One of the biggest deterrents to making big steps to improve our lives is the fear of failure. So often I hear people say that the reason they never start taking action towards their goals is that they are afraid of failing.
“What if I get started and realize I can’t do it?”
“What if I get started and realize it isn’t what I wanted after all?”
“What will people say about me if I fail?”
This post is part of my new series…FROM SURVIVE TO THRIVE where we are going to build up the mindset to CRUSH our goals and go after our WILDEST dreams by building a plan and getting started NOW.
What Does Failure Mean
When I hear these things, I typically start with this question “What does failure mean to you?”
Most of the time, the answer usually has something to do with not reaching the desired outcome or not getting the results they were originally after.
So then I will ask “Why are you afraid of failing?”
And most often I will hear an answer along the lines of not wanting to feel a certain way. That makes sense. You don’t want to feel disappointed in yourself. You don’t want to feel incapable or incompetent of something that you set out to accomplish. You don’t want to be embarrassed when other people realize you didn’t succeed at your goal. And you definitely don’t want to feel like you’ve wasted your time.
Your Thoughts Define You
If you have spent any amount of time reading my blog or talking with me, you know that I fully believe that our thoughts are what define us. Our thoughts can either help us reach our goals and pursue our dreams…or they can hold us back and keep us from going after what matters the most. We decide what actions to take based on the thoughts we hold about the subject.
So if you have certain thoughts about a goal…and those thoughts revolve around fears of loss, vulnerability, shame and embarrassment, you will be unable to do what it takes to succeed because your thoughts will create anxiety, worry, and stress. With such negative thought patterns, it will be nearly impossible to make forward progress with your goals. As soon as an obstacle pops up or something doesn’t work out quite the way you wanted it to, you will just throw in the towel and give up.
What if instead…
- You intentionally shifted your thoughts to a more positive outlook
- You acknowledge that roadblocks are going to appear and you make a plan to tackle them
- You accept the amount of time and effort big life changing goals take
- You state positive affirmations to yourself daily to keep you fired up and excited.
What outcome would these thought patterns produce in comparison to the ones you had previously?
I guarantee that you would produce better outcomes. How can I make such a promise? It is easy. Because our thoughts define us, and we often get exactly what we expect that we will get. So if you expect success, you will get it. If you expect failure, you will get it.
Why You Should Welcome Failure with Open Arms
When you define failure as not getting the result you expected or anticipated, you can expect to experience it quite often. In fact, failure – by that definition – is part of the journey. It is expected. You can almost think of it as something that you can add (and then cross off) of your task list for every goal you create.
In fact, if you don’t experience any setbacks, any failures or obstacles…your goal wasn’t challenging enough to begin with. Go back to the drawing board. Step out of your comfort zone. Personal growth and self development rarely come easy. If you want to grow, you should learn to expect and embrace failure as part of the journey.
Your Life is Cumulative
Our lives are not a series of events that stand indivdually. They are cumulative. When you think of your life that way, you will realize that nothing in life is a true failure. You learn something through every setback. You become wiser. You add additional tools to your problem solving toolbox that you can apply to the next attempt. Everything builds on top of each other.
Some of the most successful people in the world have failed over and over. If they had not failed, they would have never reached their full potential. They chose to leave behind the fear of failure in pursuit of their dreams.
The more opportunities you give yourself to succeed, the more opportunities there are for you to fail. And sometimes you might. But as long as you learn from your mistakes and apply them to your future, those failures will become the most important part of your path to success.
You Fail Automatically by Doing Nothing
By choosing not to pursue your dreams and passions due to a fear of failure, you fail automatically. By not making any forward progress towards your goals is failing before you even begin. You are guaranteeing yourself a 0% chance of success and a 100% chance of failure.
But I thought you were afraid of failure?
By making an attempt…by just getting started…by changing how you think, you are SIGNIFICANTLY lowering your chances of failure and increasing your chances of success.
Overcoming the Fear of Failure
If I haven’t convinced you already, you have to overcome your fear of failure. It is all in your head, and it is only holding you back. You can accomplish incredible things in your life if you just go for it.
Here is what I suggest you do to leave the fear of failure in your rearview mirror.
- Consider the cost of missed opportunities – the biggest risk that people fail to consider is what they are losing by avoiding taking a risk. Are you potentially missing out on big money, big happiness or something else by not even attempting to go after your dream?
- Put the worst case scenario in perspective – seriously, what is the worst thing that can possibly happen if you fall flat on your face? How long will it take you to recover? The honest answer to that question is probably less than you expect. When I decided to leave my career and pursue my passion, I thought through this exact question. How long would it take me (worst case scenario) to find another job if I fell on my face? Probably a couple of months at worst. So was the fear of a few tough months strong enough to hold me back from trying? HECK NO!
- Understand the fine art of failure – each failure is an opportunity for growth even if it costs you financially. The lessons you learn are far more valuable.
- Take action – the hardest step is the first one. After that first step, you accumulate experience and knowledge. You learn and you build momentum. So take the first step.
- Plan – Plans put your mind at ease. Having a plan will help relieve anxiety. So plan out your days and ensure that each day you make progress (grab your free planning worksheet below).
- Commit to yourself – there will never be a day in the pursuit of your dreams that you won’t have to practice dedication, discipline, perseverance and self integrity. So make a commitment to yourself. Face your fear of failure and honor your commit at all costs.
One of my favorite quotes :
“Success is not built on success. It is built on failure. It is built on frustration.
Sometimes it is built on catastrophe.” – Sumner Redstone
OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES
The From Survive to Thrive Series is all about changing your mindset and taking decisive action. We are going to start putting a plan in place to take your dreams out of your head and make them a reality. As you know, planning is a critical piece of the puzzle. Be sure to download your worksheet because we are going to talk about it each week throughout the series.
I’ll be updating this post with links to the other posts in the series as I write them, so you may want to save or pin this post if you plan to follow along. You can also subscribe to email updates so you don’t miss anything.
Post 1: The Fine Art of Failure
Post 2: Developing a Growth Mindset
Post 3: How to Achieve your Dreams
Powerful Ways to Build Unstoppable Confidence
Grab my FREE Confidence Mini-Course Now!