Most of us have probably experienced this at one time or another.
The fear of failure can make force you into making decisions not to try again or move forward. What I have learned over the years with projects I have done and some I have failed miserably is when we allow fear to stop our progress in life, we’re likely to miss some great opportunities along the way.
Fear of failure is the intense worry you experience when you imagine all the horrible things that could happen if you failed to achieve a goal. The intense worry increases the odds of holding back or giving up. What can you do to prevent fear of failure from setting you back?
1. Distinguish between real and imagined threats
Real threats pose a risk to your survival while imagined threats are hypothetical scenarios. Fear of failure involves an imagined threat and you should not let it stop you from achieving your goals.
2. Redefine failure as a discrepancy
I read somewhere sometime back “success is often hard to define. Failure is even harder.”
I have learned that to make the pursuit of your goal fail-proof, you need to switch from thinking about failures to thinking about what you hope to achieve and what you might achieve. As long as you continue making an effort, there is no room for failure.
3. Create promotion rather than prevention goals
Promotion goals are about achieving a positive outcome, for example, I want to get a bigger client base. On the other hand, prevention goals are about avoiding a negative outcome, for example, I hope I don’t lose my job. Prevention goals are associated with more disorganized approaches to goal pursuit, lower engagement, less self-determination, and more anxiety.
4. Don’t let it become a part of your identity
Failure is something that happens and just because you haven’t found a successful way to achieve your goal that does not mean you are a failure. One needs to be careful not to blur the lines between making mistakes and being someone who only makes mistakes. The actions you take to move past failure and reach success will define you in the end.
5. Create lessons learned for the future
When making future decisions, think about the possible hurdles that will occur and plan for them, especially how you will cope with those obstacles. We need to anticipate that we will run into problems and have contingency plans and actions ready for when the problems occur.
6. Let it hurt
Failure hurts and you can’t avoid the disappointment you feel. It’s okay to let it upset you, take it personally and be frustrated. But you don’t want to succumb to the self-pity for too long as you need to move on. For me, my pity party last for 3 days and am back to trying again.
Fear of failure leads to the creation of prevention goals, which may blur our focus, undermine our efforts, and make planning difficult.
Refraining prevention goals as promotion goals is one way to take the fear of failure out of the equation.