HOW TO GET OVER THE FEAR OF FAILURE
As a teen I had a habit of feeling (genuinely feeling) as though I couldn’t do things, I felt paralysed by a sense that I simply wasn’t capable of doing what I was required at school or college, that I just couldn’t achieve what I needed or wanted to. It’s ironic really given where I am today and how far I’ve grown in my life and in my career. But back then ‘I can’t’ was a staple part of my my vocabulary.
I have to credit my dads persistent response of ‘yes you can’ to any of my moments of doubt or self depreciation. For every time I lost belief in myself, he, along with all my family kept pushing me on, trying to show me how good I really was and that really the world was my oyster. I don’t know what made me feel so incapable, but it’s likely that the fear of failure played a part. The fear of failure can disable so many of us throughout our life time, but there’s ways to cope and tackle this dark doubt that feeds your mind, I for one have channelled that feeling to my advantage, working as hard as I possibly can to achieve the things I want, to prove to myself over and over that ‘I can’ do this.
So today I wanted to dedicate a post to sharing my experience but also what I’ve learnt, how I’ve overcome my self doubt and how you can too. I’ve worked these into 5 tips, tricks and ideas that you can take on today, to feel better for tomorrow.
5 TIPS TO HELP YOU FIGHT THE FEAR OF FAILURE
Most of the time, when I look back at my ‘I can’t’ day, I realise that most of the time I’d lost perspective. I’d become so blinded by stress and panic that I simply couldn’t see what needed to be done to overcome the task in hand. And that’s where perspective comes in. For me perspective is two fold, firstly it’s about getting a real grip of the task, breaking it down & taking things on gradually (more of that next) but also a little ‘real world’ perspective too. What’s the worst that would happen if I actually did fail? And a serious realisation that your guaranteed to fail if you don’t try. So having that little bit of perspective actually helps ease the pressure, the stress and the panic. Take a step back so you can see clearly and often it won’t feel so bad after all.
#2 ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY
I mentioned it above, but often we can look at the task or challenge ahead and feel blinded or paralysed by the pure scale of it. Such a big huge hurdle to overcome. Take a business pitch, GCSE’s a dissertation as an example. They’re such big projects and challenges, but actually when you break things down into small chunks, break time down into more manageable deadlines, and forget looking at the big scary overall situation, you’ll find it far easier just to make that start. And more often than not starting is the hardest part.
#3 STOP COMPARING YOURSELF
Fear of failure can often be stemmed from comparing yourself to others, worrying you’re not good enough in the context of someone else, reviewing your success versus another’s. It’s unhelpful, negative and irrelevant. The sooner you can learn not to compare yourself to other people, so much more of your energy can be channeled into yourself and focussing on your own work and successes. It’s liberating.
#4 LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
If at first you fail. Pick yourself up and try again.
Failure is all part of the learning curve, it helps you grow, learn and evolve. If you make mistakes, have failures, or lose your way. Accept it. Learn from it. And move on.
Too often in society these days we see leaders fail and then just give up (prime ministers for example or football managers). It’s pathetic and sets such a bad example to young people out there. Failure is sometimes just part of the journey. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Simply take check and try again.
#5 WELL DONE
Positive reinforcement works. Pavlov proved it way back when, and I have to say he got it spot on. When we do something we feel we couldn’t at the start, we feel over joyed, proud and happy with ourselves. That positive reaction reinforces the mind to think ‘I can’, so the more you overcome, the more you reinforce that positive sentiment in your mind.
So that is why it’s so so so important to be able, and remember to say well done to yourself. We should all say it more. You know how hard you’ve worked, the obstacles or hurdles you’ve tackled and then self doubt you’ve proved wrong, so congratulate yourself at the end. In big situations treat yourself to a reward. And if you really want to take it one step further, give yourself a goal and a reward at the end of it.
I do this all the time still now. If I achieve X I’ll treat myself to Y (always a designer handbag or some blogging tech like a camera or a lens). It Spurs you on, and more than anything gives positive reinforcement at the end.
Can you relate to this post? Do you ever suffer from the fear of failure or moments of self doubt and comparison?