“Sometimes, I feel the fear of
Uncertainty stinging clear
And I can’t help but ask myself[…]
How much I let the fear take the wheel and steer
It’s driven me before
And it seems to be the way that everyone else gets around
But lately I’m beginning to find that
When I drive myself my light is found.”
– Drive, by Incubus
When you are faced with tough decisions, how do you decide which path to take?
Do you move towards your goals and dreams (things you want) – or do you shy away from the chance of failure (fear).
I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams and fear these past few days, based on some of the results in the personal development reader survey.
One of the biggest things I learned was that fear of failure is a widespread concern that holds many people back.
The main question I got was: How can you overcome fear of failure – and make sure that fear doesn’t drive you away from your dreams?
Here are are a few strategies that have always helped me overcome my fear of failure and uncertainty – at least a little =)
Define Your Worst Case Scenario
“Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.”
– Tim Ferriss
If you don’t know what your worst case is, then of course you’ll fear it – we all fear the unknown.
So try this:
Sit down, write down exactly what would happen – and how you would recover.
Once you know what the worst case is, you can plan for how you would come back from it. And once you have an idea of the worst case, and how you’d come back – perhaps failure won’t look as scary as not knowing.
Give Yourself a Cushion
Some people work better with their backs against the wall – but for others, being in a situation where failure is not an option may not motivate them – and worse, the additional stress may cause them to underperform.
I know for myself, I like to have a cushion, and a set time frame to try things out – knowing that even if I fail, I’ve given myself a little bit of a financial savings (for example) to fall back on.
That might mean setting aside some money, or it might mean speaking with your friends and family and securing their emotional support before you act.
Consider The Cost of Not Acting
Sometimes we’re afraid to act because we don’t want to lose what we already have – but what will you lose out on by not taking action?
Will the opportunity be there again – or is it only here for today?
Are you happy with the way things are – and if you don’t act, are you content with continuing with things the way they are, or are you just tolerating them? I’m not implying anything – you’ve got to decide for yourself.
Sometimes facing up to the reality of the situation makes trying and failing less intimidating, knowing that not trying is not a perfect solution either.
Talk It Out
Sometimes when we’re afraid, we compound that fear by feeling lonely in our decision.
Oftentimes, just talking it out with someone you trust, and knowing that you have their support will help give you the courage and strength you need to overcome your fear and take action.
Build On Small Successes
Long term, the biggest way to overcome your fear of failure is just by facing smaller fears, and building up an internal well of courage and assuredness within your self.
That doesn’t mean the fear of failure will go away – but remembering the small victories you’ve already accomplished can help you push yourself to make the tough decisions to push forward on your dreams.
Take Action Today
You don’t have to go it alone. If you like what you’ve seen so far, and want to make the most out of your life, take a moment to read the details about my course The Action Solution and see if it’s something you’d be interested in. It is the result of decades of experience, and hundreds of hours of making dreams a reality for real people – just like you.
The last strategy I mention above, building on small successes, reminds me of one of my favorite stories, one that I had posted up on my mirror for a long time – and a lesson that I remind myself of often:
The Two Wolves
A Cherokee elder was teaching his grandchildren about life.
He said to them,
“A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight between two wolves.
One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, hatefulness, and lies.
The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, humbleness, kindness, friendship, generosity, faith, and truth.
This same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person, too.”
The children thought about it for a minute. Then one child asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”
The Cherokee elder replied…
“The one you feed.”