A Foolproof Formula for Eliminating Your Fear of Failure

What stops you from truly being happy, feeling fulfilled and going after those things in life that you really want?

For many it´s what psychologists call atychiphobia (as in a-'tik-i-“fo-bE-a), though you may know it better as fear of failure.

Typical signs include worrying about:

  • What others think of you
  • Your ability to have what you want most in life
  • What you are capable of
  • Disappointing others
  • Expectations - both yours and those of other people

The biggest problem when it comes to dealing with a fear of failure is that it tends to operate on an unconscious level. That said, the feelings and thoughts associated with it can hold you back in so many areas of your life. They can have you missing out on promising opportunities or unintentionally sabotaging yourself to prove that your negative take on things is correct after all. 

How To Stop Fear of Failure´s Negative Influence

Still, there are two important things you can do to stop fear of failure from negatively influencing your behavior:

Step #1: Acknowledge The Fear

Failing can trigger feelings of disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness, regret, and confusion. It is important to acknowledge the way failure makes you feel and share those feelings with someone you trust.

Bringing these emotions out into the open can help keep them from expressing themselves in unwanted ways, through unconscious behavior. Reaching out to others for reassurance and understanding can help gain a new perspective on a situation that is making you fearful while also strengthening your sense of self-worth.

Step #2: Know What You Can Control...And What You Can´t

When doing something new, look for those things you know are within your control and focus on those. If there are aspects of the task that you feel are outside of your control, do a bit of brainstorming to see how you might be able master them through the help of others or by learning a new skill. Do your best to think outside the box.

For example, you´re struggling with finding a new job and have come to the conclusion that you just don´t know the right people.  What are some things you might do differently? What about reaching out to all your contacts, online and off, and just letting them know what you are looking for - most people are willing to help out where they can but if you never let them know what you need, there´s nothing they can do.

Use Experience As A Learning Tool

1) Welcome Growth

The first thing you can do is welcome growth with open arms. Understand that both victories and setbacks can make you stronger if you respond to them in the right way. When things don’t turn out according to plan, figure out what you need to do differently the next time around.

2) Question Your Fears

Ask yourself: Are my fears even rational? What are the chances (enter worst case scenario) could even happen?

Mark Twain once said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened." I love this quote because it captures perfectly just how many people end up worrying about negative results - even when there is no logical reason to do so. Keep in mind: if you put effort into what you are doing, there is no reason to assume you won´t get the results you are after.

3) Process Over Results

When we focus on things we can´t change, it makes us feel frustrated and unhappy. On the other hand, focusing on what you can control gives us a feeling of certainty and helps build confidence. So, instead...focus on the process, or what it is you need to DO, rather than on the end result you are aiming for.

4) Act Promptly

Procrastination is one common symptom of fear of failure. If you put things off because you feel anxious, start writing out timelines that will help you buckle down and stay on track.

5) Start Off Small

When doubts rear their ugly head, don´t give in. Break your projects down into more manageable steps. Ease into home improvement by organizing your hall closet before you try remodeling your kitchen, for example.

6) Be Prepared

Having a contingency plan can really come in handy. You’ll feel more confident taking risks if you analyze possible outcomes in advance and are prepared to switch up your approach as needed. 


7) Shift Your Self-Talk

Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself. Are you reinforcing your doubts or giving yourself encouraging and affirmative messages? Focus on choosing words that inspire and reassure you.

8) Focus on Success

What would your life be like if you had the confidence to pursue your dreams? Focus your energies on that. Picture it. Envision it in technicolor detail in your mind´s eye. The images you create may help you in clarifying your priorities and understanding exactly you need to channel your energy and actions.

9) Lighten Up

Learning to laugh at your mistakes or -  at least - take them in stride can help put fears into perspective. Work on loving and accepting yourself just as you are. And see each new challenge as an adventure; an opportunity to test and learn about yourself in the process.

And, lastly, remember that failure itself isn´t threatening. It´s just a form of feedback on where you are now in your abilities and your life. There is no reason to let imagined negative consequences turn it into anything more.  

About the Author Jan Marie Mueller

Jan Marie Mueller is founder of the inspirational blog ThinkBrilliantly and The Brilliance Community, a free Facebook group dedicated to empowering women to let their inner brilliance shine! Her mission is to help women everywhere shift the way they think about themselves, their world and those around them so they have the confidence to do, be and have what they want most in life!

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