The feeling of success can be important for your sense of identity and self-worth. As a result, when success seems hard to achieve, the fear of failure can hinder progress in your career. However, overcoming the fear of failure is an important marker for your professional and personal advancement. In this article, we will examine steps you can take to give you a starting point in your journey of self-confidence and help you overcome a fear of failure.
How to overcome a fear of failure
You can approach these steps as a comprehensive process or individually, depending on what works best for you. Remember that overcoming any fear is a dynamic process, so in some cases, you may be interested in trying more than one approach so that you can find one that works for you. Here are some steps you can take to overcome the fear of failure and gain self-confidence:
- Set goals.
- Think positively.
- Examine worst-case outcomes.
- Look for outside help.
1. Set goals
Dividing your ambitions between practical goals and projection goals can help you work through your fear of failure and move forward. Practical goals are simple steps you can take before moving on to more involved tasks. For someone seeking a job, practical goals could include the following:
- Improving your resume.
- Selecting professional clothing to wear for interviews.
- Practicing responses to common interview questions.
- Applying to a set number of jobs per week.
These steps help preserve your forward momentum and improve your preparedness.
Projection goals are value-based milestones to look forward to. Avoiding specifics can help make the goals more accessible. For example, for someone seeking employment, a projection goal may be to “Find a position in which I will be able to learn new skills to use in my field” or to “Find a position with a strong mentoring component.” This type of goal allows you to emphasize positive attributes and think about different experiences as steps toward success.
2. Think positively
Striving to be positive can help improve your confidence and offset some of the anxiety associated with failure. Instead of dwelling on mistakes or poor outcomes, take time to reframe difficult encounters in your mind as learning experiences. By focusing on successes, you gain valuable insight into how you are progressing.
3. Imagine worst-case outcomes
It may seem counterintuitive to think positively and then try to think of worst-case outcomes. Pairing the two together, however, is a great way to encourage confidence. Thinking of worst-case outcomes gives you the opportunity to figure out how to handle potentially unpleasant scenarios in a constructive, positive way.
Write out your imagined worst-case outcomes in a list, being sure to remain realistic. Work through the list one scenario at a time by focusing on different ways you can overcome obstacles. This process can help minimize fears of failure and give you a better idea of how to handle challenging situations.
Self-evaluation is a critical component of self-betterment, but it is also an important part of overcoming fears of failure. If you are seeking a career change, practice self-evaluation by gathering your resume and any documentation you use for job applications like certifications and educational transcripts. Then, analyze all your qualifications and skills, job history, education and other relevant details. Finally, consider your ideal job and what you can do to ensure you have the right skill set for it. Feeling secure that you have the right experience for a position can help reduce fears of failure.
Another important part of self-evaluating is to look at your past challenges to learn how you can improve. Discovering where you were less successful and taking active steps to correct those mistakes can help you feel more positive about your abilities.
5. Look for outside help
If you still find yourself hindered by fear of failing, it may help to look to an outside professional such as a career coach, life coach or counselor. These professionals can offer stress and anxiety reduction techniques to help you progress.
If your anxiety is specific to a job search, consider talking to a local job center. Many universities offer career assistance to community members and can help you craft a strong resume and practice interview skills.
Fear of failure is natural, but you can overcome temporary setbacks and work toward reaching your goals. The above steps are a guide for overcoming your fear of failure and moving forward in a successful career.
By learning to cope with failure, you can increase your willingness to take risks and push beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. This, in turn, can create powerful opportunities for learning and professional success. However, learning to cope with failure does take practice and development. In this article, we discuss the many benefits associated with failure and how you can learn to cope with failures in the workplace.
What is failure?
Failure is the condition of not meeting a goal or intended outcome. While it can be viewed as the opposite of success, failures in the workplace present the greatest opportunities for employee growth. The best leaders encourage failure and out-of-the-box thinking because of the innovation and learning that comes from it.
Benefits of failure
While no one enjoys failing, there actually are several very powerful benefits associated with failing, which makes it all the more important to learn to cope with failure.
- Failures can make you smarter. Research shows that your brain actually gets bigger when it’s compiling information about an experience. When you fail, your brain retains the new pathways by taking new information and compiling the takeaways from the trial and error. In other words, making mistakes fundamentally alters the brain and makes it more mature.
How to cope with failure
Learning to cope with failure can give you an edge professionally, make you a stronger leader and more dynamic team player in the future. Here are some basic steps for coping with failure effectively:
- Separate failure from your identity.
- Learn from the failure.
- Find a new perspective.
- Get support from others.
- Move forward.
1. Separate failure from your identity
Remember that a setback or failure isn’t a reflection of who you are as an individual. By understanding that failure is just part of the process and not part of your identity, you can maintain the confidence to continue pursuing your goal.
2. Learn from the failure
See your failure as constructive criticism. Identify why the failure occurred and whether it was beyond your control. After you have gathered all the facts, ask yourself what you can learn from the experience and what changes you could make to achieve a different result next time.
3. Find a new perspective
Start by understanding that failure is part of the learning process. Shift your perspective away from negative thoughts and focus on positive associations. For example, tell yourself that your failure brings you one step closer to reaching your goal. Most successful people will readily tell you that failure was a critical part of their path to success.
