How To Overcome Your Fear of Failure: 5 Simple Strategies

Jennifer Herrity

Updated October 26, 2022

Published October 7, 2019

Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.

The feeling of success can be important for your sense of identity and self-worth. As a result, when success seems hard to achieve, the fear of failure can hinder progress in your career. However, overcoming the fear of failure is an important marker for your professional and personal advancement. In this article, we will examine steps you can take to give you a starting point in your journey of self-confidence and help you overcome a fear of failure.

How to overcome a fear of failure

You can approach these steps as a comprehensive process or individually, depending on what works best for you. Remember that overcoming any fear is a dynamic process, so in some cases, you may be interested in trying more than one approach so that you can find one that works for you. Here are some steps you can take to overcome the fear of failure and gain self-confidence:

  1. Set goals.

  2. Think positively.

  3. Examine worst-case outcomes.

  4. Self-evaluate.

  5. Look for outside help.

1. Set goals

Dividing your ambitions between practical goals and projection goals can help you work through your fear of failure and move forward. Practical goals are simple steps you can take before moving on to more involved tasks. For someone seeking a job, practical goals could include the following:

  • Improving your resume.

  • Selecting professional clothing to wear for interviews.

  • Practicing responses to common interview questions.

  • Applying to a set number of jobs per week.

These steps help preserve your forward momentum and improve your preparedness.

Projection goals are value-based milestones to look forward to. Avoiding specifics can help make the goals more accessible. For example, for someone seeking employment, a projection goal may be to “Find a position in which I will be able to learn new skills to use in my field” or to “Find a position with a strong mentoring component.” This type of goal allows you to emphasize positive attributes and think about different experiences as steps toward success. 

 Read more: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

2. Think positively

Striving to be positive can help improve your confidence and offset some of the anxiety associated with failure. Instead of dwelling on mistakes or poor outcomes, take time to reframe difficult encounters in your mind as learning experiences. By focusing on successes, you gain valuable insight into how you are progressing.

3. Imagine worst-case outcomes

It may seem counterintuitive to think positively and then try to think of worst-case outcomes. Pairing the two together, however, is a great way to encourage confidence. Thinking of worst-case outcomes gives you the opportunity to figure out how to handle potentially unpleasant scenarios in a constructive, positive way.

Write out your imagined worst-case outcomes in a list, being sure to remain realistic. Work through the list one scenario at a time by focusing on different ways you can overcome obstacles. This process can help minimize fears of failure and give you a better idea of how to handle challenging situations. 

4. Self-evaluate

Self-evaluation is a critical component of self-betterment, but it is also an important part of overcoming fears of failure. If you are seeking a career change, practice self-evaluation by gathering your resume and any documentation you use for job applications like certifications and educational transcripts. Then, analyze all your qualifications and skills, job history, education and other relevant details. Finally, consider your ideal job and what you can do to ensure you have the right skill set for it. Feeling secure that you have the right experience for a position can help reduce fears of failure.

Another important part of self-evaluating is to look at your past challenges to learn how you can improve. Discovering where you were less successful and taking active steps to correct those mistakes can help you feel more positive about your abilities. 

 Read more: SWOT Analysis Guide (With Examples)

5. Look for outside help

If you still find yourself hindered by fear of failing, it may help to look to an outside professional such as a career coach, life coach or counselor. These professionals can offer stress and anxiety reduction techniques to help you progress.

If your anxiety is specific to a job search, consider talking to a local job center. Many universities offer career assistance to community members and can help you craft a strong resume and practice interview skills

Fear of failure is natural, but you can overcome temporary setbacks and work toward reaching your goals. The above steps are a guide for overcoming your fear of failure and moving forward in a successful career.

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