Are You Afraid of Failure?

Yesterday, we talked about the fear of success, which in many cases comes from apprehension of what your friends and family will think about you and your “odd job.”

This also comes into play when you’re afraid of failure.

Many of us are afraid to get started because we’re worried what will happen if we fail. Will our loved ones think we’re a failure?

When I first started freelancing, my friends and family didn’t get it at all. Some still don’t.

But I wanted this dream for myself, so I pushed on. I took it slow – working nights and weekends while I held onto my full-time job – but I was still afraid.

Eventually, I decided I would rather hurry up and fail than be afraid for one more day. Here are two tips for getting over the fear of failure:

1. “Fail” fast.

There will be setbacks in your path to the writer’s life. View these little “failures” as learning experiences that will accelerate your progress.

In that case, it’s better to get started as soon as possible. You’ll be successful sooner, and you won’t spend as much time worrying or being afraid.

2. Start a compliment document.

In the beginning, I was afraid a lot. If I didn’t hear back from a client after turning in my work, I would worry that it wasn’t any good. It didn’t matter that I’d done well in the past. I was suddenly convinced I had just submitted the worst copy in history.

To get over this, I started saving every compliment I received. If a client said they liked my copy, it went in a document on my computer. Even if they just said that I had a good idea or submitted something on time … into the compliment document it went.

Later, when I was feeling down on myself, I could look at that document and say, “Okay, I’ve received compliments in the past. I’m sure this copy was fine, too. I did my best. Press on!”

My compliment document helped me move past a lot of fear and worry. I recommend starting one today if you haven’t already.

And be sure to join me tomorrow as I help you overcome a fear that even experienced professional writers still suffer from.

What tips do you have for getting over the fear of failure? Join the discussion here.

And for more tips on overcoming fear, check out this article: “7 Ways to Overcome Fear.”

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Published: January 9, 2013

9 Responses to “Are You Afraid of Failure?”

  1. In my role of Professor, I offer my students a Success Journal.  For those that constantly repeat the phrase "I can't do this" or "I can't do that", this journal takes their thoughts away from what they can't do or be or accomplish and focus their attention on what they "can" achieve.  For example: "I can't get great grades" or "I can't write well" or other failure-focused statements. I encourage these adult learners to print out 30 days worth of the daily journal.  Before my students retire for the evening I suggest that they write down as many successes they have achieved during the day.  Then, as they slumber, their minds-eye focuses on the small and large successes they accomplished that day...and when they awake the next morning refreshed and ready to conquer another day, the first thoughts of yesterday that pop into their mind are the things they did,...not the things that didn't happen.  I remind the

    Brad Henson

  2. When this fear happens to me, what I do is think about others who have done it before me, and reason that if they were able to break through, I can too. That usually gives me the "boost" needed to get started on the task/challenge.

    Al Colon

  3. Get failure out of your mind. When I started I didn't know I could fail. Here's what I had.
    1- I was gifted with a brain
    2- I was gifted with knowledge
    3- I was gifted with a possitive attitude
    4 I was gifted with tenacity.
    Thats all you need. And, if you do fail get up, dust your pants off, and start over again. Believe in yourself. If a client turns you down...just go to the next client. Don't be a quiter. Every morning tell yourself...I'm a professional.

    Guest (Charlie Meyer)

  4. I like to keep things simple so what have done is put sticky notes on my computers and my bulletin board with the phrase "Action cures fear. Do something." I wish I could give credit to the author but I have no idea where I read it. Then I look at the situation, decide what the next step is, and take it.


  5. Great stuff Christina!

    For me, I don't look at failure as a negative. It is simply an experience. It is how I choose to respond to that experience that will determine the ultimate outcome.

    Some of the most successful people failed. Many did so several times before they finally had their "aha moment." But they learned from each experience.

    There is a great chapter on fear in Napoleon Hill's Think & Grow Rich...How to Outwit the 6 Ghosts of Fear if anyone is interested in checking it out.


  6. I always believed anyone can do anything they wish so long as they want it badly enough. Of course, either that is not quite true or I have not wanted strongly enough or life might have been somewhat different.

    But having said that, what is the worst that can happen if we fail? A client does not like our copy? We can redo it and learn in the process. There is a valuable lesson in every failure and that lesson can turn failures into gains. The important thing is that we do not fail as people.


  7. I'm fond of Winston Churchill's definition of failure -- "Success is moving from one failure to another with great enthusiasm." In other words, be relentless in your writing, disregarding all rejections and negative comments.
    Nevah, nevah surrender.


  8. Nothing like stacking a few successes on top of each other to get over that fear of failure =:)

    Jerry Bures

  9. Hi everyone, Great comments and suggestions!! The positive statements here are very motivational!

    Christina Gillick

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