4. Get support from others
Talking to someone close to you is a great way to manage the many emotions that can accompany a failure. Getting support will help you accept the failure, gain perspective and find encouragement to try again.
Look for ways to learn from others who are where you want to be. Read books about setbacks business professionals have overcome and how they managed those low points. Use their stories as a way to garner enthusiasm or motivation to move beyond your failure.
5. Move forward
While it’s important to fully process what happened and gather any key takeaways, it’s also important to accept it and move forward. Acceptance means you understand that you encountered an obstacle or brief setback and now need to find a solution to resolve the problem.
Sit down and make a plan for how you can apply what you learned and move forward. Understand that challenge, growth and even failure are almost always required to achieve a goal.
Tips for embracing failure
Here are a few bonus tips to help you better cope with professional failures:
- Celebrate failures. If your team works hard, pushes beyond their comfort zone and fails anyway, celebrate the failure. Create a culture where you celebrate risk-taking, even if it doesn’t result in success.
Writer, blogger, entrepreneur, software engineer, and best-selling author of dozens of SEO, online marketing & self-development books.
“Fall seven times. Stand up eight.” — Japanese Proverb
Failure hurts. To put it mildly, it’s a painful experience, one that many of us work tirelessly to avoid. Often, its effects can be long-lasting, leaving a mark in our minds, and creating a mental hurdle that can be difficult to overcome in later years.
But failure is also necessary.
When we fail, we tend to ponder, searching for new meaning to our lives, exploring the potential for possible answers and solutions for achieving our goals. In fact, failure is a crucial part of goal achievement. It acts as life’s guiding light and as mother nature’s chisel, playing an important role in improving each subsequent iteration and generation of life.
But as much as we can reason about the importance of failure, when we’re going through it, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. It’s hard to overcome failure to achieve our goals when all we can see is pain and agony.
I’ve experienced my share of monumental failures. I know just how much it hurts to fail and to do it on a massive scale. Failure certainly left its mark on my life, and it wasn’t a simple matter of picking off the bloodied scar. The healing took time. But through it all, I came to some important realizations, much the same that other people do after pushing through failure.
I also came to realize that there are many ways to overcome failure and achieve your goals. However, all them require a major mental shift in thinking. It requires a certain way of looking at things in your life, and steering your thoughts in the right direction while sowing the seeds of success to reap the rewards at a later date.
Here are 5 ways that you can overcome failure in your own life to achieve your goals.
#1 — Realize that nothing worthwhile will come easy
We are such an instant gratification society. We want things and we want them now. Why should we have to wait when we have on-demand everything? From fast food to high-speed Internet access, along with a growing impatience for just about everything, it’s no wonder failure hurts so much.
We are so used to getting what we want and getting it quickly that we don’t realize just how much work and effort it’s going to take to achieve something notable. It takes time. But during that time, as we make the journey towards our goal, we build character and reach new understandings, possibly even discover a deeper meaning to our lives.
#2 — Ignore the naysayers, because they will be out in full force
The human mind works tirelessly to avoid pain. In fact, it does just about anything to avoid pain in any capacity. Part of the pain of failing has to do with dealing with other people telling you “I told you so,” or “You should have listened to me,” and “Quitting while you were ahead would have been a smarter move.”
The naysayers will be out in full force. But don’t listen to them. Ignore their calls and their cries to celebrate your demise. And just put your head down and keep plugging away. Just realize that people will always be there to celebrate your demise, but the true friends will be there to celebrate your successes and help inspire and push you to achieve your goals.
#3 — Success leaves clues, search for them high and low
While failure might be difficult, it’s also a time when we tend to search for clues, because success leaves clues. Seek and you shall find. Search for someone whose success you’re trying to emulate in whatever field it is you’re trying to achieve your goal in. Then, look for clues. What did they do? How long did it take? How many times did they fail?
People simply don’t realize that some of the most successful people have failed the most times. But the most significant distinction is that those people didn’t give up. That’s the biggest difference between those that succeed and those that don’t — their unrelenting spirit of persistence.
#4 — Look at it as a chance to face down your fears
Sometimes, it isn’t even the failure itself that scares people; it’s the fear of failing that holds them back from doing something. But, overcoming failure is also a chance to face down your fears. It’s a chance to overcome that innate desire to run far away and cower in some corner.
The pain-pleasure paradigm is very real. We will always do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. But, when we can leverage that knowledge and overcome our fears to achieve our goals, a transformational shift occurs. There’s an incredible feeling that goes along with it, and it’s an invaluable experience to pave the way for a lifetime of achieving goals.
#5 — Use failure as a learning experience
When we fail, it should be a chance to learn from our mistakes. When we can use that knowledge, put it behind our belts, and push forward, some tremendous things can happen. There are a number of ways we can actually learn from the failure, but in order to do so, we need to look at the failure objectively, like an outsider looking in.
Ask yourself why you failed. Where did you go wrong? What could you have done differently? Was it your plan? Was it because you failed to see something you should have seen? Did a bad habit do you in? Really look at it objectively and learn from it. Use that knowledge to improve yourself and try again. As long as you don’t give up, you can always overcome failure to achieve your goals.