Fear Of Failure: Symptoms, Causes And How To Overcome it

Fear Of Failure: Symptoms, Causes And How To Overcome it

Virtually everyone in or starting a new business has the fear of failure.

As an entrepreneur or freelancer you’ll have questions such as can I finance this business, is my idea crappy, can I grow this business? And the one we all have – “will this business fail?”.

I can tell you for free I also have the fear of failure.

A freelance company commissioned me to write the website content for another company that’s just developing its website.

In excitement I went through the company’s whitepaper and other documents to have an understanding of the company. Whilst doing this fear grips me.

Crippling fear that I couldn’t put pen to paper. Thinking hope I won’t mess this up, hope I won’t under deliver and every other negative thoughts you can imagine.

I read and reread every single document I was sent for the job. Even went on LinkedIn to read up on the CEO and other key staff. Seeing their achievements scared me more and I almost turned down the job. Thence wondering what could I possibly write to impress these Masters and Doctorate holders in physics and other fields.

I remember my favorite quote and decide to take the risk.

The only thing stopping you is you. – Unknown.

Fear of failure

And that’s when it occurred to me that I actually have the fear of failure to deal with before I can do the gig.

You are probably thinking “no I don’t have the fear of failure”. Well below are signs to help you determine if you actually do or not.

Signs of fear of failure

  • Concentrating on mundane tasks

If you find yourself concentrating on unimportant tasks – procrastinating, rather than working on your project at hand, you are experiencing fear of failure.

  • Lowering your goals

If you set a goal to hit the sky then turn around to say you want to hit the roof top that’s a symptom of fear of failure. You are scared you can’t hit the sky as you first thought.

  • Lowering expectations.

Lowering your / people’s expectations of you. When there’s fear you downplay your expectations of the result you can achieve. Likewise you sell yourself short to people. Because you fear you will underperform or deliver on the job.

  • Over planning and researching

Do you over plan or over research before you take on a project? That’s a sign of fear right there. It makes you keep planning, thinking you are missing something out. When you actually aren’t.

Causes of fear of failure

  • Previous failures

Past failures can cause you to freeze in fear whenever there’s a job to be done. Because it’ll keep recurring in your mind if you don’t get past it.

  • Scared of criticism

Not everyone takes criticism well especially when it comes from loved ones. But if your reaction to criticism is extreme that’s fear rearing its ugly head.

  • Being unsure of yourself

When you constantly doubt yourself it might just be fear trying to talk you into giving up.

  • Perfectionism

If you are like me you are probably a perfectionist. When I’m contracted to do a job I go overboard to ensure I give my best. Even when the job is done and dusted I keep hanging on to it thinking it’s not yet perfect and there’s something I ought to do to make it perfect. This is a clear sign of fear of failure.

How to overcome fear of failure in business

  • Forget past failures.

Learn the lessons from your experience, forget the failure and look ahead.

  • Imagine success.

Write down your goals, better still have a vision board.

Fear of failure

If you can dream it you can achieve it . – Zig Ziglar.

  • Dwell on your wins

Create a “Win folder” on your phone, computer or where you can easily find it. Either small or big wins. And whenever fear grips you just go through this file and get uplifted.

  • Have SMART goals.

Set small goals to achieve big goals. Having a big goal is scary on its own so break it down into bits. For example rather than setting a goal to sell millions in a year break it down to sell a couple of thousands in a day.

  • Believe in yourself.

Be positive. Use mantras if you have to.

  • Keep learning.

Never stop learning. Only the dead stops learning. There’s always something new to learn.

  • Face your worst case scenario

Fear makes you think the worst will happen so ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen if you fail. Then face that scenario. You will realize it’s not that bad.

  • Experiment

Always see a new project first as an experiment. Simulate situations that can arise while doing that project and proffer solutions. This prepares you ahead for the real deal.

It’s normal to feel fear when you are about to embark on a project but don’t let it talk you out of doing what you have to do.

Funny thing is when I finished the job I spoke of earlier the only complaint is I overpromised on their services. I promised their readers more than they are willing to deliver. Asides that they were cool with every other thing. Let’s just say I was over excited on their behalf.

So if you can set aside your fear and go ahead, you will discover fear is just a tool to help you do better than your average.

The best line to tow with your fear of failure is to see it as your ally and not a bad thing. And if you do fail eventually – know this – failure isn’t a bad thing, it’s what you do after the failure that counts.

What’s been your experience with failure? Do share in the comments.

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