How to overcome your fear of failure and achieve your goals


I’ve been thinking about failure a lot lately. It seems strange and perhaps unconventional to approach these rose-tinted glasses the beginning of the year With such a look. But this is not pessimism, nor is it my intention to wallow in the shortcomings of others. Instead, it was during this journey of overcoming my fear of failure that I realized this adage was true. Every failure is an opportunity to learn. they changeand grow.

This philosophy about failure proves it even more: Our defeats and defeats are not the end of our story. They are a point on our roadmap to success. And in fact, when we look at failures without criticism and instead analyze the information they provide, we are able to move forward with greater wisdom and strength.

Featured image of Simon Boyce by Michelle Nash.

Michelle Nash’s photo

How to overcome your fear of failure and achieve your goals

Culturally, we have assumed failure as the worst possible experience. We are supposed to feel shame when a company fails, a relationship fails, or even a workout plan fails. But is there a way to redefine failure — to get rid of our fear of failure — so that we can freely explore the opportunities around us? Keep reading for my tried-and-true tips for embracing failure, honoring your efforts, and taking on new challenges with satisfaction.

Our slips and defeats are not the end of our story.

Nothing in life is a zero-sum game

I picked this beautiful insight from Holly Whitaker recovery memoirs/social criticism, Quit like a woman. In a section on “Relapse Failure,” we shared several facts about failure that we often forget. Namely, that failure never brings us back to the starting line. You may have heard that growth (or recovery, success, get your wish here) is not linear, and that is exactly the case. Throughout our journey, we deal with challenges that send us in new directions, ideas that accelerate our progress, and setbacks that may slow our growth. But we are still on the road and still driven by hope. Now, armed with our failures, we have a greater understanding of how to achieve the success we seek.

Whitaker wrote:[…] I failed many times. Those failures were not some setbacks. They were rungs on a ladder – precious, painful, defeating experiences that I had to endure in order to learn the things I needed to succeed.” Failure is knowledge and a beautiful, inseparable part of your story.

Michelle Nash’s photo

Practice fails

In many ways, failure indicates that you are not afraid because you have been brave enough to innovate, pursue passion, and grow in ways that those who never acted on their fear of failure are not aware of. As a woman in her late twenties, when I reflect on my journey thus far, I can see with such clarity the many ways I have failed over the years—and the many ways those failures have rewarded me in the long run.

I did not get into the university of my dreams. But did you know? I wouldn’t change my college experience for the world. I didn’t get any of the 68 jobs I wrote individual cover letters for last year (yes, really). But going through rejection after rejection helped me be intentional about the career path I wanted to take. And when I didn’t get into graduate school to become a therapist, I knew: Being a writer was the dream I’d wanted, always wanted, all along.

Everyone fails, and the more we embrace its inevitability—and push forward without fear—the more deeply we can connect with an honest, passion-driven life.

Michelle Nash’s photo

You have to respect your growth before anyone else

While failures are an essential part of the growth process, not often others will see it that way. Here’s the hard truth: until you achieve significant success, you won’t receive external validation for your efforts. The only way to combat that? Stop looking for it. I’ll say it again: you have to respect your own growth before anyone else does. in Atomic habitsJames Clear is quick to stress this fact, contextualizing it through our habits and what he calls “The Valley of Frustration.” he is writing:

“[…] People get frustrated after putting in weeks or months of hard work without seeing any results. However, this work was not lost. It was simply stored. The full value of the earlier efforts was not revealed until much later.”

Like Whitaker’s belief that failure teaches us what we need to succeed, those moments that pass without praise or acknowledgment from others remain an important part of our journey. And perhaps more than those rewarding moments, they teach us what we’re working for—and why we really want it.

photo by Bellathe Photography

Remember: failure is always worth it

From this moment on, whenever you fail (because you will fail), remember that whatever we strive for, no matter how hard we try or try, is practice and endeavor. It is a goal worth striving for.

To illustrate, I’m going to share what might be my favorite line Quit like a woman. Reflecting on the experience of quitting smoking, Whitaker writes, “It is hard, not in the way that makes it impossible, but in the way that makes it worth doing.” When we try, fail, and may eventually succeed, we prove our resilience to ourselves. Over and over again, we remind ourselves that we can overcome the obstacles we face and overcome barriers along the way.

In getting rid of my fear of failure, I learned to think about expertise From failure – what it feels like and the emotions that go with it – were some of my greatest teachers along the way. So when you fall short of a goal, miss an opportunity, or experience a perceived setback, ask yourself the following:

  • What does this experience tell me?
  • What is the next step I can take that acknowledges where I am coming from and puts me in the direction I want to go?

One last note about failure

If you are in a place where you feel paralyzed or unable to move forward because of your fear of failure, you are not alone. Society, social media and the world around us make us believe that we must be perfect before we can pursue any goal. But you have my permission to be your beautifully imperfect, messy self as you navigate the ups and downs of your journey. Remember: it won’t look like everyone else, and really, that’s exactly the point.





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