Written by Grace Osborne • Updated August 25, 2021
How to overcome the fear of failure
Nobody enjoys failing. Fear of failure can be so strong that it overrides the motivation to succeed and stops you from even trying in the first place. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly causes many people to unconsciously sabotage their chances for success.
But fear is part of human nature. Read below how you can learn to shift your mindset once negative thoughts start coming up. These are 5 proven strategies to overcome the fear of failure and perfectionism so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.
Failure is often a vital ingredient to success. We must fundamentally reframe our mindset and perception of failure in order to overcome our fear of it.
Opening yourself up to failure is incredibly important to achieving your goals. Here are my 5 key tips for overcoming the fear of failure:
#1 Enjoy the process - failure is part of success
‘Failing comes part and parcel with invention. It’s not optional. We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right’ – Bezos. As a society we see failure as detrimental to success, but failure is not a destination; it is merely a step on the journey to success. Reframe your mindset around failure, it is not an end destination unless you allow it to be.
#2 Mistakes are an incredibly powerful way to learn
In the belief that you learn best by doing, there is value in failure, and it can stand to be life’s ultimate lesson. Through failure you will get to know yourself, rethink, reframe and reconsider. Failing will tend to happen no matter how hard you try to avoid it so adopting a ‘no fear’ attitude is critical when you’re working towards achieving your goals.
#3 Get started before you are ready
There is never a perfect time to start something and if you wait until you’re ‘ready’ you might never start. Getting out of your comfort zone by doing things before you are ready is incredibly important. Planning can go too far and create paralysis, acting creates momentum and the knowledge gained by moving forward will accelerate this and accelerate you towards achieving your goals.
#4 Become aware of your self talk
Perfectionism tends to go hand in hand with an inner voice which is highly self-critical. Self-talk can be related to fears, confidence, worries, performance and these thought patterns take up valuable brain space. We need to pay attention to our thoughts, because these subconscious beliefs can reinforce neuro-pathways which can impact our actions. Self-talk is something we all do naturally throughout our days and research shows that people who can master positive self-talk are thought to be more confident, motivated, and productive.
#5 Set yourself realistic goals
Goals can be classed as approachable goals or avoidance goals aligned with either being motivated to achieve a positive outcome or avoid an adverse one. When you’re dreading a task you may unconsciously set goals around what you don’t want to happen rather than what you do. Break goals down into milestones so they become less overwhelming and focus on positive outcomes rather than avoiding adverse ones.
Allow yourself the freedom to fail. You will be surprised by how much you learn from it. As the famous Thomas Edison said, when it took 1000 tries for him to create electricity: "I have not failed a thousand times. I have just found a thousand ways it won't work"
So don't let failure stop you. It could lead you to your biggest success yet!
Former athlete & founder of NaturalGrace
About the author
Grace is the founder of Natural Grace a luxury sustainable sportswear brand for women who make an impact. As an ex track runner, running is a big part of her life, passionate about performance sport and the planet around her