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  • Writer's pictureJustin Tilghman, Ph.D.

Overcoming a Fear of Failure: Practical Steps

In this post, I aim to address one of the biggest hurdles many of us face in our lives: the fear of failure. This monster often surfaces when we are about to step into our full potential, hindering our progress.

However, by understanding this fear and equipping ourselves with the right tools, we can overcome it. Let's dive in.

Fear of failure is an inhibiting sensation that keeps us confined to our comfort zones, preventing us from trying, innovating, and growing. This fear arises when we perceive our failures as negative reflections of our capabilities or self-worth. However, it's time to change this narrative. Fear is a natural response, a survival instinct. Yet, in our complex world, fear surfaces not from physical threats but emotional or perceived threats, like failure.

So, how can we combat this fear of failure? Here are some strategies.

1. Reframe Failure:

We need to change our perspective on failure. It's not a reflection of your worth but rather a part of the process. To illustrate, consider Thomas Edison's invention of the incandescent light bulb. Edison failed multiple times before finding the correct approach. He saw each failure not as a setback, but as a learning experience. Adopt this growth mindset; view each failure as a stepping stone on your journey to success.

2. Visualize Your Success:

Spend time each day visualizing your goals and the steps to achieve them. Picture yourself successfully overcoming challenges. Feel the emotions associated with achieving your goals. This visualization will boost your self-confidence and reduce fear.

3. Use Affirmations:

The language we use to talk to ourselves matters. Begin speaking positively to yourself. Remind yourself of your abilities, strengths, and capacity to overcome hurdles. If you repeat negative affirmations such as "I'm a failure," you are more likely to fail. But if you say, "I'm going to be successful," then you'll start to see your journey as one of success.

4. Set Achievable Goals:

Huge, unrealistic goals can magnify your fear of failure. Instead, set achievable, smaller goals that align with your larger aim. Use the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) when setting your goals.

5. Build Resilience:

Cultivate resilience, the ability to bounce back from setbacks and failures. Develop a growth mindset, view failures as learning experiences, and keep going.

These strategies won't eliminate fear overnight. Overcoming fear of failure is a journey that may require outside help. As a coach, I often provide guidance, encouragement, and tools to help individuals navigate these challenges. If that's something you're interested in, reach out!

Remember, fear of failure is normal. It's part of life. But you are more than your fears, more than your failures. They do not define your worth. Your value as an individual goes beyond any failures. You have the tools to overcome this fear and live a life of clarity, confidence, and purpose.

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