Fear of failure is a real thing. A common workaround of individuals with perfectionist tendencies is the “if I don’t try, then I can’t fail” mindset. Many people will avoid goals, as well as tasks, that they fear they cannot complete to remove the risk of failing. However, avoiding your goals, big and small, means you are going nowhere fast. There are proven methods that can help you overcome your fear of failure and guide you through the steps to reach your biggest goals.
1. Redefine Failure
You have a clear image in your head of what your version of success is. Now, you must define what failure is in your mind. Is your vision of failure truly failure, or is it merely a discrepancy? How can you change your definition to “lesson” instead of “failure”?
2. Real vs. Imagined Threats
Take a long, hard look at the threats you imagine that come with failing. Are these threats real or imagined? If the threat of failure is something as serious as not being able to pay bills, and therefore losing your home, then the threat is real. However, if the danger centers more on embarrassment, having to explain your situation to others, or merely knowing that you didn’t reach your goal, then the threat is imagined. While those situations are uncomfortable, they will not result in loss of income, life, or safety.
3. Goal Types
Consider the types of goals you are setting because they are most likely affecting your mindset. If your goals are “promotion goals” then they are promoting you and what you want to reach (I want to start my own business, I want to get published, etc.). If your goals are “prevention goals,” then your goals are trying to prevent something negative from happening (I don’t want to shut down my business, I don’t want to be turned down, etc.). Consider the types of goals you are setting for yourself and how they affect your mindset.
4. Outcome Envisioning
Everyone has a vision of what achieving their goal will look like. If you are running a half marathon, then you are probably envisioning crossing the finish line and getting your medal. If your goal is to publish a book, then you probably have visions of your book cover and people buying your book. These are positive thoughts and can help drive you to achieve your goals.
Fear of failure is a real and valid construct. We, as humans, are hardwired to fear failure. That fear has kept humans alive for thousands of years. However, fear of failure today, when it is about achieving dreams and goals, is not about survival, it’s about proving yourself wrong.