NE Life Coach and Fear of Failure

Fear of failure doesn’t just impact perfectionists.  It’s not just feeling a few butterflies when you’re trying something new; that little bit of anxiety is perfectly normal.  Fear of failure is more; fear of failure can prevent us from trying those new things, it can prevent us from accomplishing our goals and it can prevent us from living the life of our dreams.

Fear of failure means that we will do anything to avoid the possibility of it happening.  We will dilly-dally, we play it safe and we shy away from anything new because we don’t know if we will be good at it.

We become wonderful procrastinators; avoiding making decisions in case we make the wrong one!  Even if we do make a start, we can be tempted to give up quickly if we don’t immediately experience success.

Fear of failure will quickly lead us to a point where we are stuck; we are controlled by the fear.

When we let our fears control us, we get stuck; we can’t move forward, learn, and grow.

Fear of failure – how did it begin?

There can be a number of reasons:

  • Criticism
  • Being punished for making mistakes
  • You have always linked your self-worth to accomplishments
  • You are a perfectionist
  • You have ‘all or nothing’ thinking – it’s either perfect or a complete failure.

Whatever the cause, the common link lies in the way we think about failure. My invitation to you is to take a few moments to sit with the word ‘failure’ and notice what feelings come to the surface.

These will broadly fall into one of two categories where we see failure as:

  • proof of our shortcomings; it’s shameful; it’s devastating.
  • simply an opportunity to learn; it’s a normal and helpful experience.

Overcoming Fear of Failure

The first stage is to develop a healthier and more helpful way of viewing failure.

Failure is normal!

It certainly isn’t proof of inadequacy.  Everybody fails!  I find it useful to think of it as simply part of the process of learning.  Often, it’s only when things go wrong and we sort them out that we truly learn how something works.

Avoid personalising failure.

How often has your inner-critic whispered “you’re a failure’ until you are so convinced of this that you begin to think ‘I’m a failure’. This is completely different from the reality of “I failed to achieve my goal”.  Failure is part of what makes us human rather than being a flaw.

Look for the gift!

Every failure carries within it a gift of learning.  You may not see it immediately but it will become apparent over time.  Certainly, as I look back over past failures, I can now see what the gift was, I can see that the failing had to happen.

Ditch the ‘all or nothing’ thinking.

Success and failure are extremes on a continuum. Rather than something being a failure it may simply be a mistake, a setback, a stumble. Anytime you think of something negative, invite yourself to think of a positive and you will be able to maintain a balanced perspective.

Take it step by step.

If you’re terrified of spiders, you don’t begin by picking up a tarantula!  It may be that you start by looking at a picture of one.  You are still terrified of spiders, but today you can look at a picture, something you couldn’t do yesterday.

Progress v Perfection.

Let’s say that your goal for the week was to go for a walk every day.  At the end of the week you walked 5 out of 7 days.  Last week you walked on 3 days.  How will you view this?  Is it failure? Or could you choose the helpful option of recognised that you succeed on 5 days and you did more than last week so you are moving in the right direction?  It really is your choice.

It isn’t all about the end result. 

We can become very focused on the outcome and forget all our achievements along the way.  Take time to stop and recognise your success day to day.  Any successful outcome is simply the culmination of our daily efforts, our inputs.  Do remember how much you have achieved day to day, perhaps you could reflect and jot them down at the end of each day?


To arrange a free consultation Contact Lou

Or you can book a free consultation here Online Calendar

I will be running a number of free webinars in this group via Zoom.

  • An Introduction to Mindfulness.

  • Dealing with December Stress.

  • Making 2020 Your Year to Thrive.

Coming in the New Year:

  • Building your Confidence and Self-Belief.

  • Discovering your True Path.