Fear of failure – which we’ll call ‘FOF’, firstly because it’s fun to say out loud and secondly because a good way to dismiss something that needs to be dismissed is to make it sound silly – is almost such an obvious problem that it feels lazy to write about it.
But I wouldn’t want to fail you by ignoring it.
Of course you’re worried about getting things wrong. Of course you’re worried about investing money in something that might work. Of course you’re worried about saying to your family, friends, colleagues and peers: “This is who I am. Judge me.”
1. Reframe it
FOF means you care about yourself. That’s great! It means you are pushing your boundaries, that you tried. Perhaps you should spend more time questioning the moments you aren’t worrying about failing?
2. Understand it
What’s the cause? I’ve mentioned before that it took me twenty years to pick up an instrument after a music teacher told me not to bother when I was in school. As soon as I realised there was no justification to care about her opinion I was fine.
3. Face it head on
Shut your eyes and jump, at least figuratively. I found myself shivering on the banks of the River Avon on New Year’s Day, having foolishly committed to swimming across it as a ‘good way’ to start the year. There is a last final moment where you realise you don’t really need to do this, but also a realisation that it’s just as easy to lean forward and … how bad could it be?
(It was very cold but a wonderful, positive experience. Recommended.)
4. Embrace it
Failing can be great. You try something, it doesn’t work but you learn something new and then you move on. You might even discover some new ideas. Your life, right from the first day you tried to walk (and failed) has been a curve of learning experiences. What’s wrong with having another?
5. Commit to it
We’ve covered this before, but work out the smallest action you can take which will commit you to your goal. Financial is often good. Or involve other people. Make the booking. Send the email.
6. Most failure is temporary
You probably won’t even remember something going wrong in six months, a year, five years. And other people certainly won’t.
7. Which will you regret more?
I’ve generally regretted the things I’ve not done more than the things I have. Inertia is not a decision.
One last thing: did you say ‘FOF’ out loud?
Add your thoughts below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d prefer to keep it confidential.