Ten Ways to Overcome the Fear of Failure

Once you’ve failed at something, it’s hard to forge ahead because you’re afraid of failing again. Everyone fails at something at one time in their life or another, but the best thing to do is get right back up on that proverbial horse and don’t let fear hold you back.

This is easier said than done because overcoming that distinct fear of failure is hard to do. There are several techniques and measures you can make use of in order to help you overcome your fears.


1. Tell yourself “I can do this”. Remember the children’s story, “The Little Engine that Could”? In the story the train couldn’t get up the hill and he kept telling himself “I think I can, I think I can” and lo and behold he succeeded! Yes, you may have failed at something in the past, but that doesn’t mean you will fail again. Even if it’s an attempt at something you’ve never tried, keep in mind the old adage “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. If you fail you can say at least you took that chance; if you never even tried, you lose, but it’s worse than failing because you’ll never have made the attempt. Keep positive and give it your best shot, because reaching a level of confidence is a definitive measure of success.

2. Maintain a positive attitude. A positive approach to situations can make or break them. I think when we look at the glass as half full instead of empty it opens up a realm of possibilities and motivates us to give those intimidating things a try. Don’t think of it as failure, view failures as learned lessons. Over the course of our lives we learn from our mistakes and viewing them as a positive not a negative can do wonders.

3. Focus on your inner self and do some self-reflection. Why is it you are afraid of failure? Is it because of past mistakes or just the fear of failure itself? Often if we look deep within ourselves we realize the opportunity is worth the risk and it also is a way to discover what it truly is we want to achieve; this can inspire resilience.

4. Baby steps. If your fear is extreme or truly preventing you from moving forward or making those much needed changes in your life, don’t jump in full force, take it a bit slower and get your feet wet a little bit at a time. This sometimes eases you into an opportunity; depending on the situation this may not be possible, but if it is, it can help ease the transition.

5. Talk to others. Reach out and communicate with others who have dealt with the same issue you feel you’ve failed at. See what made them succeed and if they have any tips. If anything, they’ll likely be able to offer some moral support so when the going gets tough, you have some words of wisdom to fall back on.

6. Think about worse case scenarios. If you don’t succeed, what will the outcome be? Is it something so terrible or is it something manageable? Often when we look at things in this perspective we realize it’s not as bad as we think and this alone helps mitigate some of the fear.

7. Be persistent. Keep trying, to quote another old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try again”. Everyone has failures from time to time, but failures provide us with the wisdom to not make the same mistakes twice. When we relentlessly don’t give up, this too can inspire confidence because determination replaces fear as the leading emotion.

8. Is the risk worth it? Most of the time, the answer will be yes and this attributes to overcoming fear because hopes and goals will shine through any fear which may exist. Sure, some apprehension may still be present, but the focus will be on trying instead of fear of failure.

9. Identify your fear. What is it that is driving the fear factor? Is it because you failed at something in the past or is it fear of the unknown? Once we can effectively establish what the fear is, it is easier to manage because we know what it is we are up against.

10. Mobilize your fear. Take your fears and make them work for you. Use them as the driving force to conquer your hesitations by allowing them in to inspire and motivate you rather than languish within you.

Overcoming fear is one of the biggest obstacles people have with change. Change is intimidating, but much good can come from change, but you’ll never know unless you try. By not letting fear run the show, you can ultimately discover your fears are conquered and you’ll have more confidence when the next big decision or change arrives.