How Fear Of Failure Keeps Us From Pursuing The Career We Were Meant To Do
“Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.” -Maya Angelou
When you fear failure, you paralyze yourself into a career that’s not right for you. And a career that is a bad fit permeates into your efforts and job performance. You may refrain from speaking up to demonstrate leadership skills because you don’t want to rock the boat and maybe lose your job; or, in your situational-induced restlessness, routine tasks seem insurmountable. The effort of trying to conform yourself into a badly fitting job wears you out.
Deep down you may already know what the right career is for you, but you’ve convinced yourself it’s beyond your grasp because the thought of possibly not getting what you want is just too painful or out of reach. Instead, you drift along feeling unfulfilled, unmotivated, and uninspired; going through the motions every day, trying to convince yourself it’s not so bad. But it is so bad, and I want better for you! I want you to come alive each morning, eager to get to your job, excited to see what the day brings, then returning home feeling satisfied with your accomplishments.
Move Past The Fear To Your Dream Career
If this sounds impossible, take heart.
Some of my clients who had locked themselves into a profession that was wrong for them found the courage to break free. They found a career that spoke to their passion and strengths, and they are thriving. You can too, even if you don’t yet know what that perfect career is.
The first step is for you to acknowledge the fear that’s holding you back, because until you acknowledge it you can’t let it go. Many of us have been taught to either bury our fear and pretend it doesn’t exist, or to bluster our way past it. Neither of these support you to liberate yourself from a poor situation.
You need not feel ashamed about your fear of failure, which often comes about because of past failures we’ve either experienced or observed. As Thomas Edison said when he invented the light bulb after many experiments, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
You likely have found ways that won’t work –we all have. What’s important is that you are able to move past any self-judgment to find the lessons. Ask yourself what you’ve learned from past experiences. How you would make different choices if you faced the same situation in the future? These experiences contain the seeds of a strategy you can follow to pursue the career you were meant to have.
There Is No Shame In Your Fear
There is no shame in letting your fear hold you back from a career that you’ll love. I encourage you to have compassion for yourself. Fear comes about because we see our past choices in a negative way that makes us limit ourselves out of a belief we can escape future pain. You did the best you could at the time; you made the choices you believed were right. Since you can’t change the past, why not ask yourself what you can do different in the future? Often we fear failure and don’t take action because we expect others to judge us and find us lacking.
We worry we’ll lose their respect. Since by nature we’re social creatures who don’t want to lose other’s approval, the thought of being judged is particularly painful. Nonetheless, I encourage you to release the need for approval that keeps you stuck.
Be Inspired By Others
Next, let yourself be inspired by people who have overcome their fear of failure and are highly successful in their chosen field. Examples that come to mind are author Stephen King, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and the singer/dancer/actress Beyonce. Their stories are freely available online.
But your inspiration doesn’t have to come from famous millionaires and billionaires. If you personally know someone who overcame their fear, I encourage you to find out how they did so. Ask if they would share their insights and suggestions, or if they would be willing to meet with you to support you.
A person who believes in you and encourages you is a godsend, especially for the times you feel down and discouraged and just want to give up.
Even a a few minutes of well-timed support can make the difference between hope and fear. And as Maya Angelou said, both can’t occupy the same space. So, invite hope to stay with you. Tell the fear of failure to get lost. You’ve got better things to do. You’ve got a wonderful career to pursue!
My book ,Happiness, Passion, and Purpose, will be available soon. I’ve filled it with practical exercises to help you identify a career you will love
How Your Challenges Bring You Success
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” –Winston Churchill
Life is full of challenges. The mere act of living creates contrast between what you want and what you don’t want. Which is wonderful because experiencing what’s unwanted – also known as a challenge – brings you much greater clarity about what you do want.
In other words, the times you struggle are ripe with enormous potential to define your path to success.
An Easy Life Isn’t Necessarily A Successful One
Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Surely if you got everything you wanted and life was easy, you’d be much more successful?
Well, think of it like building muscle. When you do resistance training, your muscles grow. You challenge yourself by increasing the weight you lift. By working through the challenge of lifting a heavier weight, you reach your fitness goals. The same principle applies for achieving the success you seek; by working through your challenges, not only can reach your goals but you can hone the details and get clear about what you want to achieve.
There will be days when you want to give up.
Exhausting times when you feel you can’t take one more step. When you want to lay your head down and weep.
When you do, pause. Rest. Rejuvenate.
But only for a brief time.
And then carry on.
Because you won’t forgive yourself if you quit.
You’ll forever wonder what you could have accomplished if only you hadn’t given up.
And you don’t have to struggle alone! Reach out to someone you trust: a friend, mentor, family member, or coach. Share your story. Let them know about your dreams and goals. Ask how they can support you.
Sometimes you need is someone to be a sounding board while you bounce ideas off them. Someone to keep you honest when you can’t clearly see your situation, you’re feeling discouraged, and you want to give up. And someone to celebrate your victories with you, no matter how big or small.
Challenges Are Fertile Ground
I know it’s asking a lot to want you to view your challenges as something positive.
Some days it’s easier than others.
But what if you really got, in your bones, that struggle is a precursor to success?
You will learn to appreciate the times you’ve been challenged. You become a person who sees the positive aspects in all of her life experiences; who feels grateful for her opportunities; whose optimism inspires not only herself but those around her.
