Getting Over That Pernicious Fear of Failure

Jennifer Dennard @JennDennard
July 18, 2016  | Last Updated: July 18, 2016


Who among us hasn’t been “overwhelmed with life” at one point or another? Work, parenting, school, marriage, household responsibilities, finances, caregiving for your elders … the list sometimes seems to go in a million different directions with no end(s) in sight. 

When I start feeling overwhelmed, it’s usually because I am losing control – control of my time, priorities, and ability to manage all the plates I thought I could keep spinning. Ultimately, it boils down to a fear of failure, a fear that I think women have taken special ownership of as we seek – either consciously or subconsciously – to be all things to all people without serious thought for our own wellbeing. 


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Why do we fail? It’s because we:

  • Don’t know what we want.
  • Don’t do what we know.
  • Don’t associate with the right people.
  • Don’t take the time to self-educate.
  • Do what everyone else is doing, instead of what we’re truly passionate about.
  • Don’t take enough risks.
  • Give up.

Failing in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s the not even trying that will truly stymy your zest for life. 

Summer is halfway over. There are just weeks left until the kids go back to school – weeks of downtime that I plan to use plotting out my next endeavor. (Anyone else besides me do their best thinking at the beach?) I’ve been mulling it over for a year now, and it’s finally time to take a risk and get the ball rolling. Failure may be in the cards, but I’d rather see a project fold than feel like a failure for not even having tried.

Perhaps I will “fail fast,” another phrase that shows no signs of leaving our lexicon anytime soon. I attribute it mainly to startup culture, but it can apply to just about any risk-bearing endeavor – from trying out a new recipe to starting your own business. Whatever the level of failure, I will hopefully learn a few life lessons from it that I can share with you, dear readers.

Whatever the future holds, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and embrace the possibility of failure by trying something new – something you, too, have been contemplating but have been too apprehensive about to commit to. The wholehearted attempt will leave you feeling fulfilled no matter the outcome. Here’s to taking control and embracing your fear of failure!  


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