In seven weeks, I will graduate college and enter the “real” world. Whenever this comes up in a conversation, I always hear the standard question: “What are you going to do?”

Me?

I have no idea.

Since I started telling people months ago about finishing up, this question has been a constant in my life. The more people ask me, the more confused I get. I always answer with a safe response they expect to get like, “I’m going to move to Chicago and start working at an agency,” or “I’m going to complete an internship in Salt Lake.” They nod their heads and move along, confident that I answered correctly.

The thing is, I don’t want to do either of those things. I’m actually terrified to graduate because I have no idea what I want to do. I’m mostly scared that I’m going to fall flat on my face and everyone will see me as a failure.

Have you ever felt like that? I think it’s safe to say that fear attacks everyone no matter who you are.

There is hope, I promise. You can overcome fear and accept failure for the beautiful thing it is (as explained in section 4).

So how do I conquer my fears? Here are four steps I have taken that have helped me. These are things you can start with today, right now even. Pull out a paper and write along with the sections, and by the end, you will have learned how to move forward despite your fear (and even reverse it).

 

1. Take control of your own fate

It took me a while, but I finally realized that I was letting other people decide my future for me. As soon as I made the decision for myself without worrying in the least what people thought, a huge weight fell off my shoulders.

I realized that I don’t have to live up to others’ expectations. Enough people do that. I don’t need to be one of them.

You have control of your own fate. When you accept that you and no one else has control of your fate, fear will start to give way to faith.

Start right now by affirming to you will take control of your own fate. You won’t let anyone else take that from you. Say this confidently aloud, write it on a stick for your desk, make it known to the world (or a close friend).

 

2. Have faith in yourself

One of the main reasons we fear is because we don’t believe we have any power. We think that we can’t do enough to make the changes and we’ll fail anyway.

Maybe.

I fail magnificently all the time. Constantly. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get it right. Then one day I do get it right only to fail at something else. Failure will always be part of life. If you let that fear of failure stop you, you will never try anything.

Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You are more capable than you think you are.

Start now by listing your strengths. What are you actually good at? It can be as simple as being good at listening or that you make really tasty chocolate chip cookies or that you are good at following directions. Your strengths don’t have to be world-moving strengths, but I promise you do have strengths.

 

3. Start small

Most times, I look at my to-do list and all the things I have to do. Immediately, I’m overwhelmed with fear. That overwhelming feeling makes me want to curl in a ball in my bed with the lights off and forget the world.

The problem is that the task is too big. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Start small.

Break down your “impossible” task into small manageable steps. The smaller you make this steps, the easier they will be to complete. Try to make them 15-30 minutes steps. Anything longer will seem difficult, and you may not even start.

On particularly bad days, I don’t even know how I’ll start a project no matter how small I think I’ve broken down the task. On days like that, I write down the smallest things I can think that I need to do like “open my laptop” and “sign into my blog.” When I write this is checklist form, I get a little rush from checking off those small bits.

It may seem that the smaller you make the list items the less you will actually do. No true. I think to myself that I wouldn’t have gotten anything done at all if I hadn’t made that list, and no matter how small my list item, it’s better than doing nothing.

The best part about starting small is that when you start to accomplish your goals, you start to take charge of your life and find faith in yourself. Failure doesn’t seem as scary anymore because you know you can do hard things.

Start now by writing down something you have put off because of your fear of failure. Put it at the top of the page. Now write down all the steps you need to take to complete that.

 

4. Change your thinking

Success feels great, and I think that’s why we like it so much, but that doesn’t mean that failure is bad. Does that make sense? Success and failure are not as opposite as you may think.

Let me explain.

My whole life, I was told I would be great. When I did well on assignments, projects, or following the rules, my parents and leaders praised me. It felt good. People looked at me as the “good” kid and it felt great. When I failed at something, I would get the opposite. Those leaders I respected would give me a look that made me never want to make a mistake again.

I tried my whole life to live up to the expectations put on me so that I would get the praise I needed. In doing this, I created an intense fear of failure.

Over time, my view of failure has changed. When you see a little child fall down as they try to walk, do you yell at them? Of course not! They are learning from falling. They are pushing the limits, and they start to see how far they can lean to one side or how fast they can walk before falling.

That’s what failure is for.

Failure is for pushing limits. When people fail, it is because they are pushing boundaries. That is brave. If Thomas Edison hadn’t pushed the limits of knowledge of electricity, would he have ever invented the lightbulb? When we stay tucked deep in our comfort zone, we can’t fail. It feels nice to never fail, but then we aren’t even human anymore. We are meant to push the limits.

Changing how you view failure will lessen your fear of it. You won’t be scared to try anymore because you will know you can learn from it. You’ll start to progress, and once you learning from your failures, you will have truly overcome your fear of failure.

Start right now by thinking of a success of yours you are truly proud of because of the struggle you had making it a success. How did you feel when you finally succeeded? What did you have to overcome? How did you overcome those obstacles? Write this down on a piece of paper. Ponder on how failure has helped you.

 

It starts now

At the end of each section, I listed what you can do right now to start overcoming your fear of failure. Here they are again.

  1. Start right now by affirming to you will take control of your own fate. You won’t let anyone else take that from you. Say this confidently aloud, write it on a stick for your desk, make it known to the world (or a close friend).
  2. Start now by listing your strengths. What are you actually good at? It can be as simple as being good at listening or that you make really tasty chocolate chip cookies or that you are good at following directions. Your strengths don’t have to be world-moving strengths, but I promise you do have strengths.
  3. Start now by writing down something you have put off because of your fear of failure. Put it at the top of the page. Now write down all the steps you need to take to complete that.
  4. Start right now by thinking of a success of yours you are truly proud of because of the struggle you had making it a success. How did you feel when you finally succeeded? What did you have to overcome? How did you overcome those obstacles? Write this down on a piece of paper. Ponder on how failure has helped you.

Do this right now. Take the first step toward overcoming fear. I promise you can do this. You are strong, and you can do hard things.

 

What has helped you overcome your fear of failure?

The Art of Pure Living Conquer your fear of failure