Thinking About the Fear of Failure

Sorry, I’m running a bit late today

Photo by Liza Summer on

It’s been a busy morning. I’ve prepped four signed copies of The Kringle Conspiracy for the mail today — I have friends that want my signature. It took extra coffee to get me on task today, because I had nightmares about getting the wrong signed book in the right envelope. I swore, with that, I would complete the task first thing before I psyched myself out. Task completed; now to mail them.

Which brings me to my topic

How is it we let fear of failure get in the way of our dreams? It’s common enough that Harvard Business Review has an article on how to overcome fear of failure. So do others, but I like HBR’s version because it fits with my world view. (wise words or confirmation bias? You decide.)

Here’s their list with my musings:

  • Refine failure. This fits in with the SMART model of goal-setting. I covered the other day — goals should be attainable. I set a goal of “getting traditionally published”, and given the market, that might have been aiming too high for a first-time author. I still have that goal, but I set other goals like “self-publish one book”, and I feel satisfied with self-publishing The Kringle Conspiracy and its sequel coming out in November, Kringle in the Night.
  • Set approach rather than avoidance goals. This is the difference between “avoiding rejection” and “get published”. Or, for another dichotomy, “losing weight” vs “making healthy habits. If I accentuate failure, I start the journey to success cranky and hopeless.
  • Make a “fear list“. This is one I hadn’t heard of, and I’m going to start doing it. The technique is: 1) write what you’re afraid of, 2) write what you’ll do to keep it from happening; 3) write down what you’ll do if it happens. I’m thinking about how I might use this in my life.
  • Focus on learning. This one I love the most — because I believe my purpose in life is to always be learning. Those messy first drafts became polished novels with the help of experience. I managed to stumble through self-publishing. I’ve gotten tons of rejections, but it’s okay because I’ve learned. Success or failure, we will hopefully always learn.

The question

Drop me a line — how do you deal with favor? And which of these pieces of advice do you think will work in your life?

One thought on “Thinking About the Fear of Failure

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