“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. “ – William G.T. Shedd
Lately, I’ve been observing feelings of fear of failure in myself and others to learn more about it and how to overcome it. It’s been something I have struggled with a lot on a daily basis and still am. It’s the areas of life we care the most about, that the fear of failure sabotages us the most. Everything from parenting, relationships, career, habits and new lifestyle choices.
What I’ve learned from all these situations, is that there are many people, myself included, who settle for less happier life, because of fear to make a mistake and fear to fail. Sometimes, it can paralyze us to the extend that we stop listening to our heart and choose the safe road, just to avoid any failure.
So many of us let go of our life calling, don’t voice our opinions, don’t start businesses, don’t exercise, eat healthier or do what we truly love. All because deep down in our heart someone or something has convinced us, that it’s better to not try at all than to fail.
If we take second to think about it, then we can see how silly it is, but it can be a challenge to remind ourselves about it in our daily life.
The option of failure prevents us from living fully here and now. It paralyzes our mind, freezes our heart and shuts down the glow of our spirit. New doors don’t open to us, because we’re afraid to discover what’s behind them, so we stay with what we feel is safe and known.
I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times I’ve let fear of failure to control me. Last time it happened, was when I observed myself swishing to sign up for a 10 K race. I know you’re thinking, what’s the big deal here?! But it was quite real to me at the time and I can imagine we all have these seemingly small stuff prevent us from growing.
As soon as I realised I wanted to actually run it, millions of excuses showed up. Everything from looking ridiculous to seriously worrying that I fail to even run 5 K. Instantly my mind started playing horror scenarios in my mind, why I really shouldn’t do it. I even bought into my own scary thoughts for a couple of months. Then, I took a deep breath, my hands were even shaking and just decided to sign up for the 10 K.
I have to admit, it felt so good to take the very first step to believe in myself more than I believed in the fear of failure that my mind was feeding me with, which at that time was very real, because I could only run 1 K.
I realized later, it only took that short moment of courage to make the difference in my life. So maybe it’s ok, if we’re brave for short moments at the time.
If I look at some of the best things I’ve done in life, they all have one thing in common, I had to over win fear of failure for a short second, lay the option of failing openly on the table and pour my heart and soul into my commitment.
Even though I’ve taken some steps to overcome it in some areas of my life, I still face it everyday. It’s a process not an end destination, so go easy on yourself and give yourself some high fives once in a while and don’t forget to enjoy the process and remember you’re not alone.
Here are some the few steps, that have helped me in my process.
1. Awareness. Notice the fear of failure and just watch it for some time. Get to know it. Don’t ignore it, just allow it to be. Then when ever you feel comfortable, bring out all the courage you have and go for what you want, despite the fear. It’s like giving a speech, you’re nervous before it and the first few moments into it, but then courage takes over and it feels great.
2. Motivation. Check the vibe of your motivation for that commitment or goal. Is it driven by joy or achievement? I for example never succeeded with running before, because my motivation had always just been to lose some little weight. When I started running to feel good and joy came in, it totally changed the energy about this commitment that I wanted in my life.
3. Take baby steps. This is truly the key to starting anything. Take one small step at the time. Then repeat. Do it again. I’ve always been the planner type, goal setter, but now I believe that huge goals early on can simply kill the joy. When I started running my goal (and success rate) was simple, to put on my running shoes and step outside. That’s all. It made possibility to fail close to non existing. I didn’t vision to run 10 K, but I do now. I know now I can do it, but if I hadn’t taken the baby step, I wouldn’t have arrived at where I am now. :D
4. Consistency & persistence. It’s quite simple. Fears don’t get to control you, if you do something about the commitment of your choice every single day. Even the smallest steps count, as long as you just do it and keep doing it. One step at the time.
Related articles & videos:
The Illusion of Success
5 Ways To keep Your Fire Lit
How fear of failure destroys success
Overcoming My Fear of Failure
Living With Fire And desire