Today I’m sharing one question (and answer) that speaks to people who struggle with chronic stress and anxiety – fear of failure.
How do I handle the stress of failure?
“I’m suffering with stress and the thought of failure is killing me. I’m not doing well at my job at all. My path isn’t going the way I thought it would and now I’m in a heap of dread and regret. I’m afraid of the future and I’m afraid I’m not cut out for life. Any words of personal experience and expertise?”
If you can type your question then you’re at least doing better than this ^ woman, but I know the feeling. We’ve all doubted ourselves or our abilities at some point. The good news is there’s one thing you can do right now to start feeling better.
Reframe: failure isn’t killing you – it’s making you great.
See if you can relate to this person’s story.
A man, let’s call him Sam, dropped out of college after only one semester and quit his job so he could backpack across India. Sam also started a business, only to get kicked out by his partners. (Apparently, he was difficult to work with.) Later on he had the opportunity to rejoin the business he was kicked out of – but only when (and perhaps because) it was failing.
There are lot of people who would look at Sam and think, “What a loser.”
Sam was different from most people. He did things his own way – even when it didn’t make sense to others. Sam also tried and failed, a lot more than once. He could have given up and bought into the myth that he was just “bad at life,” but he didn’t.
Sam’s real name was Steve Jobs, creator of Apple. Behind every story of incredible success exists several stories of failure. Every human fails – it’s not unique or special. In fact, the difference between greatness and mediocrity isn’t failure or success.
The difference is the ability to learn from your decisions and actions with a sense of spirit and adventure. That’s how you grow and refine so you improve over time, because success isn’t built in a day.
The problem happens when you:
- mentally obsess over things you cannot change
- attach failure to your worth/value as a human.
The fact you’re even considering your path isn’t how you want, is a good step in the direction of self-reflection. Next, reframe how you think about your experience so it’s productive and helpful. Coming down hard, criticizing or judging yourself will only waste energy and stop you from getting the benefits of your experience.
Without specifics of your situation, I wonder:
- How do you know you’re not doing well at your job?
- Is that really true and what can you think of that might disprove that statement?
It’s easy to think our situation is worse than it really is, but let’s assume your assessment is accurate.
Here are some questions to help you start reframing your position.
- What have you learned on this path?
- Have you learned 100 ways NOT to do your job, so you can find 10 exceedingly great ways?
- How’s the industry or company environment – what is and isn’t to your liking? What might be better suited to your preferences?
- How do you like your career choice? Does it benefit from your natural personality and talents?
- Sometimes the career choice is good, but the company culture is dissatisfying. How could you change the culture at your place of work? What are your options for moving to another company?
Sometimes we think the problem is the company culture, and though unpleasant, the deeper problem is that our spirit is drawn in a another direction.
The big question is, what do you want and will you take the steps required to get you there?