Fear Of Failure? How To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Avoid Regret

4 Feb 2016

Fear of failure? How to get out of your comfort zone and avoid regret

Fear of failure.

Fear of failure can hit anyone at anytime. You have an idea you’d like to bring to fruition, a humungous goal it would be awesome to accomplish, or an exciting new hobby you’d love to take up. But then the fear monster rears it’s ugly head. “How am I going to do that?” “It could be a major disaster.” “Who am I kidding?? – that’s waaay beyond me” “People will think I’m an idiot!” “Maybe next year!” And so it goes.

image Fear of failure

And so you stay in your comfort zone

We’ve all heard stories about people who are dying, talking about what they regret. But it’s not just the dying who have regrets. You may start regretting the things that you didn’t do at any age. Sure, you might regret mistakes you’ve made as well, but those mistakes usually aren’t big enough to make you keep on regretting them.

But regretting things you didn’t do can cause you deep sadness and even grief.

For example, as you age, you might find that some of the goals you’d like to have achieved are not an option for you now, because you no longer have the physical capability.

It’s fear that stops us going after our bigger goals and dreams

Fear of failure might prevent us from going after massively inspiring goals. Or we worry that if we’re successful our success will impact negatively in other areas of our lives and relationships. We may even just be afraid of getting out of our comfort zones. But it’s in the process of pursuing big goals that we grow.

We expand our knowledge and brain power and sometimes even our physical power. We only grow when we step outside our comfort zones. And even if we don’t achieve the goal, we still learn a lot in the process.

One of the beliefs that NLP Practitioners hold is that ‘There’s no failure, only feedback.’ If we treat anything that might go ‘wrong’ as feedback (rather than failure), we become more objective and can learn from it, developing increasing flexibility. When we label something as a failure it tends to stop us in our tracks.

So we set ‘Comfort Zone Goals’ instead
comfort zone

Photo by Makhmutova Dina on Unsplash

These are smaller and less courageous goals. While we can at least feel as if we’ve achieved something, they often don’t inspire us to greatness. It’s worthwhile asking yourself the question: ‘What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?’ Then sit quietly and listen. What is your heart yearning for? Maybe you want to run a marathon, but you’ve never even jogged before? Maybe you’d love to start your own business, but you don’t know where to start, and you’re worried about missing the regular income from your job?

What is it?

Perhaps you want to go to university and study for an advanced qualification but wonder if you have sufficient brain power, time or staying power. I don’t know – what is it you’d love to do that would take you out of your comfort zone and into another part of town?

Whatever it is, I expect someone else has already done it. And if someone else can do it, then you can too.

Notice the word ‘but’ in all the goals I mentioned above. Those ‘buts’ are roadblocks; things that are going to get in your way. However, if you’re really inspired by your goal, you won’t let a piddly little road block hold you up. You didn’t when you were a toddler.

As a small child, you spotted something you wanted — and you went after it

You found ways, under, over, through or around every roadblock your parents could put in front of you and you got what you wanted (you determined little devil, you!) Well, guess what? You’ve so many more skills and abilities now than that tiny toddler had. Plus you can walk without falling over!

So, is fear of failure holding you back from achieving all you’re capable of? 

The way to get around fear is, first and foremost, to acknowledge it.

Bring it out of the dark and examine it in the cold light of day.

Write every fear and every obstacle down on paper. They often seem a lot more handleable when they’re not swimming around and bumping noses inside your head.

How do you allay your fears?

You can figure out and plan ways to get past the fears in the same way you can plan to get past the obstacles. You could talk to someone you trust and get their input. You could get a coach to help and guide you (Hellooo – pick me!) Remember that you don’t have to handle everything on day one. You can preempt and deal with some obstacles, but others will undoubtedly arise to take their place.

Plan ways to handle them, visualise yourself overcoming them and just keep the momentum going. The alternative is that you join the throngs of people whose motto is, “Ah well, I tried. Obviously it just wasn’t meant to be.” Whereas, with just a little more effort, perseverance and putting the fear of failure on the back burner, you could just as easily join the likes of our own Sir Edmond Hillary who famously said, after becoming the first person to reach the summit of Mt Everest, “We knocked the bastard off!”

Watch this social experiment video from aplus.com which asked people to write their biggest regret.

What would you do with your clean slate?

Need help to get past your fear of failure or to help you achieve that wonderful goal? Have a look at the Private Coaching and Mentoring Programme.