How to overcome the fear of not achieving goals
We all fear not achieving goals at some point. Some of us experience this feeling from time to time when the challenge seems too big. Others have to deal with this fear more frequently.
Finding ways to overcome this fear is essential whenever you get anxious about your goals. This will allow you to continue moving forward and finally achieve your goals.
Although having some negative beliefs is normal, they can become problematic if they stop you from setting goals and stepping out of your comfort zone.
In this blog post, I will discuss 11 effective ways to deal with the fear of not achieving goals and how you can break self-sabotage cycles.
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Create an action plan
The first step you should be following if you are afraid of not reaching your goals is to write a clear action plan.
Detailing specific steps you need to take to achieve your goal will bring clarity.
When it comes to setting goals, lack of clarity usually makes things seem much harder than they really are, which increases the fear of failure.
Having a detailed plan will also help you ensure your goals are achievable and increase your self-confidence.
Your plan should include:
- Your SMART goal(s)
- A clear deadline
- Your action steps to achieve your goals
- The methodology you plan to use to track your progress
You could add a trillion other things to your plan but just don’t.
If you are often afraid to fail at your goals, you should avoid overplanning them.
Instead, just get started.
When we are afraid of something new, we tend to overthink it. Overplanning is a natural way to control the situation and feel more prepared.
We think that planning every detail will decrease anxiety and limit the risks of failure. The issue is that overplanning can become a form of procrastination for people who tend to overthink.
You are too afraid to get things done, so you plan every detail because you think it will give you greater chances of being successful. But this is actually not how it works.
Action brings clarity. You can be the best at planning. But if you don’t get things done, you will still fail.
Planning is a good thing; you need a clear plan to take action and reach success. It only becomes a problem when you end up overplanning and don’t do anything else.
Don’t spend too much time writing your plan. Focus on the main points of it and start getting things done.
You will have plenty of time to adapt your plan during your journey.
Related reads: How To Set Goals You Will Achieve
Break down your goals in bite-size steps
Break down your goal into bite-size chunks so that you can focus on one thing at a time.
This simple trick will make any goal sound much more achievable.
It can be tough to get motivated and stay focused to achieve a goal when the deadline seems too far away.
Decomposing your goals into smaller steps with short deadlines will boost your confidence and help you focus on the present.
An easy way to increase your motivation is to define weekly steps supporting your goals and take small daily actions to reach them.
Set a short deadline for each step, and celebrate when you reach it. It will be much easier to stay focused and motivated when you see progress every week.
This will also help you reassess your plans quickly if you fail to achieve one goal.
Failure is part of life. You won’t be successful all the time. Yet, you can decide how you react to failure and the lessons you learn from it.
Don’t dwell on past failures. Learn from them, adapt your plans accordingly and move on.
Related reads: 11 mistakes to avoid when setting goals
Remember why you started
Another way to cope with the fear of failure is to remember why you started.
You set these goals for a reason.
Remembering why you set these goals in the first place is a great way to boost your motivation and overcome the fear of failure.
A simple way to implement this tip is to create a vision board and keep it somewhere you will see it every day.
You can set it as your wallpaper on your phone and laptop, hang it on the wall in your office or even create boards on Pinterest.
Represent the person you will be after achieving your goals and picture your ideal life.
Defining the impacts reaching your goals will have on your life is usually a great way to stay motivated.
Have a look at this board regularly during the day. It will help you keep your goals in mind.
Take action towards your goal every day
You need to take action toward your goals every day, no matter how small these actions are. Doing so will help you in many aspects.
First, working on your daily goals will help you reach them faster.
But it will also help you build habits that will support your success.
We often say that habits take 21 days to be formed. But it is actually not true.
If your goal is to be fit and you exercise 2 times in 21 days, as you can imagine, working out will not be a habit yet.
The number of times you practice the action matters the most when creating habits. This is why doing something that supports your goals every day is so powerful.
Another reason you should work on your goals every day is that it will help you overcome limiting beliefs.
If you make progress every day, you will feel more capable of reaching your goals. You are proving to yourself you can be successful day after day.
This feeling will be so rewarding. It will help you keep going no matter what.
Secret Tip :
One of the easiest ways to achieve your goals fast is to add activities that support your goals to your daily routines. Daily routines are powerful ways to implement habits rapidly. Starting the day with goal-driven habits will boost your chances of success.
Read more about the power of routines
Imagine the worst-case scenario
Now, this tip might seem counterproductive at first, but give me a few lines to show you why imagining the worst-case scenario will help you increase your confidence.
We often overestimate the risks and underestimate our abilities when it comes to fear.
This is why you should always imagine what your worst-case scenario is, no matter your goals.
What will actually happen if you fail?
Visualize the consequences of a potential failure.
Will your life be over? Will you lose everything? Or will you get fired? Probably not.
Many people tend to exacerbate the consequences of their failures. This is what makes the fear of failure so hard to overcome.
Truth is, in most cases, the worst thing that can happen if you fail is that nothing will change.
If you fail to lose weight, you will maintain the same weight. If you fail to get a promotion, you will keep the same job. If you fail to learn how to play the piano, well, you will not be able to play the piano.
In most cases, not reaching your goals will not result in losing anything. Things will simply stay as they are.
Why wouldn’t you risk failing when the worst-case scenario is a status quo?
And even if there are greater consequences if you fail, why wouldn’t you give it a try anyway?
The goals you have set for yourself are intended to improve some aspect of your life.
And you have set these goals because you are probably not satisfied with that part of your life.
Waking up every day to a life that is not satisfying is hard. Failing at a goal is hard.
You already know how to deal with a life that doesn’t satisfy you. The proof is in the pudding; you are here reading this.
