Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Failure in any of its forms, professional or personal, can discourage us from embarking on new endeavors. Here are five strategies to overcome the fatal “what ifs” and defeat your fear of failure.
- Pinpoint exactly what you’re afraid of: by locating the source of your fear, it can be much easier to challenge it or plan around it. It might even sound so unlikely that it ceases to be a fear.
- Answer your “what if?” questions: when you answer the “what if” question, you work through the worst-case scenario and come out on the other side with a plan. Suddenly, you know how you would either rectify the situation or take care of yourself and move on, which instantly makes things less scary.
- Stop visualizing success: our positive visualizations are idealized versions of our goals—in our mind’s eye, success is total and complete, costs are negligible, exertion is light, and the number of newbie ‘oopsies’ are few. With this idealized image in mind, we may lose motivation to dig deep or focus our energy. Instead, reflect on the obstacles that stand in the way of that future. Only when you do that will you stop fantasizing and start doing.
- Focus on the process, not the end result: set attainable goals and go after them. And most importantly, enjoy the ride.
- Remember failure is fleeting: when we say we fear failure, what we truly fear is being a failure, which we perceive as something permanent and irredeemable. By contrast, the experience of failure is temporary and changeable. It doesn’t feel good while it’s happening, but you always learn something and then?
Whether you botched a project, ended a relationship, or lost a game, remember failure is part of the process. It’s a stopover, a natural part of life that we can learn from and move on from.