Fear can be debilitating, leading to paralysis and preventing people from taking the necessary risks to pursue career opportunities. This inaction becomes a barrier to growth and advancement in your job. If you allow fear to take over, it’s likely that you’ll make poor decisions, due to the anxiety, which can cause ripple effects in your career.

Being afraid will make you doubt your own decisions, which erodes your self-confidence. Your insecurities will be felt by others around you, and you’ll be viewed as someone who is not capable of doing your job and won’t be considered for promotions. It would be likely that you’ll be a target if and when layoffs are enacted. When you are scared to share ideas, take on new assignments and meet with senior executives or clients, you will seek safety in staying where you are and not rock the boat. Your avoidance of taking chances and risks will inhibit the ability to attain career progression.

Overcoming fear, building resilience and developing a mindset of courage allows individuals to fully commit, embrace risks and unleash their full potential. By managing your fear productively, you have a greater chance at long-term career growth and satisfaction.

Fear-setting” is a concept coined by entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss. The mindset focuses on thinking about the worst-case scenario that can happen if you take action toward your goals. Ferriss suggests you should define your fears and consider what is getting in the way of attaining your goals and dreams of career success, from asking for a promotion or starting a company. This process helps you to confront your fears head-on and develop a plan to overcome them, rather than letting them hold you back.

The key to fighting back against fears of failure is to acknowledge and understand what you are afraid of. Identify the specific hang-ups that are preventing you from going after your dreams, whether it’s fear of failure, judgment or the unknown. Start by creating a plan to mitigate your worst fears, then embark on the journey of obtaining your desired goals. Despite the odds, challenges, obstacles and setbacks, you must keep trudging forward.

Changing Your Mindset

Instead of dwelling on everything that can possibly go wrong and ruminating over past failures, it’s time to change how you look at things. You can start by reframing setbacks and so-called failures as learning opportunities. Think of prior defeats as proof that you can go through the fire, survive and thrive.

You’ll need to be patient. Since large leaps can seem daunting, it may be less stressful to take incremental, baby steps, if that is what is needed to make you feel more comfortable to push forward. Celebrate each and every little victory, which will help get you into the right growth mindset and demonstrate that you can, in fact, succeed.

Accept the fact that fear and uncertainty are natural parts of growth and career advancement. View the unknown as an opportunity to make something happen rather than a threat. Trust that your abilities, skills and talents can help you succeed.

There’s no need to be a lone ranger. Surround yourself with a network of mentors, coaches, truth tellers, sponsors, colleagues and friends who can provide guidance, encouragement and accountability. Don’t be shy about seeking out advice and guidance from people at work who have dealt with similar situations.

If you desire to obtain  a promotion or move laterally within your company, find out what requirements are needed to make the jump. Proactively focus on building and cultivating these requisite skills and qualifications, so you can approach the opportunity feeling prepared and confident.

Submit to the realization that your thoughts about fear of failure and embarrassment hold you back more than the actual failure itself. To put things into context, identify potential worst-case scenarios and assess how likely they really are. The results of your self-audit will show that things are not as bad as you thought they were.

Common Fears That Hold People Back

These common trepidations often hold people back from pursuing their goals and aspirations:

  • The fear of not being successful or making mistakes can prevent people from taking risks and pursuing their goals.
  • Some are scared about letting down those around them, especially those who supported them on their journey.
  • Others sometimes place too much emphasis on what people think about them. They worry that they will be judged for their failures.
  • Interestingly, some people have a fear of success. They strongly desire the promotion or new job, but are terrified of the change, doing the work and rising to the occasion.
  • It’s understandable to fear the unknown and overthink everything that can possibly go wrong. The economy is turbulent, layoffs are rampant and there are valid concerns over a possible recession. These factors could make you feel stuck in inertia.  There will always be a feeling of discomfort as you are morphing into a new version of yourself.

While it’s natural to worry about pursuing a new job or asking for a big raise and promotion, if you don’t try, nothing will change and you’ll remain where you are. Even if you do fail, at least you can look in the mirror and be proud that you took the bold chances.

No one wants to get rejected in an interview or be on the receiving end of negative feedback, but you’ll need a strong stomach for the letdowns and the will and determination to pick yourself up and start again.

Prominent People Who Have Failed And Later Succeeded

These well-known figures are living proof that overcoming the fear of failure and persisting through setbacks can lead to success:

  • Sir James Dyson went through 5,126 failed prototypes over 15 years before finally developing his revolutionary bagless vacuum cleaner. He didn’t let the fear of failure stop him from pursuing his vision.
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected by both the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, but he didn’t let that deter him. He went on to become one of the most successful directors of all time.
  • Walt Disney was told by a former newspaper editor that he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas,” but he persevered and created the iconic Disney brand.
  • Albert Einstein, as a young child, was thought to have an intellectual disability. He went on to revolutionize physics and win a Nobel Prize.
  • J.K. Rowling was a broke, depressed, single mother when she faced numerous rejections for her first Harry Potter book. In 2004, Forbes named Rowling “the first billion-dollar author.”
  • Abraham Lincoln  experienced many failures, including leaving a war as a captain and returning as a private, but he persisted and eventually became the 16th President of the United States.
  • Milton Hershey failed at his first two candy business ventures before finally perfecting the art of making milk chocolate and launching the Hershey’s brand.

Your Mental Health

The fear of failure can be a big contributor to mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. You owe it to yourself, your family and colleagues to address these roadblocks, as overwhelming fear can harm your emotional wellbeing and thwart career goals. Left unattended, you can spiral into a funk of  helplessness, self-loathing and depression.

People with a fear of failure may procrastinate or avoid tasks and challenges. As it erodes your self-esteem, when you interview for a new job, the hiring manager will sense your anxiety and lack of confidence. They’ll take a pass on your candidacy and move onto another job seeker who displays the right intrepidity and can-do attitude.

Source: Forbes

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