The Fear of Failure

Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something. – Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Japanese martial art of Aikido

Letting anyone else judge our failures might never be as good as our assessment of our own efforts and our analysis of the results. This simply is because we learn best about ourselves as compared to anyone else. However, developing these self-learning habits does not have to be all about ourselves. We can also learn from the mistakes of others for our personal growth.

The following are the 10 most common causes of failures that many of us have failed to address.

1. Disciplines and Habits

In order to secure our goals in a more comfortable and convincing manner, most of us practice certain disciplines to ensure consistency in our efforts. Once the difficulties in completing the other goals increases, aside from our knowledge and skills, we have to rely on the basic disciplines and experiences we have developed throughout the earlier stages of our projects on our goals.

Another example of such discipline would be widely witnessed in sports where training, diet and even sleeping time have to be strictly adhered to for the best performance. Since various sports deals with the physical limits, many sportspeople have to give up their preferred lifestyle to follow the disciplines set by the scientists and experts in their respective sports.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle

2. Lack of Personalized Planning

Goal setting simply is not always a detail plan as to how every action should be executed. This common misconception meant that many people do not personalize their plans to suit themselves in many aspects.

In many cases, excellent goal setters do not recognize the significance of personalizing a plan to achieve their goals.

Instead of understanding how their abilities and knowledge can be utilized for the project in a well-planned way, they become poor at executing their plans which are not suitable for themselves. Just like in any soccer team, you cannot expect a well-trained defender to play as a forward during a competitive match.

He might not score, create or assist in any goals not just because he was trained as a defender but also his natural talents are not equivalent to a forward’s. Asking for help or even forming a team with others who are experts at different skills and arranging tasks and targets which match the difficulties of their expertise might seem a better idea.

3. Lack of Actions and Motivation

Most of us presume that people who have set goals but do not make any attempts in achieving it as lazy. What we do not know is the fact that being lazy is human nature that most of us can overturn once we have found the meanings in our goals. Such meaning is being given higher value over the loss of comfort as motivated people strive to achieve their goals with these meanings.

Medical professionals can take pride in restoring the health and in the gratitude of the patients while teachers can be satisfied in the improvements and achievements of their students in life. But if a marketing executive whose opinions and work are often overlooked by his/her manager, then we can be sure that s/he will lack motivation and work performance will also deteriorate. Lacking actions and motivation can also be the effects of the fear of failure and rejection.

4. Fear of Failure

As you have read stories of what successful people achieved in their businesses, you probably have also heard how many have failed and went back to their office jobs. What influences your decision to start the business which you’ve spent months of research on is basically the risk of losing money over the long term.

On top of that, there is also the psychological factor which is the fear of being judged when facing our own failures. The fear that people including our own families will think negatively of our failures has often deterred most of us from using advanced goal setting techniques to start our plans. Such mentality can hinder us from any actions towards our goals.

Some consider the risk of losing too much in the future as not even worth the effort to set a goal. Surely, there are also others who are more than capable to achieve their goals but somehow lack the courage or confidence to set goals.

5. Fear of Rejection

The fear of being rejected for having goals which are not accepted by the society is a very common psychological obstacle. While most of us enjoy our work or are proud of our jobs, some families cannot even accept the very different ambitions of their children. Such children are an example of many whose goal setting and ideas are hampered by constant fear of rejection.

6. Accountability

While this is different from lacking motivation, being held accountable or responsible for your goals will not be a burden to you. In fact, trying to accomplish your goals creates a sense of responsibility especially if you share the goals with other people.

Having responsibilities on your goals means you will not give up easily and will try your best to achieve these goals. Nevertheless, we should not see such responsibilities as burdens as we remind ourselves the passion and meaning we derived from our goals in the earlier stages.

7. Lack of Review of Work and Analysis of Results

The rate of improvement in performance can be affected by the lack of review, whether we succeed or fail in our work. While many can argue that monitoring progress can surely determine excellence, the habit of reviewing the details of our actions is a very beneficial work ethic that we should embody.

In teaching the subject of Mathematics to weaker students, teachers would often help students discover why their answers are often incorrect by teaching them to review the steps taken to solve the mathematical problem. Once the teacher identifies and explains the mistake in the steps involved, the student will remember not to make the same mistake through thorough practice for the same type of Mathematical question.


We can typically compare our work with reviewing steps taken to solve a Math question. Often, we may get the assistance of others to review our work or problems as we may not share the same perspective. The opinions of an experienced expert or a more knowledgeable colleague will be useful for your learning of your work. More often than not, we tend to overlook improvement especially when the results indicate no room for further improvement. It may take some of our time to review our work but it definitely can be an excellent learning curve for our future.

8. Surrounded by Negative Vibes

We can never downplay the influence of the people around us, whether they are family, friends or even our neighbors. In common perception, the closer these people are to us, the more weight their opinions carry on our life decisions. In certain circumstances, some of them might discourage us from pursuing our goals. The common reason is the risk and the costs of pursuing our goals are not worth our resources and time as they are not as rewarding.

While they have very valid reasons to dissuade us, the choice will still be ours to make. To a certain extent, some of our naysayers may even affect our emotions to justify their opinions and strengthen their beliefs in facts. Whereas some have very kind intentions, what they do have to respect is our rights to have the final say in every decision of our lives.

On a more positive note, we should take their opinions, whatever facts and figures which can help us to research on our goals even more. As our research helps us gain even more information on our goals, then we can decide to work on our goals or have different goals.

9. Too Much Focus on the Goal Itself

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome. –Arthur Ashe

Intense concentration on the goal itself might reduce our happiness over the long run. We place such excessive pressure on ourselves to perform to certain standards that this amount of stress can really affect our living pleasures. The more advisable thinking of our goals is to direct our focus on daily practice instead of wishing to achieve long term goals in the least amount of time.

In this condition, we can also question ourselves whether our goal-based mentality is putting so much stress that we ignore life after these goals. If we wish to progress beyond accomplishing these goals, then we must release the need to obtain results immediately as some goals will inevitably require time.

10. Downplaying Your Achievements

One of the ultimate sources of motivation is the reward itself. Because of this, we must not downplay our achievements or be too humble that we chose not to give credit to ourselves. This mentality not only depletes us of the necessary fuel to chase after our dreams but also our self-confidence in the long term. While there are many ways to celebrate an achievement, the scale of such celebrations should not risk our developments of other goals as though we have lived to accomplish that one particular goal in life.

If you’d like to discuss more, contact me and let’s discuss.



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