Fear of Failure

The fear of failure can be an intense feeling that can make it difficult to achieve your goals. The “what if” can stop even the most motivated person in their tracks and cause them to not reach their full potential. The fear of failure can come about any time we’re unsure of the outcome of a situation and can affect your work, your family, or your personal goals. However, conquering the fear of failure is an easy task that can help you move through your fear of failure and allow you to achieve your goals.

Set small goals
If your main goal seems daunting or too overwhelming, its easy to talk yourself out of wanting to achieve it. Breaking a larger goal into smaller, achievable goals can be a great way to get to your ultimate goal without becoming overwhelmed in the process. For example, if you want to run a marathon in a year, start by signing up for a 5k, a 10k and then a half marathon. This gradual increase in mileage will make it easier to train and will also allow you to get accustomed to longer runs and races in general. This method will also help you gain confidence along the way, making your ultimate goal even more achievable.

But never lose sight of the reason you started
Even though it may help if you break up a complicated task into smaller ones, never lose sight of the reason you started. That way, if you get sidetracked, you have the focus to realign yourself and put yourself back on the correct path. Focusing on the bigger picture during times of trouble can make it less likely that you’ll quit. If you’re on a weight loss journey and have hit a plateau, remember why you began. Playing tag with your kids, feeling radiant on your wedding day, or finally have the energy to take the stairs to work; whatever the motivation, make sure you always remember your “why.”

Get to the bottom of your feelings
The fear of failure may be stemming from deeper feelings or ongoing issues from the past. If you’re not achieving a goal because you’re afraid to fail, ask yourself why you’re feeling that way. Do you not feel like you’re good enough or you “don’t deserve” to succeed? Are you worried about what people will think if you become successful or step out of your comfort zone to do something that you’ve always wanted to do? Do you think people will make fun of you if you try and don’t achieve your goals? Taking a deep dive into why you’re afraid to fail may help you work through those feelings to understand the underlying cause of your fear of failure.

Embrace the fear
Sometimes, you just need to jump in with both feet and see what happens. Embracing the fear of doing something different may help you get over the fear of failing. Using the fear of change as a motivator and not a roadblock may be the mentality shift you need to make amazing things happen in your life.

If you still need some additional help getting over your fear of failure, talk to your therapist. They can offer various methods of coping that can help you embrace change and conquer your fears.

Dr. Takos is a Newport Beach Psychologist specializing in the treatment of adolescents and adults suffering from depression, anxiety, and trauma-and stressor-related disorders.