Fight the Fear of Failure

Posted by on Jul 1, 2004 in Success!Ezine For You



E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2004


The fear of failure will hold you back. Many people don’t get ahead in life because they fear stepping out of their comfort zone. They keep doing the same things the same way, looking for different results without realizing that success requires taking some risks. Often they’ve been subjected to a lot of criticism in their lives – particularly when they’ve tried to think for themselves or do something new. They learned to “play it safe” – even to their own detriment, rather than experience possible disappointment or defeat and have to hear about it from others. Unfortunately, this approach prevents progress. It keeps you stuck marching in place rather than forging a new path that may mean greater opportunities and happiness for you.

  • Where do you want to go?

Part of tackling the fear of failure is deciding what success looks like. Where are you trying to get to? If it’s a new job, what will it entail? Where is it located ideally? Visualize the plan. Give it some life. You can’t attain something when you have no idea what it is. And allow yourself to fantasize – to shoot higher than maybe you do normally. You can always settle for less later. For now, go for the gusto!

  • What do you have to do to get there?

Once you have some ideas in mind, identify the steps you will have to take to make success happen. When you’re afraid of failure, you like to believe that things “just happen somehow” or are due to luck, instead of accepting that you have the power to control some things in your life – even if not everything – and you can take steps to increase your chances of winning. So, what’s necessary to go for the new job? Update your resume. Call friends and associates who can provide you with information or outright help you get an interview. Identify those things that will move you closer to your goal. And don’t be afraid of this process. Just thinking about what you need to do doesn’t commit you to a decision, so give yourself “permission” to freely formulate a plan.

  • What’s the worst that will happen?

Combat crippling fear by identifying the worst possible outcomes if you take the plunge. You are already playing a litany of criticisms in your head, so just get them out in the open. Then you can deal with them. Minimize your chances of failing by actively visualizing all the things that could go wrong and by putting plans in place to deal with each of them. You avoid failure as best you can by being prepared.

  • Take some action!

You can’t win if you’re not in the game. You’ve got to make a decision to try. Success is not guaranteed and you might lose, but you are certain to get nowhere if you do nothing.

  • Failure is Not the End of the World

When you try to move forward and things don’t work out, feelings of failure will occur and are upsetting but they don’t make you a failure. You are more than any single decision you make or action you take. So, don’t let your emotions make a bad situation seem worse than it actually is. Try to identify the lesson you can learn from the failure so that you can avoid making the same mistake in the future. That will spell success the next time.

It takes work to fight the fear of failure and often the process must be ongoing. Try taking baby steps to move out of your comfort zone so that the fear does not overwhelm you – but take some steps. You’ll feel empowered and proud of yourself. Most importantly, you’ll move closer to getting what you want in life so seek success coaching if self-help is not working for you. Get in the game so you can win!



About the Author:

Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,

The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at or call 954.797.9766.

E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262  Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317

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