It would be amazing if we could get everything perfect the first time around. Or even the second time around. Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple.
We’ve all had some colossal failures — or “epic fails” — in our time.
Failing feels awful, even if it’s over something as trivial as coming last in a boardgame.
In fact, it’s so horrible that lots of people live their lives trying to avoid failure at any cost. Instead, they’ll go for the low-hanging fruit: the unimpressive but stable job, the easy but unhappy life.
Isn’t this a tragedy? If you’re guilty of any of the above, it’s time to stop your fear of failure in its tracks and start chasing your dreams!
Here are nine top tips to help you do it.
- 1. Don’t try to fight your feelings
- 2. Don’t let your setback define you
- 3. Use your failure as a chance to grow
- 4. Remember most successful people fail
- 5. Don’t hold everything in
- 6. Seek out inspiration and motivation
- 7. Move on quickly
- 8. Take action
- 9. Build your confidence
- Bottom line: Time to grow from your failures!
1. Don’t try to fight your feelings
If you’re sick of being afraid of failure, you might feel tempted to try and convince yourself out of it.
Maybe if you tell yourself enough time that failure doesn’t bother you, the feeling will go away, right?
Sorry to break it to you, but probably not.
It’s normal to feel sad, embarrassed, or angry when things go wrong— especially if you fail at something genuinely important to you, like not getting your dream job.
The trick is not to let it stop you from going after what you really want.
So, the next time it happens, don’t push the feeling away.
Instead, acknowledge how you feel and take the opportunity to do some self-reflection.
Why do you feel this way? What went wrong? Is there anything you can do to stop this happening again in the future?
Besides, if you think about something enough, it will eventually stop being so painful — standing you in better stead when the same thing happens again!
Soon enough, you’ll be invincible.
2. Don’t let your setback define you
Since the most dangerous part of failing is letting it stop you from taking risks, few things are more important than developing a healthy attitude toward failure.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing one single failure reflects on your abilities — or, even worse, defines who you are as a person.
This is a dangerous belief; it can make you think that you’ll fail again if you attempt the same thing twice.
It can also lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What can you do about it?
Remember that your failure is a tiny event in your life that you’ll barely even remember a few years down the line. The sooner you get back out there and try things again, the sooner you’ll move on.
Failing doesn’t make you a failure. It just means that you’re human and make mistakes like everyone else.
3. Use your failure as a chance to grow
What’s even better than not letting a setback define who you are?
Using it as a chance to grow and become a better person.
This is all about the difference between fixed and growth mindsets.
People with a fixed mindset believe that everyone is born with a level of innate ability; if we fail, that means we lack innate ability. If we succeed, it proves we have innate ability — whether intelligence, sporting skills, or anything else.
But those with a growth mindset realize we can learn from failure and improve ourselves. Failing a job interview is the perfect opportunity to get some constructive feedback and use it to do better the next time — it doesn’t mean that you’ll never get that job you want because you’re just not good enough.
How can you change your mindset?
Get in the habit of asking yourself some questions.
What can you learn from the experience? Where did you go wrong? How will you change your approach next time?
You might initially find it painful to answer these questions, but it will get easier with time.
4. Remember most successful people fail
We’ve all heard the stories about high school dropouts who go on to become millionaires and celebrities — so why do we assume one failure means we’ll never be successful when it comes to or own lives?
Even Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination by a newspaper editor at one of his first jobs.
Meanwhile, J.K. Rowling didn’t publish the first Harry Potter book until she was 32 years old, when she was a depressed single mother with almost no money.
These are just two examples of thousands — it’s almost a guarantee that if you read a successful person’s biography, you’ll find at least half a dozen failures that made them who they are today.
Imagine what would have happened if they’d given up.
5. Don’t hold everything in
In Britain during the war, the government told everyone to “keep calm and carry on.” This might be a useful tactic to employ during wartime, but you don’t need to be an emotionless robot in everyday life.
It’s okay to get upset.
Letting all those emotions out is actually a great way to come to terms with what’s happened and move on.
Everyone has a different way of embracing how they feel. For some people, it’s as simple as a conversation with a loved one. Others might have a creative release, like writing a song or journaling in their diary.
You’ll often find that this gives you some perspective and makes you realize your failure truly isn’t the end of the world.
6. Seek out inspiration and motivation
Once you’ve gotten over the worst of your failure, it’s time to inject some positivity into your life!
The internet is littered with people trying to achieve the same things as you, or who’ve already achieved them, that create inspiring content.
This can really help to turn that frown upside down!
How To Fail with Elizabeth Day is the perfect example — it’s a podcast dedicated to examining successful people’s failures and dissecting how they learned from their experiences.
7. Move on quickly
As outlined already, there’s no shame in feeling sad for a while and wallowing in your emotions.
But don’t wallow in them for too long.
Eventually, a time comes where you need to move on. You should reach this point naturally, but it can also help to put a time limit on your “recovery time” — one or two weeks should be enough.
If you’ve already spent some time thinking about what you can learn your setback and change for your future approach, this is the perfect time to draw up a plan.
8. Take action
You know what happens when you’ve made a plan?
Yep, you guessed it — execution.
Anyone who really struggles with a fixed mindset will find this difficult. A classic excuse people make is spending too much time trying to make the perfect plan.
This is just your mind playing tricks on you.
The sooner you start trying things out and learning, the better. Even if that involves a little more failing!
It’s okay to start with baby steps. Even if you only take a few minutes of action every day, it’s enough to build momentum if you’re consistent.
9. Build your confidence
Obviously, building your confidence is no easy task.
But it can be done!
This is probably not what you want to hear, but one of the easiest ways to improve your self-esteem is to face your fears head-on.
Yes, that potentially means more failures.
The more you get used to doing the things that terrify you, the quicker you’ll recover.
Of course, all the other tips on this list also help.
Bottom line: Time to grow from your failures!
Overcoming failure effectively takes a mixture of theory and practice.
First, you need to understand why failure scares you so much — and why this is a limiting belief holding you back. Then, you have to take action by facing your fears.
Go easy on yourself; nobody can rewire their brain overnight.
But trust that, within time, you’ll be a badass who is completely unfazed by failure.