Overcoming your challenges brings gratitude, an essential component of an excellent life. When you regularly look for things in your life to be grateful for, you cultivate a mindset that challenges are positive and failure simply doesn’t exist.
Be Ready For Success On Your Terms, Not Anyone Else’s
I don’t wish hard times on anyone. I’ve just been around long enough to know that life throws us curve balls all on its own. And when it does, I want you to be ready to knock that ball out of the park.
Maybe not the first time.
Or the second.
But I want you to face your struggles head on and dig deep for the treasure within them:
- Ease (Yes, ease can flow from struggle!)
Leading, ultimately, to a successful life, however you define success.
And that’s the truly great part. Success will be on yourterms, not anyone else’s. Your life is unique. There’s no one else who can experience it, live it, and respond to the circumstances. This uniqueness in turn makes your goals, dreams, and aspirations unlike anyone else’s.
You’ll Be Grateful For Your Struggles
I promise you, one day you’ll look back and be grateful for the times you struggled. Because those challenges brought you personal fulfillment you couldn’t have discovered any other way, just as a beautiful pearl can’t be formed without a grain of sand in an oyster provoking irritation.
When you’ve moved through your struggles, your life will become that pearl.
So when you’re going through hell, keep going. Even if you pause to rest, you’re not quitting—you’re building more perseverance. Hold your head high and carry on. You’ll be glad you did.
If you’d like to know more about how I help clients develop strategies tailored to their specific circumstances and needs, my book Happiness, Passion, and Purpose is packed full of exercises and strategies you can put to use immediately. The book will be available in early 2019. In the meantime, you can sign up here to be added to my mailing list.
How To Find A Career That Speaks To Your Passion
“Life is struggle.”
Everyone goes through ups and downs in life, which I see as something positive. This may make no sense to you. You may wonder if I’m an advocate for suffering! I’m not.
But I know that within the challenges you’ve experienced are significant opportunities to discover a career will be utterly passionate about. And because challenges are inevitable, I want to help you find a way to see them as the fertile ground for career fulfillment they are.
Have A Career You Love Instead Of One You Were Typecast Into
If you’ve ever been pushed in the direction of a particular profession based on something other than your passion, then take heart from my client Josh’s story.
Josh was a college student who was failing his degree program in neuroscience despite his high ACT science scores. Because he’d been diagnosed with ADHD, his family assumed it was simply a matter of developing compensatory academic skills. Although we worked on his skills, I sensed there was more going on, and we investigated whether neuroscience was the right field for him. It shortly became evident that Josh had intense passion and strength—just not in neuroscience! Instead, Josh had always dreamed of working in an investigative field as a detective, like Sherlock Holmes.
After researching his options, Josh decided to switch majors and study Global Security, a field that involves gathering intelligence and putting diverse chunks of information together like pieces of a puzzle. It meant he would help keep people safe, just like Josh’s favorite detectives.
At first, he saw his academic and career transition challenges as insurmountable. Not only was his GPA low, making schools reluctant to accept him, Josh had internalized a strong belief that he was “bad at school.” Although he wholeheartedly believed Global Security was the right program, at first he was reluctant to apply.
Together, we developed a strategy he followed to raise his GPA and find academic officials who were able to appreciaate his passion instead of assessing his application based only on his transcripts. He applied and was accepted into a Global Security studies program.
For Josh, the difference between studying something he loved and something he had been told by others to study was incredible. He was anything but bad at school; in fact, he had a near perfect GPA in graduate school.
8 Questions To Help You Figure Out A Career You’ll Love
I have no doubt Josh will be incredibly successful in his chosen profession. Imagine though, how things may have turned out had he not been willing to deal with his challenges, dig deep, and discover a career he was passionate about.
You can start right now to figure out a career you will love. Set aside a little bit of time, be totally honest with yourself – even if it feels a little ridiculous! – and enjoy the adventure of answering these questions:
1. What motivates me in life?
2. What have I wanted, but never gotten, in life?
3. What energizes me? How?
4. What brings me the most joy? Why?
5. What are my biggest interests?
6. What do I REALLY, REALLY want in life?
7. Who do I enjoy being around? Why?
8. How can I turn these loves and desires into a statement of purpose for the next several years of my life?
When you’re finished answering them, you’ll have gained insight about yourself as well as some career possibilities that speak to your passion.
If you find this a little daunting, don’t worry. This is when a career coach comes in handy, to support you through the times you feel overwhelmed or stuck.
Find Your Purpose
Being stuck in a job that doesn’t fulfill you is like dragging through life smothered in a wet blanket. Sure, you have a paycheck coming in. The bills get paid. But it’s not much fun to spend your days uninspired and unengaged, especially if you’re also struggling with issues that you’ve been told limit your career choices.
Instead, I want you to experience the satisfaction of discovering a career that speaks to your passion. I encourage you to use the wisdom you gained from dealing with and overcoming your challenges to sharpen your self-awareness and home in on the perfect career choice with you.
And if you’d like more exercises to support you to discover a career you love, my book Happiness, Passion, and Purpose will help! It will be available in early 2019. Sign up here at www.razcoaching.com/newsletter to be notified when it’s ready.