If you fail, you will know how to deal with it too. You will find ways to heal as you always do.
Find a mentor who has achieved a similar goal
One of the best ways to overcome the fear of not achieving your goals is to find someone who has already achieved what you want.
A mentor can help you see what’s possible and give you guidance and support to make your goals a reality.
When you know somebody who’s been there and done that, it’s much easier to believe that you can do it too.
If you’re feeling stuck or doubtful about your ability to reach your goals, seek a mentor who can help you get back on track. With the proper support, anything is possible!
Just keep in mind that we all have different journeys, and just because they managed to achieve their goals in 3, 6, or 12 months doesn’t mean you will progress at the same pace.
Learning from other people’s experiences is a fantastic way to progress and sharpen your own vision of life.
But you need to keep in mind that we all have different journeys. Be inspired by others but don’t forget to write your own story.
Focus on positive thinking
Focusing on the positive side of things is another effective way to cope with the fear of failing.
Instead of thinking about everything that can go wrong, focus on your success’s positive impacts.
Imagine your life once you have achieved your goals. Imagine how happy you will be once your hard work finally pays out.
Giving more attention to positive feelings will also boost your mental health.
If you struggle to see the good side of things, try to practice gratitude every day.
Being more grateful will help you be a more positive person. Identify all the things you are thankful for and all the great things you have already accomplished.
You were good enough to achieve them, and you will be good enough to reach the new goals you set for yourself.
If you have to deal with the fear of failure regularly, you might also want to consider journaling.
Journaling a few minutes daily will help you get your insecurities out of your head to make room for more positive self-talk.
Adapt your environment
When you’re constantly worried about failing, it’s easy to become paralyzed and never take action.
Another way to overcome this fear is to adapt your environment to support your goals. It will help you achieve your goals with more ease.
For example, remove all cigarettes and ashtrays from your home if you’re trying to quit smoking.
If you’re trying to eat healthier, stock your fridge with healthy food options.
If you are trying to stop playing video games, unplug your console after using it and keep it in a closed closet.
Making these changes will help you take the first step toward achieving your goals.
Taking action toward your goals is the best thing you can do to mute the negative self-talk in your head and overcome the fear of not achieving goals.
After all, sticking to a new habit is much easier when you’re not constantly surrounded by temptation.
So take a look at your environment and make changes to set yourself up for success.
Track your progress
Tracking your progress is one of the best things you can do to improve your self-confidence.
It allows you to give yourself credit for everything you have already achieved. It will also make you realize how far you have come already.
You will see that you get closer to your goals every day by tracking your progress.
This will help ease the fear of not achieving your goals because you can see that you are already making progress and getting closer to the finish line.
This exercise is also an opportunity to identify things you can improve or do differently to increase your chances of success.
If you struggle to achieve a goal, don’t be afraid to do things differently. See lack of progress as a lesson and learn from it.
Sometimes when you feel you are not making enough progress, changing something you do daily is enough to get unstuck.
Be Aware of the fear of success
Most people fail to achieve their goals because of a lack of planning or the fear of failure.
But did you know that the fear of success is actually a thing?
And that it is a form of self-sabotage, just like the fear of failure?
It is also often referred to as “success anxiety” and implies overthinking the consequences success will have on your life in general.
If you fear being successful, you are afraid that achieving your goals might negatively impact other areas of your life.
The fear of success can manifest itself in many different ways :
- Procrastination and letting great opportunities pass
- Setting the bar too low with goals that will have little to no impact on your life
- Finding excuses to quit, although you are on your way to success
- Refusing to change things because you are afraid you will miss your old life
Chances are that, as over 80% of my readers, you are a woman.
If that’s the case, you are likely to develop a fear of success when trying to achieve important goals, especially in your career and finances.
This phenomenon is called backlash avoidance and implies that, in many cultures, traditional gender roles can negatively impact the perception of success.
In other words, you have developed a fear of success because the goals you are trying to achieve are not well-accepted for a woman in the society you live in.
Unfortunately, having a successful career is a great example of backlash avoidance.
In all cultures, a man with a great career will be considered successful.
Yet, in some parts of the world, women achieving the same will be considered aggressive, unlikeable, and bad mothers.
Yes, this type of thinking still exists in 2022.
And you must be aware of it to ensure these limiting beliefs never stop you from achieving success.
We need to create a better world for our (future) daughters. And it all starts by owning our successes as women.
Be Kind to Yourself
it’s okay to make mistakes and sometimes fail.
You’re human. And you will fail sometimes.
When you do fail, don’t dwell on it too much. Instead, learn from your mistakes, figure out how you can do things differently, and set new goals if needed.
The most important thing is to never give up on yourself.
You can achieve anything you set your mind to. Just believe in yourself, be patient, and have faith in the process.
You have to be kind to yourself and consider your feelings. If you feel like things are getting overwhelming, take a break.
It might be a few minutes, hours, or even days.
Just because you have to hit “pause” doesn’t mean you will not make it to your goals.
The important part is to learn how to process your negative feelings, learn from them and overcome them to achieve success.
Sometimes all you need is to take a deep breath.
If you have read a few of my posts, you already know how much I used to struggle with anxiety and how meditating daily has set me up for success.
Here is a short video from Headspace that will help you be more grounded and focused.
If you fear not achieving goals, try out one or more of these tips and see if it makes a difference in how you feel.
Remember, you are the only one who can control your thoughts and actions, so decide to take charge and achieve success!
Dealing with the fear of not achieving our goals can be difficult, but it’s important to find ways to overcome this fear to continue moving forward.
We can all find success by staying focused, implementing daily habits to support our goals, and learning from our mistakes.