How to overcome your fear of failure in the workplace

The workplace is not always the easiest place to feel comfortable. Especially as we are faced with having to produce and live up to the expectations of our colleagues and employer.

Many roles involve KPIs, or familiar goal oriented perform and reward systems which can add an extra element of pressure for some.

Getting our jobs done can be hard enough sometimes without the added fear of failure, so, we have put together some advice on how to overcome your fears and embrace work life to its fullest.

Re-define failure

Very often we view failure as constraining or final. Additionally, there is shame and embarrassment attached to the idea of failure.

But that’s an old construct of what failure is.

A better way to look at failure is to see it as an opportunity for growth and when it happens, we can take the opportunity to learn from it, and view it as our first step toward success.

By seeing it this way we are more inclined to feel less threatened by the possibility of failing.

Look for what failure can teach you (or has taught you)

Very rarely are projects executed perfectly on the first attempt.

The most successful people on Earth got to where they are through many trials and tribulations, which means that there were multiple failures to even the greatest ideas in existence.

Every time we make a mistake or ‘fail’, we are really just opening a space to ask, ‘what went wrong, and what can we change for the next time?’

Think about past hiccups and how they impacted you and what you learned.

Re-frame potential for failure as a challenge instead

Another way to change the way you look at failure is to view it as a challenge to tackle instead of an opportunity to fail. This can help bring out a competitive and motivated nature. It also highlights that the task ahead is difficult and may not be overcome, which helps you look at the situation realistically and means that you will not be carrying so much pressure to have everything work perfectly.

Additionally, when you plan for a challenge, you can think more critically and might spur on some innovation that will keep you too busy to feel fear!

Set realistic expectations

Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you expect yourself to never fail you will always disappoint, and you will always feel the pressure that others may expect that of you too.

Even if others do expect you never to fail, remember that you are living your life, and any errors you make along the way are just stepping stones to what is next.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Taking on too many tasks and becoming overburdened with your workload can set you up for unnecessary failure. Most of the time, we can achieve our goals much easier if we just ask for help.  It could be the thing that gets you across the finish line.

Asking for help is a nice way to take the pressure off yourself and work with others for shared success.

Plan for success, prepare for the worst

As we mentioned earlier, when approaching a challenge, you can plan for the best outcome possible, and do all the work to get there, ticking things off your list along the way.

However, it is also helpful to prepare and plan for the worst outcome too. By thinking about the things that could go wrong you not only create realistic expectations, but you can also plan around potential hurdles, preventing the amount of risk.

Think positively and rationally

Instead of getting yourself into a panic spiral, try to remain positive and rational. Often when we begin to stress, every single thing we encounter becomes an added layer of stress. When we let ourselves become overwhelmed, we are more inclined to make mistakes.

It can do wonders to practice some breathing exercises and re-group. Walk into work with a positive mindset, thinking of the things you have achieved and that are going well in the day, then go from there. When you start with a positive outlook, any hiccups may not appear as scary as they might when you are already tense. 

In this article: