How to Overcome a Fear of Failure

Why do we fail to achieve the things we want in life? Why do so many of us have grand plans that never quite come into fruition? What is it that seems to hold so many people back from fulfilling their potential? There are many answers to these questions of course, but for many of us the biggest problem is simply that we never try to succeed in the first place.

How many times have you considered leaving your job? Or thought about travelling around the world? And how many times have you actually done those things? If you’re like most people then the answer is either ‘never’ or ‘rarely’. The problem is that most of us don’t want to risk trying things when we know that there is a large potential for failure. Setting up our own business is a risky proposition for anyone, and failure would mean not only losing a lot of money but also losing face and damaging our own ego. In a bid to avoid that disappointment then, many of us will simply make excuses not to try in the first place. In some cases, we will even create our invention or write 90% of our book, but never quite finish our plan because we want to hang onto the potential that it could work rather than facing the potential reality of it failing.

Coping Strategies

The irony is then, that fearing failure is often what causes us to fail – and to not even try in the first place. Fortunately though, there are a number of different strategies you can use to get around this problem and to quell that fear just long enough to put yourself out there. Here we will look at some of the most effective so that you can overcome your fear of failure and at least try to succeed.

Make Contingency Plans: For me personally, the most successful way to overcome the fear of failure has always been to have multiple projects on the go and to have lots of contingency plans. I’ve written a number of eBooks and created a number of apps, and while some have been successful others have flopped entirely (I spent nearly a year working on a game that has to this date sold three copies: ouch). The good news though is that I’ve not let those failures stop me from trying again – which is good because my next app has sold 10,000 and counting.

The reason I’m happy to keep trying is simple: I always have lots of ‘next plans’. Every time I release an app, I’m already working on the next one, or the next website, or the next Fiverr gig – and this means that I can’t fail completely. When you next take a risk then or go for your dream, make sure that you have back-up plans and other ways of making it happen for you in case plan A doesn’t work out. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Manage Risk: The other thing that makes releasing sucky apps easy, is the fact that I stand nothing to lose. I make my main income in other ways, which means that any success is a happy bonus rather than a requirement. This way I have managed the risk and taken away the repercussions of failure.

This is something many people could learn from when trying to change careers. When I ask my friends who don’t like their jobs why they don’t simply change, they’ll often tell me that I’m living in a dreamland – that they can’t possibly leave their work in case they don’t get another job – they have a family to feed after all!

Of course the fact they’re missing here though, is that they don’t have to leave their jobs in order to start looking for new work. There’s no reason they can’t be applying for more jobs while they stay in their current job and that way there’s no pressure and zero risk. The same goes for approaching members of the opposite sex, there are many ways you can minimise the risk and this makes the whole thing much less scary.

Finding Value: Another trick is to find value in everything you do – even if it is technically a failed gambit. For instance, if you’ve applied to a big job and failed to get it, then you might say that the interview/form filling process was a worthwhile way to spend time and that you learned from that experience. Likewise, when you ask someone out and get turned down, you will find that it makes it much easier to ask someone out the next time.

Almost always you can learn from a failure and each time you do it makes you more likely to succeed the next time. Don’t see them as failures, just stepping stones to success. You aren’t beaten until you stop trying…

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Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics.

Follow Adam on Linkedin: adam-sinicki, twitter: thebioneer, facebook: adam.sinicki and youtube: treehousefrog

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