When Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” he may have been talking about hockey, but his statement is true about life in general. When we allow the fear of failure to keep us from trying, we make our own fear come true.
For many years I had a lot of life dreams ranging from traveling abroad to writing a book. What all my seemingly unrelated dreams had in common was that I hadn’t fulfilled them. And my list of excuses as to why was just as varied as the list of dreams itself: I didn’t want to take time away from the kids; I didn’t want to spend any money on myself; other people would judge me (not many women put “Go to a strip club” on their list of life dreams!). But for all my excuses, the truth was that I was afraid to fail.
Here are three things that helped me get through my fear of failure and on with the process of fulfilling my dreams. Give them a try and see if they work for you too.
1. Name that fear. Don’t allow your fear to remain vague; think specifically about what it is. For example, I always wanted to take a surfing lesson but had let fear stop me. Generally speaking I was afraid I’d fail at it. Specifically speaking I was afraid I’d panic, hyperventilate, and drown. Once I knew exactly what I was dealing with, I was able to start working through it.
2. Answer the question. Do you play the “What if?” game? The one where you ask, “What if _____ ?” and then fill in the blank with the most terrible outcome you can come up with? Try answering your own question, and whatever that answer is, ask yourself, “And then what?” Once you have that response, repeat this process until you’ve run out of answers. When you’ve determined your worst possible scenario, chances are you’ll recognize how unlikely it is to actually happen and how even if it did, you’d probably live to tell about it.
3. Make your rules. Who says a failure has to signify the end of the road? If you choose to regroup and figure out a new plan, then it’s not failing at all, it’s trying. And as long as you keep trying, then you’re bound to reach your goal.