Psychologists call it atychiphobia, but you may know it better as fear of failure. Whatever you call it, those misgivings can hold you back in your career and personal life. You may miss out on promising opportunities or unintentionally sabotage yourself to prove that your gloomy outlook is correct.
What stops you from living up to your potential and going after what you really want?
Try this foolproof formula that will help you to understand and overcome your self-doubts.
- Welcome growth. Victories and setbacks can both make you stronger depending on how you respond to them. When things don’t turn out the way you planned, figure out what you need to do differently next time.
- Develop contingency plans. You’ll feel more confident taking risks if you analyze the possible outcomes in advance. That way, you can be prepared to switch your approach if needed.
- Start off small. If you’re paralyzed by doubts, break your projects down into more manageable steps. Ease into home improvement by organizing your hall closet before you try remodeling your kitchen.
- Hold yourself accountable. Acknowledging your mistakes is the first step in being able to learn from them. Take responsibility for your actions and choices.
- Identify factors within your control. Target areas where you’ll enjoy the most payoff. You may not be able to do much about the way your boss micromanages you, but you can change your own communication strategies.
- Think positive. Remind yourself of what you have to gain. Give yourself credit for venturing beyond your comfort zone.
- Change your self-talk. Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself. Are you reinforcing your doubts or giving yourself encouraging and affirmative messages? Choose words that inspire and reassure you.
- Reach out to others. Let others know that you welcome constructive feedback. Thank them for their input and tell them when their advice helps you to perform more effectively.
- Explore root causes. It may help to know where your fear of failure came from so you can spot your triggers. Maybe you became reluctant to try new things after your parents or an elementary school teacher criticized you harshly. Maybe you’re feeling shaky after a recent divorce or layoff.
- 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.
- Focus on progress. Perfectionism can also be an obstacle. Instead of trying to be flawless, take satisfaction in setting challenging goals and making an effort to achieve them. Compete with yourself instead of trying to meet unattainable standards.
- Calculate costs. While you’re contemplating what could go wrong if you speak up at meetings or ask someone out for a date, you may be overlooking the price of inaction. Imagine what you could be missing out on each time you hesitate.
- Visualize success. Picture what your life would be like if you had the confidence to pursue your dreams. The images you bring to mind may help you to clarify your priorities and understand where to channel your efforts.
- Lighten up. Your mistakes may be a great source of entertainment if you can love and accept yourself as you are. Humor helps to put fears in perspective.
Enjoy more happiness and success by coming to terms with your fear of failure. When you commit yourself to learning from experience, you may still feel unsure of yourself sometimes. However, you’ll stop letting your doubts get in the way of pursuing your goals.