How to Overcome Fear of Failure
Updated: May 12
Why do we fear success?When we think we will fail at something, a type of paralysis sets in. But honestly, this is just in our minds. Here I ask you sixteen questions to help you to get out of the fear of failure (or any fear in fact) to get what you want.
It may be that you want to put yourself ‘out there’ in some way, to start a business, quit your job, apply for a new job, change career, move abroad, commit to or end a relationship, learn to drive or develop another new skill. Yet the thought of failing is holding you back.
Fear, especially that of failure, is just an unfounded excuse to stop you moving forward, stepping into and embracing the unknown. The mind wants you to hesitate, to procrastinate. It says ‘I am quite comfortable with where we are, thank you very much. I am content in the safety of the predictable.’
In NLP, one of the Beliefs of Excellence is ‘There is no such thing as failure.’ Did you know that when you think you have previously failed at something, you actually just received feedback on how to do it differently next time? For example, a friend told me she had failed at her first marriage. In fact, she didn’t fail; she just received feedback on how to be married next time.
In this article, I will ask you sixteen questions to help you overcome your fear of failure and get what you want. Carve yourself out 20 minutes to answer these questions honestly. There is a downloadable PDF worksheet at the end of the article which you can use to fill in with your personalized answers.
Let's get started...
1. Firstly, ask yourself ‘What do I want?’ This is your goal. Be specific; knowing clearly what you want makes it easier to get it!
Time for a reality check
2. What EXACTLY are you scared of? Again, be specific here as it is the key to learning how to get past whatever it is you are scared of.
3. What evidence do you have that what you’re saying is true / that it will actually happen? Have you ever tried exactly the same thing before, at the same point in your life?
4. What is more important, your goal or your fear?
5. When you say yes to the fear, what are you saying no to? Example, 'When I say yes to fear, I am saying no to personal development, no to implementing a change I'm desperate to make and no to creating the life I want to live.'
6. When do you think you made the decision to believe this fear? This may give a clue that you are linking this current endeavor with a previous experience... which is in the past and not the same as your current position.
7. If this fear did not exist, what would you do? Would you stride forward and achieve?
8. What’s the worst that can happen? And being the magnificent person that you are, you really can recover from this, right?
Take a look at your future
9. Will your life/wellbeing improve when you get past this fear and get what you want?
10. What won't happen if you keep believing this fear to be true?
11. What will happen if you keep believing this fear to be true?
12. Where will you be in 2 years if you don’t go for your goal?
Build your self belief and confidence
13. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
14. What needs to happen in order for you not to let this fear stop you getting what you want? When you have the answer to this question, ask yourself 'How can I make this happen?' If you choose something you are in control of, you can make it happen. If you choose something you are not in control of, you are at the behest of others or the universe. What can you do to be in control?
15. What is one next step you can take to move forward towards your goal? Ask yourself this again once you have achieved said step, and repeat: one step, what next step, one step, what next step.
16. What can you say differently to yourself? This will help you change your self talk.
How has your fear changed now, after answering these questions?
How much more achievable does your goal feel?
How much more determined are you to go for it?
How much more do you see your strengths, power and determination?
Here is the downloadable PDF worksheet featuring these sixteen questions and space for you to write your personal answers. Keep it filed and refer back to it if that pesky fear re-emerges and threatens to hold you back from getting what you want and being the best version of you.
What can you do now?
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