Managing the Fear of Failure

Sometimes it becomes difficult to look at everything you want to accomplish and know that you are a long way from fulfilling these goals. It is easy to lose yourself in the fear of failure, in the fear of not being good enough, when life seems all too overwhelming.

I think at some point in our lives, we all go through a period of intense panic and question what we have or have not achieved. The Internet allows us to quickly compare our failures and successes to those of other people. You read news articles about twelve year old kids who manage to start their own companies or graduate from college. Those feats seem so astounding that you end up asking yourself “what have I done that could possibly compare?” 

For a long time, I had a bad habit of comparing myself to other people. I looked at every little problem that I saw in myself and sized it up against the good things that I saw in other people. I pitted every one of my failures against someone else’s successes, and it made me miserable.

It took some time for me to understand, but I eventually realized that this is such a distorted way of looking at life. There isn’t an algorithm that translates your failure into another’s success. And there isn’t a healthy way to compare yourself to other people. We are all human beings, which means we all go through good times and bad times, successes and failures. Just because someone else has already accomplished one of your goals doesn’t mean that you will never accomplish it. We need to ignore our desire to compare ourselves if we want to get things done. Fretting over the bad won’t make anything better.

I stumbled upon this great quote on Pinterest the other day that reads “imagine if we obsessed about the things that we loved about ourselves.” I think this is a great message for people who struggle with insecurity and the fear of failure. We don’t sit around picking apart all the good that we accomplish, so why do we do that with the bad? Being happy with yourself and learning to let go of comparisons is all we can do in the quest for success. Instead of berating yourself for the things you don’t like, focus on the things you do. Use your beloved qualities to push yourself forward. Don’t allow useless fears to derail you.

Once you realize that you are your own person and not inherently linked to the accomplishments of other people, the world opens up a bit. It doesn’t matter if someone else graduated from college at the age of twelve, or became a successful businessperson. You are your own individual. Nothing that others have done can prevent you from doing the same. Letting go might be a challenge, but it will help you live fuller and achieve greater things. I wish you luck in all of your endeavors.

 

How do you handle the fear of failure? 

Sincerely,

Paige

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Hi, I'm Paige and my favorite things are lipstick, books, and coffee.

20 thoughts on “Managing the Fear of Failure

  1. This is great insight on a very common issue I think we all as humans face. It is relevant to me on a personal level as I recently had one of those mental breakdowns thinking “what the hell have I done?!”. For me, it comes from knowing my potential but simultaneously wanting things to materialize immediately which we all know isn’t feasible. I’ve found celebrating small wins on a consistent basis and setting extremely tangible short term goals makes the larger vision more manageable. Also, keeping in mind like you said- that life is full of valleys and peaks and just because you’re down doesn’t mean you won’t be up again. Thanks again for your timely and timeless piece

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  2. Love this, Paige!! Every word of this rings so true with me. Personally, I manage my fear of failure by breaking my goals into bite sized chunks. It’s like when I’m running a marathon. I don’t think about going 26.2 miles the second I cross the start line. Instead, I just focus on making it to Mile 1. Then Mile 2, and so on.

    I try to approach life the same way. Some day I want to be a professional blogger, but it can feel very scary and intimidating to know how far I have to climb to get there. So I am trying to focus on manageable goals first and not even give the ultimate goal too much thought.

    Thank you for this lovely piece! xo

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  3. Your post was a eye opener for me! I unfortunately compare myself to others way too much and it always puts me down, and my self esteem and suffers greatly from it! I don’t handle fear as well as I would like to, and most of the time I give up before I even try. This is something I really need to work on! This makes me want to accomplish everything that scares the daylights out of me! Thank you!!!

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  4. I can completely relate to this. I have fear of failure everyday, and yes, the internet doesn’t always help. My solution used to be jealousy and envy, but that is so toxic to your self. Whenever I feel a negative emotion of that sort that I can actively identify, I try to ask myself why I feel that way and turn it around. It isn’t easy. It’s difficult. It’s a shift of habit. It’s possible 🙂

    https://bybreannamarie.com/

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  5. I find the fear of failure sometimes debilitating . Harsh judgement from peers ; my perception ; old wounds that haven’t healed, and just not having the coping tools to handle what I perceive as a failure. I would love to be able to fail and not cut myself apart, but instead be able to look at it effectively.

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  6. Truth! Letting go of the fear can be liberating and open you up to tonnes of opportunities!

    Comparing yourself to others and picking apart the bad, as you said, won’t do you any good and will only drag you down. So as you mentioned, focussing on what you’re doing and reminding yourself of your good qualities are important to get over that fear and believe in yourself more. 🙂

    As linked to this, I think what can also be motivating is realising all the good that can come when you face your fear and try new things. The various possibilities may give you a boost and push you towards your goals. As such, I wrote an article highlighting the several benefits of trying something new. Do have a look at it here: https://revitellect.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/why-you-need-to-try-new-things/

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  7. This is a great post. For me personally, the fear of failure happens I guess when my dance teacher wants me to ‘perform’ and really ‘sell’ my performance in the dance….I’m always scared I’ll get it wrong or look stupid! Even 8 years into it I still struggle but have to just keep telling myself I can do it and I have to at least give it a go! It can make you want to ground to open up and swallow you whole though!!! xx

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    1. Thank you! And I know what you mean! I used to play competitive tennis and I was always afraid that I would mess up or foolish. It took a while for me to become comfortable with the fact that sometimes I would mess up or look foolish, but that was inevitable! Once I realized that, I became a lot more relaxed

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  8. Such a great topic. It is so true that we tend to pick apart all the negatives, failures and imperfections in our lives but don’t take the time to do the same with the positive things and the things we have accomplished. For some reason it is just so much easier focusing on the bad! I think what is important is that we can be our biggest cheerleader if we choose to be.

    For me, my fear of failure is thinking that I won’t settle down and be living comfortably in a few years, it’s so scary!

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