Conquering the Fear of Failure: A Guide for Women in Business

High Angle Photo of Woman Looking Upset in Front of Silver Laptop
Photo by Yan Krukau

Are you held back through a fear of failure?

Does your own fear of failure hold you back from achieving your goals or going for it in your business?

If yes, please know that you can move past it. It's not always easy, but taking the time to work through the underlying causes of these feelings is key to building your confidence.

As an experienced counsellor and specialist mental health mentor, I have a unique insight into how this fear of failure can impact day to day life and hold you back from achieving the goals that you know you are capable of achieving.

Alongside being a therapist, I've lived with fluctuating confidence and mental health struggles, so I do understand some of what you may be feeling on a personal level as well.

Let's explore why this can lead to a freeze response, when progress feels impossible and some of the things you could do to move through the blocks.

*Affiliate Disclosure: Some links in this post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something via the link, I may receive a small commission. This doesn't affect the price you pay.

If you have any questions, reach out for a chat [email protected] or check out my other blogs

What is Fear of Failure?

Fear of failure is something experienced by many of us, especially if you lack confidence or self belief. There are several things that can contribute to feeling this way, including low confidence, lack of knowledge, fear of judgement and perfectionism.

What Causes The Feelings of Fear?

Some of the common factors that contribute to a fear of failure include:

Self Doubt – When you don't believe in yourself, it's more likely that you won't feel good enough in both what you do, or who you are as a person. Low confidence can become a huge block when wanting to challenge yourself or try something new.

Perfectionism – Perfectionism can be a huge issue for those who experience self doubt, or who are working towards challenging goals. Linked with fear of judgement or getting it wrong, it can cause you to freeze – becoming unable to do what's needed to move forward.

Prior Experiences – As someone who went to school in England in the 1980's, ritual humiliation was a thing in the classroom… It's left a lot of scars on people when it comes to making mistakes and wanting to avoid being ridiculed at all costs. If you've ever tried to do something, but it went wrong, or you were judged negatively because of it, the fear of failure can be quite strong.

Expectations – Increased pressure from others can also contribute to the fear of failure. If pressure is heaped upon you to get something done, and to do it well, it can lead to fear paralysis. This is where nothing will feel good enough, leading to increased stress levels and a total block to work.

Overthinking – Linking back to low confidence and self doubt, overthinkers may focus so much on what could potentially go wrong, that the fear of failure or looking stupid in front of others develops into those repetitive “what if” thoughts, and can easily become stubbornly ingrained.

The Impact Fear of Failure Can Have

Fear of failure can have significant impact on a person's life. For example, if you didn't believe that you could land that job, or build a successful business, you may just not bother trying. Even if you're more than capable to do the work, the fear becomes the dominant decider.

Fear of failure may result in a person not putting themselves forward for things like promotion within their job. Imposter syndrome is a term used a lot nowadays, and it can be very real for many of us.

For those of you who have dreams to run your own business, this fear of failure may prevent you from even considering it as a valid option, choosing to not bother trying.

That inner turmoil and dread of what might be is enough of a mental block to convince you to stay safe and stick to what you already know or do.

In business, this may look like:

  • Not starting at all.
  • Not allowing yourself to dream big.
  • Struggling with decision making & wasting time on background tasks.
  • Doubting yourself and your right to do what you're doing. (Imposter syndrome).
  • Holding yourself back with marketing.
  • Not wanting to be visible online.
  • Putting off selling services.
  • Shiny-Object Syndrome: looking for the golden answer from other coaches.
  • