Hollywood has made it seem like if you want to overcome your fear of failure, there must be one life-changing moment that gives you the reality check you need to snap out of it and get your head in the game.
In real life, though, it’s not that simple. If you spend your life waiting around for a single defining moment that tells you it’s time to change, you’ll be waiting forever. Or, you could continuously miss your chance because you keep telling yourself that there’s always tomorrow.
Want to rise above your fear of failure? The time is now, today, at this exact moment. Even so, you’ll need to keep working at overcoming your fears for a while, chipping away at it until it no longer holds you a prisoner of yourself. Similarly, for most people, overcoming the fear of failure is an ongoing project. Here are two simple ways to get started on it.
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When you sit down and plan out your road map to success, make learning and growth your highest priority instead of success. Paradoxically, giving too much thought to how you need to succeed might make you averse to failure.
If you’re thinking so much about being successful, you’ll tend to avoid failure because it seems to run contrary to what you want to achieve. On the other hand, when your biggest priority is to learn and grow, you’re consciously putting yourself in the position for continual self-improvement. In this frame of mind, failing is not only inevitable but necessary to keep moving forward and expanding your capabilities.
As Deepak Chopra put it, “If you focus on success, you’ll have stress. But if you pursue excellence, success will be guaranteed.”
Most of us focus our personal growth almost entirely on goal-setting. We use the SMART framework, track our progress related to those goals, and subsequently making the appropriate adjustments to meet our targets on time. According to New York Times bestselling author Tim Ferris, though, it’s critical to take the same approach to facing our fears. He calls this practice “fear-setting.”
On the first page:
On the second page:
Write what you stand to gain if you made an attempt, or succeeded even partially.
On the third page:
Identify the costs of doing nothing.
Our fears tend to have so much power over us because we overemphasise the costs of taking the plunge. Alternatively, we focus almost wholly on what could go wrong instead of on what could go right.
Fear-setting helps to undo this effect. It allows you to quantify and substantiate exactly why you stand to gain so much more than you could lose from pushing ahead despite being afraid. Most importantly, it also allows you to see in black and white how much you’re penalising yourself if you stay in your comfort zone.