Fear of Failure

I originally started this blog with the idea of sharing my failures – because failing is how we learn. Everyone thinks that you learn from success – and you do. But the lessons you learn from failing are often more valuable – you remember them better (and probably longer), and you remember to do things differently the next time. I wonder if we would all be so afraid of failure if we embraced it rather than seeing it as something shameful. What things could you accomplish if you weren’t afraid of failing?

As I get older, my fear of failure is often outweighed by my sense of mortality. If I don’t do it now, then when? The number of tomorrows is always decreasing. That’s not to say that my fear of failure has disappeared, however.

In fact, it’s something I struggle with often, especially as I try to grow other sources of income in addition to my day job. But I read something the other day that really resonated with me. Nimue Brown and her Druid Life blog is something I’ve followed for a while, and I love her writing because she always makes me think.

Her latest post, ‘Taking it personally,’ struck a chord with me. I lived with an abuser for many years and even now, a decade later, I see things I couldn’t when I was stuck in the situation. When you live with an abuser, you learn to walk on eggshells, and every small remark isn’t just a criticism, it’s a signal that worse things are coming, unless you do something to head it off. You try to anticipate everything (you can’t) and make everything perfect (again, you can’t).

So even though most criticism isn’t harmful and is well-meant, after living through abuse, your reaction is different, and may seem like over-reacting to most people. It’s something I’d never really thought about before, but in looking back at that period of my life, it’s like a light bulb went off. It explains so much – about my behavior and the behavior of those around me. I was hyper-vigilant about criticism because I had to be, but I didn’t allow people to see that part of my life, so most of them thought I was just a drama queen.

After thinking about it for a couple of days, I realized that my fear of failure is tied to the abuse I suffered. Not all, but a large chunk. Previously, failure could have devastating consequences, not just for me, but for those I loved most as well. So even though I am no longer in that situation, my brain has been conditioned to respond to failure in a certain way and to avoid it as much as possible. And unlearning that behavior is extremely difficult – impossible, if you’re not even aware of it, as I wasn’t.

As I continue on my journey, I am going to try and be a little kinder to myself when that fear of failure creeps up on me. It’s not just me being lazy or unmotivated, though that happens as well. And knowing the enemy is half the battle, right? So next time, I can recognize that conditioning and work through it, rather than beating myself up because I’m not making the progress I want.

Facing My Fears

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Credit: Pixabay

It’s a strange time in the world right now.  However, it’s reminded me of something I forgot – your time on this earth is limited.  And no matter how much money you have, how many things you own – you can’t take it with you. I learned that lesson the hard way 10 years ago.

Since then, my focus has been on family and experiences.  Family and precious memories will keep you warmer and happier than any amounts of wealth ever will.  That’s not to say that money isn’t important – of course it is.  We all have physical needs – food, shelter, clothing.  But no amount of money can give you a hug when you’re feeling down, or make you laugh when you feel like crying.

Right now, we’re finding out just how much we as humans need that social interaction – even those of us who are introverts. 😀  I haven’t seen my sister in over a month – we talk almost every day, but we haven’t seen each other in that amount of time.  It’s crazy.

I’ve had a lot of time to think lately (probably too much), but I realized I lost sight of what is important to me.  We get so caught up in being ‘busy’ that we don’t realize we aren’t really getting anywhere or doing anything important.  We all have dreams and aspirations, but those get put on hold while life gets in the way.

I want to open my own business, but I’ve been letting my own fears hold me back.  What if it fails?  Am I crazy to launch a business in the middle of a global pandemic?  Should I save all our money instead of spending it on something that might not work?  Can I learn how to manage an online store and all the tech that goes along with it?

We want to move to Canada – our original goal was to retire there, but with my husband’s folks getting older, it seems prudent to move sooner rather than later.  That entails figuring out what my children want to do – do they want to move with us? What does that mean for their college education?  Can we all move together?  Will Canada even let us in?

Lots of questions, lots of fears, not a lot of answers.  But you shouldn’t let your fears hold you back from something you really want.  Will it be easy?  Probably not.  Does that mean it won’t be worth it?  Absolutely not.

So I am going to try and push through my own fears.  I’m going to work on getting that position I want at my current job.  I’m going to work on opening my online store.  And I’m going to work on figuring out how we can all move to Canada together.  There may be stepping stones along the way, and obstacles we have to face, but we can do it.

Fighting FOMO

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Credit: Pixabay

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past decade, you’ve probably heard of FOMO.  It’s a psychological quirk of humans that advertisers exploit to get us to buy ALL. THE. THINGS.

I mean, nobody wants to miss out on something cool, right?  Everyone wants the latest, greatest shiny.  How else can you assure yourself and everyone else that you’re cool and successful and beautiful?

I’ve never been one of those people.  Labels don’t matter to me, whether something works for me does.  Maybe it’s a side effect of growing up without much money.  My parents made sure my siblings and I always had what we needed, but there were lots of times when we didn’t get everything we wanted.

And guess what?  We survived.  I mean, sure, those fancy white Nikes with the red swoosh were awesome, but our Payless shoes did the job just as well.  Actually better, because once I could afford those white Nikes with my own money, I discovered the bright white didn’t last long and neither did the shoes.

Someone’s always trying to convince you that you need the latest this, that, or the other.  But I think people would be a lot happier if they would stop and think about what they actually need.  I mean, if you have unlimited funds and can buy whatever you want without worrying about the cost, then sure, avoid FOMO and buy all the things.

Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot of people (or any, really) who are in that situation.  Most of us only have a certain amount of money to spend on wants AND needs.  I want a new car, but I need water and electricity.  I want a new iPad Pro, but I need to pay tuition.  I want to travel to Europe, but I need a roof over my head.

I could let my FOMO rule my spending, but will I be any happier for doing so?  Probably not.  Don’t get me wrong, I certainly can fall victim to FOMO as easily as anyone.  Right now, my weakness is anything to do with planners.

Because I’m working on launching my sticker business, I’ve been trying out different things to see what I like, what works, and what doesn’t work for me.  So I currently have a basket full of stickers and other supplies I’ve purchased sitting around taking up space, because once I got them, I realized I either didn’t like them or they didn’t work for the way I plan.

I know that FOMO is hard to combat, but it can be done.  Honestly, you miss out on stuff every day.  There’s no way for everyone to experience/own everything.  And that’s OK.  Focus on what really matters to you, and forget everything else.