I’ve been struggling with the book I’m working on, and it has me thinking a lot about my fear of failure. (If you prefer a video version of this post, I talk about my fear of failure here on my YouTube Channel.)
I try to keep my thoughts positive, but it’s not always easy. That fear of failure is pretty strong in me. I’m trying to work through it and get out of my way because it’s definitely not doing me any favors. There’s never been a time when I’ve sat down and thought, “Whew, I’m so glad I doubted myself.”
Often, if I share my doubts, people will say, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I can come up with a lot of answers to that question. Long detailed answers. Not necessarily realistic, mind you, but DETAILED.
There are a few ways I’ve been trying to work through this lately.
The first is setting goals that I break down into really small goals. I’ve talked a little bit more about my goal setting in one of my YouTube videos.
But basically, if I can consistently take even tiny steps toward my bigger goal, I feel good about it.
FIND ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS
I’ve also found people around me who can hold me accountable. It can be so easy for me to change my personal due dates. Of course, there are valid reasons to change that due date. A family emergency. An alien invasion. Anxiety over a global pandemic that messes with your productivity.
But I don’t always have a valid reason when I change my due dates, which is where accountability partners come in.
It helps me to have people in my life who know what I’m trying to accomplish so they can encourage me to actually get it done.
One thing note is that even if you’re unable to meet with accountability partners in person, there are many ways to virtually meet with people. Jump on a video call and have virtual writing time or chat about your goals. Zoom, Skype, and Facebook all have options for video chats.
I usually meet with a writing group every week, and they’re amazing for many reasons. One is that I love to hear other people read their writing. I find it really inspiring. Another reason is when I tell them my goals, they’ll ask ‘Hey, how’s that going?” and if I say, “Not well,” they can say, “What’s going on? You can do this!”
Sometimes when I’m sitting alone at my computer, I’ll write something and then think, “haha, that’s so funny!” But I’m not sure if anyone else will find me as funny as I find myself. If I read it aloud to people, and they laugh at the right parts, I know at least someone else finds it funny! It’s good to have that validation.
I also have a writer friend I meet with every week. We’ll just write together and talk about writing, and she doesn’t let me make excuses. If I say I want to do something, but I have doubts, she pretty much tells me, “No excuses. You just gotta do it.” Sometimes that’s exactly what I need to hear. And she’ll even give me writing due dates so I’m accountable to her as well as myself. That’s really helpful.
I do some work as a developmental editor, and I help other writers set due dates to reach their goals. There’s sometimes something about getting that information and that structure from someone who doesn’t have the same reservations you have about your own work. So while you may be thinking, “Can I get this done?” They can say, “Yup, you can, and here’s how to do it.”
IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCCESS
Finally I”m trying to focus on the possibility of success versus the fear of failure. Just picturing the, “What if this does work?” instead of the “What if this doesn’t?” can be really powerful. It’s kind of like that dreaded interview question (but more fun because you’re not in a job interview and you can let your imagination run wild). Where do you see yourself in one year, five years, ten years?
I think, “What if everything I want DOES work out?” It maybe won’t work out exactly how I imagine it, but that doesn’t mean I SHOULDN’T imagine it.
Because really, the world isn’t watching and waiting for my failures, so what am I so afraid of?
Do you ever struggle with that fear of failure? How do you work through it? Let me know in the comments down below!