How much is fear and the risk of failure keeping us from taking a chance on getting what we really want? For most of us, that fear is the only thing that is truly stopping us from going after our biggest dreams and desires.
There can be other things like lack of money, time, or education that are all holding us back from those first few steps, but even those things are just excuses that keep us from saying that we are too scared to start working on our passions.
If it’s worth doing, it probably involves risk
Everything that is worth doing comes with a certain number of risk factors. Starting our own business, trying out for the semi-pro team, applying for graduate school, asking your crush out on a date, applying for your dream job, or preparing to run a marathon all require taking the risk of failing.
The potential embarrassment of attempting something and falling flat on our faces is enough to keep most of us from trying. There is also the chance of putting ourselves at risk of financial ruin or of missing out on other opportunities while we are trying to make our dreams come true.
If living the lives we really want was easy though, wouldn’t everyone already be doing it? If it was within reach for all of us, wouldn’t that make it lose some of it’s appeal?
There is no way to have a conversation about taking risks without first talking through failure. Unfortunately, wanting our dreams badly enough and working towards achieving them with everything we’ve got doesn’t mean that we eliminate the chance of failure.
No amount of time, energy, or passion will guarantee that things will work out the way that we hope they will. That seems like a depressing start to the point I am making, but I actually meant it to be encouraging.
Failure doesn’t mean that we aren’t cut out for the path we chose or that there is something wrong with us. There is the potential to fail in any endeavor that anyone takes on. In fact, it can just be a necessary stepping stone on the way to our dreams. Failure means learning something that we didn’t know before we started.
Most successful people first had terrible failures before they got to where they are today. Oprah, Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison, and countless other individuals who are known for their great achievements have all faced what would have seemed at the time to be the end of the road for them. It’s safe to say that remarkable success is only possible in the company of great failures.
Failure in perspective
Now that we know that failure is an unavoidable part of making it to our dreams, what can we do to help eliminate some of the fear of failing?
One of the best things that we can do to take control of our fear is to face it head on. When we take a good long look at the fears that are holding us back we can see them for the smoke and mirrors that they really are, and we can stop letting them immobilize us.
Is it the fear of not knowing where to begin? Let’s start by doing some research; making some calls, finding an online coach. No matter what our dreams may be, there are resources out there that can help.
Are we afraid that we don’t have the energy, the knowledge, or the skills to make our dreams successful? Let’s all take a step back and remind ourselves that if our dreams are still on our minds, then we have what it takes to make them happen.
During the process of chasing our dreams we will have to continually remind ourselves why we wanted to start. Things will get hard, barricades will come up, we will be tired, drained, and discouraged but we will have to dig down deep inside our souls and envision ourselves at that finish line if we are going to keep ourselves from quitting.
Do you know what else will help rid us of our fear of failure? Letting ourselves fail. Let it happen!
Walt Disney had his fair share of mishaps before he found his success. When talking about his failures he said, “I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young… Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid.”
Let’s welcome the necessary disappointments on this journey that we are about to embark on. We will need to accept that there will be bad days and there will be good days, and the good is really only possible hand-in-hand with the bad.
The alternative to risk taking is never taking a change at anything and always choosing what is safe. Always staying in our comfort zone means that we could avoid some bumps and bruises, but it limits our perspective on the world and it inhibits us from truly getting to know ourselves.
JK Rowling put it this way, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
We would all benefit from jumping from our comfort zones frequently. There is no way for us to evolve if we aren’t creating change in our environments. Brain stimulating puzzles and games have become popular lately to keep our minds engaged, challenged, and stimulated.
Going through the motions of a typical day does not challenge the mind enough and there are parts of our brains that begin to fire slower and slower over time of idleness. The same is true with anything else in our lives. If we aren’t exercising courage, creativity, or grit, we start to lose them.
When used more frequently, those attributes shape us into more dimensional versions of ourselves and keep us more in-tune to our emotions and our desires.
I asked myself these questions a few days ago and I encourage you to do the same:
What do you really want out of your life? Are you doing the things it will take to get there on a daily basis?
What things are you holding yourself back from because you are afraid that you will fail at it? Are the risks of failing worth it when you imagine yourself succeeding?
If we all ask ourselves these questions from time to time, and we keep challenging ourselves and others to never stop taking risks for the things that we really want, we might find that an entire world of possibilities has been right at our fingertips all along.