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. 

Invite Hope

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