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Is that word scary to you, or exciting? Do you run from a challenge or jump in headfirst? Maybe the idea of a challenge subtly draws you in…but leaves you feeling a little apprehensive as well? How do you overcome fear of failure in order to take on a challenge?
What does the word challenge mean to you?
Personally, I like the Cambridge Dictionary definition:
“something needing great mental
or physical effort in order to be
done successfully, or the situation
of facing this kind of effort.”
A Challenge, and My Fear of Failure
Recently, I learned of an event in the blogging world known as Blogtober, wherein bloggers voluntarily commit to writing and publishing 31 posts during the month of October, a new one each and every day.
I struggle to write one post a week. I am a perfectionist, and I worry about my topic, my wording, my grammar, my spelling, my photos, my links, and so on and so forth on and on and on. To me, a good post is more than a pretty picture and a handful of words, and it takes time to pull together.
So of course, there is no way I would partake in a challenge that would have me producing 31 posts in the same time frame I would normally create five.
Except that I am.
My gut told me “You can do this.”
The Pros and Cons of the Blogtober Challenge
I began evaluating the pros and cons of diving into a challenge that seemed impossible, but I somehow felt drawn to do.
Pro: Apparently you can gain a lot of readers and email list subscribers and get more visibility for your blog by constantly posting.
Con: While growth is always an objective, I love the readers and subscribers I currently have. I don’t want to serve them poorly written posts that I’ve rushed to publish in the name of completing a challenge.
Pro: I do like the fact that creating 31 posts in as many days will push my productivity levels far beyond anything I’ve done in recent years.
Con: I have a “real world” life that I don’t want to give up for a month.
Pro: Participating in Blogtober would let me finish my first year of blogging with a good number of posts, canceling out the fact that I took all of last May and June to focus on other things.
Con: It would be So. Much. Work. And what if I didn’t see big changes in readership, income, or recognition – what if my little blog just stayed a little blog? How would I handle that?
Overcoming Fear of Failure: The Struggle
I evaluated. Tossing and turning and tumbling ideas up and around. I researched other bloggers who have done the Blogtober Challenge in the past to see what they experienced. And I even polled my blogger friends to see if anyone else was doing “Blogtober”. (Most of them are not – there are a couple who are on the fence).
And I decided I definitely was not going to bother. It would be too much work. Why would I do that to myself?
But like a toddler who really wants a cookie, this challenge has tugged at my shirttail. It wouldn’t be silenced. It wouldn’t go away.
For a bunch of good reasons, I was not going to knot myself up in the insanity of Blogtober.
Except that I am.
Yeah, I’m gonna give it a go.
My Personal Goal to Overcome Fear of Failure
Back in the days when I worked in a school, one of the teachers had a poster above the whiteboard in her room. It read:
This is hard.
This is important.
You can do this.
I think about that poster a lot.
Just because something is hard – does that mean that you shouldn’t do it? That it’s not worth trying? That it’s not important?
No. Hard is just…hard.
Where was my reluctance to try really coming from?
I was afraid I might fail.
31 posts in 31 days is a LOT of work. Writing, editing, adding images, documenting, publishing, creating Pinterest pins and Instagram stories and Facebook posts…there is a lot of work that goes into each and every post.
As I said above, I’ve struggled so far to post once a week.
Posting every day is a scary proposition for me.
Fear of Failure is Legitimate
I might fail.
Growing up, I was “the good girl”, the people pleaser, the straight-A student, the helper…failing was just not an option. Failing was bad, wrong, unconscionable – to fail was to be a bad person.
Or so I believed.
I think a lot of girls, particularly in my generation, were raised to believe we shouldn’t try anything that we might not succeed at. We should be safe, we should be comfortable, we shouldn’t try too hard. It was our job to provide support to others (the boys) so that they could go out and try new things and conquer their fear of failure. And we could be there to take cheer them on when they did.
I think I missed out on a lot of great opportunities because I played it safe. I had learned to fear failure too much.
It’s taken me years to understand that failure is…just failure. Actually, it’s where you learn the most important lessons in life. It’s where you grow the most as a person. It’s as much an inevitable part of the human experience as success is, and far more common.
Most importantly, failure is something you can experience, but it’s never something you are. And not something to be feared.
What a tremendous perspective shift.
Before – I can’t try, because I might fail, and then I will be a failure.
Now – I can try anything, and regardless of the outcome, it’s worth the experience.
Overcome Fear of Failure: Do The Hard Thing Anyway
And that is why, as intimidated by this Blogtober challenge as I really, truly am – I’m going to do it anyway.
Because I might fail.
But then, I’ll have learned a lot about myself, my productivity levels, my motivations, my commitment.
More importantly, I might succeed.
I might crush this challenge.
It’s altogether possible that I will create 31 amazing new posts for my readers, giving them great content, helpful advice, and worthwhile information that they can apply to their own lives. And that’s my real goal.
I’m going to crush this challenge.
It’s ok if it’s hard. It’s okay if it’s intimidating and overwhelming. And it’s ok if you don’t know how to do something.
Do the hard thing anyway.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
What’s the best that can happen?
- How to Predict Your Future From Your Daily Routines
- The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started
- How to Regain Motivation When It Disappears
- Friday Favorites: Inspirational Stories From Across the Globe During a Time of Crisis
Final Thoughts on Overcoming Fear of Failure
So I ask you now – when’s the last time YOU did something hard? Was it important? Did you do it or did you fail? Either way – was it worth it?
Would you do it again?