How to Overcome Fear of Failure

If you fear failing, you are certainly not alone!

The ‘What If it doesn’t work out?’ or ‘What If I fail?’ question keeps you caught up in worrying about the consequences of a wrong decision. Your future imagining of all those possible negative outcomes stops you from taking responsibility and action in the present.

For me personally, I have always found the key is to stay true to yourself and to your values. What is the pressure you feel under and where is it coming from? Is it the expectations of others who have influence over you, or are you perhaps placing unrealistic demands on yourself?

It is worth remembering that all failure is merely an opportunity to learn and grow. It means you have not mastered a particular skill YET! Asking yourself what do I need to learn to achieve this in the future helps you grow. Sometimes when things don’t work out, it is simply an indication that you need to change direction.


Define What Success Means to You

For every challenge you set yourself, define at the outset what success will look like, so that you recognize it when you get there. Focus more on the fun of learning new things and new skills along the way, rather than just the final outcome. Be sure to acknowledge the effort and incremental achievements. This will help you to nurture your self-worth along the way, even if you don’t get the final outcome you want.


Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

What feelings surface for you when you fail? Learn to get comfortable with the uncomfortable feelings failure can create – embarrassment, sadness, guilt, anger. When you worry less about coping with these feelings, you will fear failure less.


‘Fail to plan and you plan to fail’

This is a very true saying! Make sure you prepare well in advance for any exam, project or presentation and you will hugely increase your chances of success. It will help to calm your nerves too because you’ll know you have already the put the work in to learn what you needed to learn, so that you can deliver.


Get Confident in How You Will Cope

Dare to go to the worst-case scenario of failing if you put yourself out there, and identify what it is you are most afraid of? Challenge your fears by working out how you will cope if it goes wrong, telling yourself “So What If ‘x’ happens, I will do ‘xyz.”


Do It For You

In what way might you be seeking approval by trying to meet others’ expectations? Why does it matter so much what they think of you? If you feel your parents’ love or approval hangs on what you do rather than who you are, I’d urge you to question them about this – the chances are you may be pleasantly mistaken.


Give Yourself a Break

Work on accepting yourself fully for who you are with your faults and inadequacies alongside your strengths and your talents. Every human is imperfect and fallible. You are no different.
Cultivate friendships and relationships that are encouraging, loving and supportive. Surround yourself with positive feedback and you will find it easier to practice healthy self-talk.


Learn From Those Who Failed Before You

Take time to ask people you respect about how they have failed in their life at times, and recovered to achieve success later on. What did they learn along the way and how did they better themselves as a result?

Research how some famous people failed at first but then achieved great success. This will motivate you to remember that failure is often part of the journey to success.

If you are struggling to cope with your feelings of failure and want to talk it through, please contact me for further support.


Lisa Skeffington Help for Anxiety

Lisa Skeffington


Lisa Skeffington

Anxiety Expert – Anxiety Help Bournemouth & Christchurch, UK
Support Nationally and Internationally In-Person and Online


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