embarrassment as a potential danger. Instead of trying to suppress this biological response, think of it as your brain trying to prepare you for the experience that you are worried about. In fact, research suggests that viewing stress in a more positive light can be better for your overall well-being.

4. Adopt a positive mindset

Changing your mindset isn't easy, especially if you are someone prone to negative thought. All negative thinking will do is hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Speaking from personal experience, it helps to write down things you like about yourself every day, and listen to self-help podcasts like Help Me Be Me or The Lavendaire Lifestyle. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help either. Talk to a therapist or counselor for more suggestions on what you can do to maintain a positive outlook.

5. Visualize outcomes

Think of about the worst thing that could happen. If you don't get this job, will you be blacklisted from getting any other job? If you mess a word up on your speech, will everyone laugh at you? Most of the time, you are putting too much thought into the worst case scenario when it's probably not as bad as you think it is. 

6. Visualize yourself taking steps to succeed

It's not enough to just visualize success, and in fact, studies show it can even be harmful. If you spend your time fantasizing that you live in your dream home, you might just get sucked up in that fantasy, and feel that you already have it. Which is why instead you need to focus your energy on visualizing yourself taking the steps to acquire your dream home, or whatever goal you have.

7. Set reasonable goals

For example, say you want to be an actress. Instead of setting a goal for yourself to be an accomplished actress within 4 years, start slow. Make a goal to start taking acting classes or practice auditioning. 

3 Key components of goal setting:

  • Setting a time frame. The time frame should, of course, be reasonable. But you don't want to be too lenient either. Think about when you would like the goal to be completed by, figure out what you need to do, and work with that to give yourself a realistic time frame.
  • Making a plan. If you're a visual learner, it's super helpful to actually write out what you plan to do, instead of just creating it in your mind. Again, start slow, and stick to what is realistic.
  • Making sure you stick to it. A great way to hold yourself accountable is to share your goal with others, because that way you involve other people in the process; giving yourself an even greater obligation to completion. 

8. Make a routine

Making a routine helps you allot time to work on your goals. It also increases your endurance in accomplishing other tasks. In other words, if you can stick with a routine, it gets either to stick with other things as well.

Tips for making a routine

  • Make it fun. People tend to associate routines with boring activities. This doesn't have to be true. Incorporate something you enjoy doing, like listening to music, with what you need to get done. Another thing you can do is reward yourself after your routine is done to positively reinforce completing your routine.
  • Prioritize. Routines should be made with the most important tasks at the top of to-do list. This way if you decide to bail on your routine in the middle of it, you'll likely have completed some important tasks beforehand. If you have a paper due the next day, that absolutely needs to be at the top of the list.
  • Think about the purpose of your routine. In relation to conquering your fear of failure, you can create a routine surrounding this goal. An example would be coming up with tasks to help prepare yourself for an interview.

9. Accept that you will never be perfect

You'll never be perfect because no one is. As human beings, we are plagued by a negativity bias. Meaning the negative events in our life affect us more than the positive, and tend to hold greater influence on the decisions we make. Why do we have the negativity bias? It's most likely an evolutionary trait, developed to keep us safe from potential danger by dwelling on past brushes with death. Today, we don't have to worry about woolly mammoths crushing us to death, or getting eaten by saber-tooth tigers. So the negativity bias is mostly a hindrance.

10. Remember that setbacks are inevitable

Reiterating what I stated in the beginning: whether you're a CEO or an employee, setbacks happen to everyone. This one of the most important things to remember because we tend to take failure personally and believe that there's something wrong with us. 

In summation, failure isn't the end of the world. It's helpful in a way, because we need these experiences to learn from and become a better version of ourselves. 

Just a night owl and podcast nerd who loves to write.

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