Do you have a specific goal in mind?
But does the thought of tackling that goal paralyze you?
If you fear you’ll fail, look stupid because you’re not fast enough, not athletic enough, you’ll want to know how fear of failure destroys success and what you can do to move past it.
Fear of failure adopts many forms – from fearing a DNF, to worrying about your training, or hitting the wall.
It can have its roots in perfectionism, where the voices in your head tell you, “Why bother investing effort into something that might end in failure? It’s only worth it if you can perform perfectly and succeed at it.”
These thoughts make you tense, stalls progress, and eats away at your mental wellbeing.
Fear of failure is a prison – it locks you in, preventing you from venturing outside your comfort zone.
Fear of failure keeps you from reaching your potential.
How fear of failure destroys success and moving through the fear
If fear has a stranglehold on you, think about why this goal is important to you. Answering this is a crucial piece of the puzzle and gives your goal meaning.
If you don’t pursue your goal today, how will you feel about it in 10 months? A year from now? What about in 10 years? Would you wish you would have done what was on your list?
Are you pursuing this goal for internal motivations (the challenge, or to gain mastery), or for external ones (medals, recognition)?
You’re far more likely to find success with internal motivators than with external ones.
And, are you willing to accept the highs and lows associated with pursuing this goal? No? Time to find a different goal.
The takeaway: get clear on why you’re chasing this goal to help you power through the fear of failure.
How to prevent the fear of failure from ruining your success
Planning for the worst case scenario is like a safety net – it strengthens confidence and relieves fears.
For example, worried you’ll forget something on race day? Use these checklists to ensure nothing’s missed.
Expect pre-race nerves? Learn how to calm your pre-race anxiety.
Foresee dwindling motivation as you’re working toward your goal? Read: How to stay focused on long-term goals.
Expect and pinpoint the obstacles. Then, create an action plan to clear the hurdles.
Breathe through the fear
Fear causes a physical flight or fight response, but the good news is, you can combat adrenaline, stay calm and focused with one simple technique – box breathing.
It’s a breath control method traditionally used in the military to create a sense of calm during stressful moments.
Here’s how to do it.
1| Find a comfortable position, with your back straight, chin tucked, and close your eyes.
2| Place your hands on your knees and pay attention to your breath.
3| To warm up, inhale deeply and count to four. Then, exhale for a count of four.
4| Then, for the main set, inhale and count to four.
5| Hold your breath and count to four. If you find your mind wandering, gently bring your thoughts and attention back to breathing.
6| Exhale slowly, for four counts.
7| Hold your breath again, for four counts.
8| Don’t be hard on yourself when your mind wanders. Anytime you find yourself distracted, bring your attention back to your breathing.
How fear of failure destroys success: what you can do today
But what happens if you tried something and it still didn’t work? Much like recovery days after a hard workout, you’ll need time and space to recover after a failed attempt.
Here you’ll find three steps to help you rebuild your mental fortitude.
- Reach out to an empathetic friend.
- Talk to yourself the same way you would if a close friend was in this position. What would you say?
- Face your failure and remember, you aren’t your failure and it doesn’t define you.
Failure isn’t final and you get to write the ending to this journey.
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Sources: How fear of failure destroys success and what you can do about it