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Overcoming Fear of Failure

We hear all the time about leaving our comfort zones and trying new things, or about taking chances and risks in order to grow. But most of us rarely follow that advice. We get comfortable in a routine and don’t want to leave it, despite understanding how doing so might help us. Breaking out of our comfort zone can cause some very real negative feelings – namely, fear. And fear often leads to procrastination as a means of avoiding failure.

  Maybe you’ve dreamed of writing a book someday or running a race, but you’ve been putting it off for one reason or another. Money might be an issue, or time. But most of the time it’s because we’re afraid of failing. Oh, we’ll try to pass it off as something else, but the fear of failure is a very big reason why most people struggle to do the things they’ve dreamed of doing. With failure might come judgement from others (or from ourselves), and this can be especially hard if you’re the type of person who wants to get something right the first time.

  The truth is, though, that the very act of doing something new means that you’ve already succeeded in leaving your comfort zone and learning something about yourself. And even if you didn’t accomplish what you wanted to, even if you “failed,” that doesn’t mean you can’t try again! So you’ve run your 5K and didn’t finish as fast as you wanted to – that’s okay! You set a goal and you worked toward it, and you can keep working toward it in order to accomplish what you want to accomplish!

  One of the most important things to remember is that you can always learn from your  mistakes. If you take a chance and it doesn’t work out, you’ve learned something that you never could have learned by staying in your comfort zone and not trying in the first place. Of course it’s important to think things through and not to take risks that could lead to serious harm for yourself or others. But it’s also important to recognize when you have serious reasons for not making a change, and when you’re holding back out of fear.

  It can be easy to fall into the trap of seeing only the worst case scenarios. Maybe you’ll quit your job to move to a different industry and not be able to find a new one. Maybe you’ll pick a degree that you love only to be broke and jobless when you graduate. But maybe these risks could lead to good outcomes as well – you could find the job of a lifetime or discover a newfound passion that you wouldn’t have realized otherwise.

  Failure is a scary thing, no doubt about it, and it can certainly seem like a good enough reason to keep from taking a chance. But is it really? Those risks and changes that seem so terrifying are opportunities for incredible growth and learning, and could lead to even more opportunities in the future. And the idea isn’t to simply ignore your fear, or to try to live without fear – it’s natural to be afraid and nervous when trying something different. Acknowledge that fear, but don’t be afraid to look past it and take those risks!