"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Looking back, I can point out so many times where the fear of failure has caused me to fall short of all the things that I could have achieved. In fact, it kills to me think of where I could be today if only I had worked through the excuses I would make for myself or I had vanquished all of the self doubt procured by constantly second guessing my decisions.
But dwelling on what I could have done or should have done doesn't help me at this point -- right now I'm focused on moving forward, and recognizing my fear of failure is a start. They say that the best way to overcome trepidation is by examining its source. I've been able to recognize four patterns in which fear has greatly limited my potential:
1. You create your goal and wait for things to happen.
You create a large goal that seems impossible to reach. Because it seems impossible, you don't act on it. Instead, you wait for some sort of cosmic shift to occur -- a cosmic shift that that will likely never happen.
You are afraid that if you try and you fail, you will not only let yourself down, you will prove that the goal itself really is impossible.
The reality is that things will very rarely fall into your lap. Achieving your goals requires careful planning and hard work. I've found that the easiest way to reach a seemingly impossible goal is to create a list of smaller, more approachable goals.
"Nothing is impossible. The word itself says 'I'm possible.'"
2. You focus on the judgement of others.
The moment you go from "This is going to change my life for the better" to "But what will my family/peers/etc. think?" you have already inhibited your chances of moving forward.
Everyone wants the approval of their peers, but you can't let the fear of disapproval prevent you from reaching your goals. Even if you don't necessarily agree with their judgement, take it with a grain of salt and move forward.
3. You procrastinate.
Starting a new venture is always the most difficult part, as fear lives within the act of starting. Why?
Starting means one of two things: you will achieve the thing you set out to do, or you will fail. Failure is scary, so you decide to start later -- once you're more comfortable, once the timing is just right, once you have your ducks lined in a row -- any subtle lie that will justify why you cannot start today, right at this very moment.
Recognize procrastination for what it is: your fear that if you start, you will ultimately fail. The solution is to move anyway, even if it's just a small movement that will lead you in the right direction.
4. Life is all about trial and error.
You aren't going to live a perfect life, as perfection does not exist. But you can come close to perfection by achieving everything you could have possibly achieved, and certainly more than you have so far. However, in order to achieve you have to fail. You have to overcome your fear of failure by realizing that failure is okay. Hopefully, you will learn from your failure and try again, only this time bearing the wisdom gained from your previous experience.
"There is only one thing that makes our dreams impossible to achieve, and that is the fear of failure."
Recognize failure for what it is: a natural part of life. There is no reason to fear it, and there is certainly no reason to let it hinder you from living a fulfilled life. Once you are able to recognize that fear is largely, if not totally, of your own making, you are able to push the envelope of your potential and achieve way more than you ever thought possible.
So look fear in the eyes, call it out, and keep moving forward.