4 Steps I Took to Beat Down My Fear of Failure

4 Steps I Took to Beat Down My Fear of FailureIMG_1515 (1)

By Erin Hendrix

The day I heard back from the local Arts Charter School confirming I could rent their dance room to host my new endeavor, an Early Childhood Integrated Arts Program for children ages 3-6, I experienced an intense switch of emotion from the prior months of enthusiasm and dreaming to anticipation combined with an overpowering fear of failure. Opening date was now 6 months away. Days later, parents were calling me to enroll their children, but, there were still not enough children to be able to open my school. Fearing the real possibility of failure was starting to challenge the excitement of my new endeavor.

Unfortunately, I fueled my fear of failure with hours of negative self-talk. What if I don’t have enough students? What if nobody likes my philosophy of education? What if the children don’t enjoy the classes? What if I can’t pay rent? I knew I had to break this fear that was starting to hinder my progress. I accomplished this through four steps that helped check my fear curbside while I made strides toward the first day of classes.

Step 1: I chose a time of the day to consciously think about and work toward my goals.

My new endeavor was consuming my life. It devoured my thoughts at breakfast, while I was showering, and was the last thing I worried about before falling asleep. It made me appear absentminded to my family. Don’t let this happen to you!

Instead, I planned a time into my days when I would consciously think about my new endeavor and I used that time to make a plan. I started with two hours a day, from 2 pm-4pm. When the time ran out, I re-focused on what I had at the present moment. This may have been my child’s parent-child gymnastics class, my current job’s next deadline, or being prepared for my next family holiday. When I would catch myself falling back into constant thinking about my endeavor, I would remind myself I had a special time every day, to think about and work toward my goals. It transformed my life.

Step 2: I turned my negative statements into proactive statements and I wrote them down.

                Allowing my negative statements, fueled by fear, to consume my thoughts was not bringing me closer to reaching my goals and was spreading negativity into other areas of my life. Instead of allowing the negative statements to linger, I switched each one into a proactive statement and I wrote them down.               

Below are two examples of negative statements I turned into proactive statements.

Negative Statement: What if I don’t have enough students?

Proactive Statement: I will have 8 students in my first Integrated Creative Arts Preschool and Kindergarten class.

Negative Statement: What if I don’t have enough money to pay for rent, materials, or employees?

Proactive Statement: Tuition will be priced appropriately to cover rent, materials, and employee salaries.

Step 3: I brainstormed actions I would do to ensure each of my proactive statements came true.

The first proactive statement I focused on was “I will have 8 students in my first Integrated Creative Arts Preschool and Kindergarten class.” I knew without any students, I could not open my school. I also knew that by brainstorming how to market to families, important business items I needed to accomplish would come to the forefront of my focus.

I brainstormed as many ways possible to make this proactive statement come true. I circled the top 3.

  1. Email friends and acquaintances regarding the opening date and program offered along with a request for them to forward the information on to anybody they felt would be interested.
  2. Create a website.
  3. Print-off fliers and bring them along with me anywhere I went in case I met somebody along the way who was interested.

I knew exactly what my actions would be. Next, I had to make sure I accomplished them in a timely manner.

Step 4: I assigned each action a date of completion.

                It was important I made steady progress, as there were many details to opening up a school. I had to keep myself on track by assigning each of my actions a completion date. Doing this allowed me to feel less overwhelmed and organize my thoughts to only focus on what I needed to be completed next.

For example:

  1. Email friends and acquaintances regarding the opening date and program offered along with a request for them to forward the information on to anybody they felt would be interested by February 1, 2009.
  2. Create a website by March 1, 2009.

-Take photos by February 7, 2009.

-Purchase domain name by February 10, 2009.

-Have website program content by February 15, 2009.

  1. Print-off fliers by March 5, 2009.

When I broke my fear of failure into positive statements with actions and completion dates, I was able to feel like I was ensuring the success of my new endeavor. By knowing my actions would bring success, the fear of failure and my anxiety was able to stay under control. I hope you are able to apply these four steps to your endeavors and experience the satisfaction of your completed goals as well.

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