How To Overcome Fear Of Failure And Take On The World

How To Overcome Fear Of Failure And Take On The World

Overcoming fear of failure. Photo of woman jumping triumphantly in the air near the edge of a cliff.

Have you thought of making a change or taking on a new challenge, but shy away? Is fear of failure holding you back? Whether you want to switch careers, try a new hobby, or set new goals, the unknown can feel scary. Yet lots of people overcome their fears, and so can you. We’ll tell you how.

Fear can be paralyzing. The fear of failure can stop our journeys before we even begin. If this sounds all-too-familiar, you’re not alone.

After all, we’re human. We fear all kinds of things despite all the scoffing from our more rational selves. These fears include heights, thunder, crowded rooms, getting on and off escalators… The list of phobias goes on and on. In fact, the fear of failing has a name: The experts call it Atychiphobia, and, while it may sound silly, it is, in fact, a very debilitating fear.

As Health Line explains, it can be serious. The symptoms can include panic attacks, trouble breathing, sweating, and a higher heart rate. Sometimes people even wind up sabotaging their own efforts without knowing it. Procrastinating on a key project is just one of many ways we do this to ourselves.

Unlike clowns or even rain, we really can’t avoid instances where we may fail. Failure or at least the chance of it occurs every single day. We can fail at work or school, on an exam, relationships, friendships, even cooking a meal.

Watch: Caleb Meakins’ Ted Talk on Facing His Fear of Failure

Here is a video explaining how facing our fear of failure helps us to develop the courage to pursue our dreams.

Conquering the fear of failure might seem impossible, but it is, in fact, quite doable. We will give you some information on Atychiphobia and tips on how you can overcome the fear of failure and give yourself the ability to take on anything.


The symptoms of this debilitating fear are numerous. When it gets to a wrong spot, the person suffering from the fear can give up on things. They can also stop making attempts. The fear extends out to looking for perfection, not realizing ideal is unattainable.

When it comes to relationships, work or school the person suffering the fear may quit completely. They may leave their job, drop out of school, or cut off all contact where relationships are concerned.

Finding ways out of situations where failure is possible will lead to lying, disappearing, pretending to be sick or even getting angry, argumentative and causing a scene.

There are also physical symptoms of severe afflictions. Headaches, insomnia, aches, and pains or anxiety. Further, when taking on a task, the fear of failure can creep in and cause sweating, muscular trembling, irritable attitudes, upset stomach or panic attacks.


In very severe cases, there are treatments available. Most treatment cases will start with a doctor, who will usually recommend that the afflicted person meets with a psychiatrist or therapist. The hopes of talking to a professional about the fear and symptoms may help.

There are medicines that can be prescribed. However, this is frowned upon as the cause of the fear is still present, and the physical symptoms are masked and not removed.

The best form of treatment is self-motivation or convincing yourself that you can get through it. You have to believe in yourself. With self-motivation, the idea is to make yourself attempt the task that could lead to failure. Acceptance and going through the task is easy to say and much harder to do.

How can you get in the habit of fighting the fear yourself?

Four Ways to Overcome the Fear of Failure

Overcoming fear is never a simple feat. It isn’t something you can just “snap out of” or “get over” in a single day. It takes practice, dedication and not surprisingly, there will be times when you fail. No pun intended.

The first step is an acceptance that a failure is an option. However, instead of focusing on the possibility that a failure is an option, you need to also focus on the knowledge that there are other possible outcomes as well.

You need to see all the outcomes of the situation, including the failures. Knowing what possible outcomes there are, no matter how outlandish, will allow you to prepare, both physically and mentally for whatever outcome becomes a reality.

You might also want to read some good self-help books. Here, you can learn all kinds of methods for positive thinking that can help you overcome your fears.

1. Think Positive

One of the hardest things to do is to change the way we think. When the fear of failure sets in it is easy to get in the habit of thinking negative thoughts. You need to begin to think about the positive outcomes.

Think about the good things that will happen when accomplishing the task. Begin small, work yourself up to the most positive possible outcomes. Doing this will allow you to slowly begin to break the habit of constant negative thinking to include positive thinking.

