Afraid to fail? This checklist helps me

Hi there,

When thinking about trying something new or heading in a fresh direction, many of us hear that voice: Don’t do it. What if you screw up?

Fear of failure can be a big roadblock. It can keep you stuck on a path you already know, even as new things beckon.


When I hesitate, these are some of the thoughts and practical tips that help get me moving: 

  • Don’t expect your output to change if your input stays the same. Want to change how you do? Then you’ll have to change what you’re doing.

  • Failing at something is above all annoying for you. Keep in mind that most other people are more concerned with their own performance than with yours. Use that to your advantage.

  • Are you reluctant to say Yes! to that exciting new project because you’re not sure whether you can pull it off? Identify the critical components and tackle them first.

  • Separate the making stage from the sharing stage. Your fears will subside once you get started and see what you can do. That often comes before the phase when you let others in on what you’re doing. Give yourself room to take big risks in this early, safe stage, when no one knows the details of what you’re working on.
    I often use this technique when I’m writing. Constantly putting yourself in a reader’s shoes can be paralyzing. If I keep in mind that I can edit and adapt my work later, it gives me the freedom I need to just get down what’s in my head.

  • Don’t get stuck deliberating about things you can easily fix down the road. Just do them. If things go awry, it’s easy to change course.

  • Create some leeway for yourself, to scout out the situation. If you think you may get stuck (if you’re unsure which approach is best, for instance, and want to try one out first), then arrange for some more time from the start. Say: “Is it OK if I take a week for my solution?” even though you know you can make a lot of progress in one day. That gives you all the room you need to change tack, if need be.

  • Cliché alert: If you don’t ever get started, you’re sure to fail. You learn by doing, and getting going boosts your confidence. It’s the only way to chalk up fresh successes.

Have a good week!

Rick