By thinking positive, you allow your mind to build confidence and begin to overcome the fear of failure. You also gain the benefit of learning that there is never a perfect outcome to any situation. There are good and bad outcomes, and we still have to complete the task, regardless of what happens in the end.

When you can accept that imperfection is still a good thing, you free yourself up to take on more and more tasks and enter into situations you used to avoid.

Read: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: A Book Everyone Should Read.

2. Devise a Plan B And C…

When you think about all the possible outcomes of a given situation, you can prepare for each of them. You can think positively even about the wrong, or less than ideal outcomes. When you do this, you can then begin to come up with contingency plans.

For example, if you have a situation that has multiple outcome possibilities, you can make a plan to accomplish the task and prepare for what happens. If the outcome is less than desirable, you will be prepared.

You can then invoke your plan B. By having a backup plan; you ignore that you failed and moved on to a continuation of the original task. Combined with positive thinking, you will find that while the first outcome may not be what you are after, you can continue trying the next step to getting the outcome you desire.

If the plan B doesn’t work out, you then move on to plan C. There are many motivational aspects of doing this. Never giving up, and allowing yourself to continue even if the initial outcome is a failure.

Thomas Edison and the Light Bulb

We hear stories all the time from history Procrastinating that occurred and weren’t given up on. Thomas Edison and the light bulb, for instance, is a common one. Looking for the right material for the bulb filament, Edison went through over 1000 different items.

Eventually, the correct filament presented itself, and the light bulb was born. While you may not be taking on a monumental task such as creating the next big thing, you can take into consideration the fact that everyone fails from time to time and it isn’t anything to be scared of.

Read: 4 Expert Opinions on Learning from Failure.

3. Set Goals

One of the best things you can do is to make goals for the task that has you fearful. The key here is to make small, obtainable goals. Cutting the entire task into small chunks that are more easily completed.

Allowing yourself to slow down the overall task and take on bite-sized chunks, you don’t worry about the outcome of the entire task. Being scared of this outcome may prevent you from even starting the project or task.

When you chop up the entire task and only concentrate on the small task ahead of you, it is much easier to start and complete. When you complete the small task, you simply move on to the next small portion.

Read: Gaining confidence in completing small tasks.

Eventually, the small tasks get completed, and the entire task is done. One of the positive aspects is that once you accomplish the first small task, you gain confidence. With each subsequent task accomplished, you gain more and more confidence and positive thinking.

Setting goals give you something to focus on instead of the fear. Taking the goals and making them smaller and more spread out will make them more easily accomplished. Nothing is more important than overcoming the fear of failure, and by allowing yourself to take your time and complete small, obtainable goals, you will eventually find that there is nothing to be afraid of.

4. If  You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

As the old saying goes, “if you don’t succeed, try, try again.” There is no harm in failing. While no one wants to fail, everyone does. The difference between those that failed and continue and those that suffer from Atychiphobia, that that the fearful usually don’t even start the task because they are scared of the outcome, or more importantly, that the outcome will be a failure.

Understanding that you can fail and continue until you succeed is something that you don’t often think about.

Deciding the worst possible outcome will result in the task being completed to find that the worst-case scenario didn’t even come close to happening.

Don’t be afraid to try again. A second attempt will have a more favorable outcome because you have practice in attempting the task at hand. You can try again as many times as you like, in most instances.

Read: Learning from Business Failure and How to Do Better Next Time.

Watch: Late Apple Founder Steve Jobs Explains Why Failure Was the “Best Thing That Ever Happened” to Him

In Conclusion

The fear of failure can be a very debilitating disorder. So much, in fact, that severe cases can result in the person not even making an initial attempt.

To overcome the fear of failure, you have to change the way you think. Knowing that it won’t happen overnight, you can slowly allow yourself to think more and more positive thoughts. Changing your mindset is the first step to overcoming your fear.

Allowing yourself to cut the tasks up into smaller goals will make the overall task more easily completed positively. Take everything one day at a time and know that failures are just experiences, and you can try again.

Featured image: CC0 Public Domain via PxHere.

Author: Jon Stahl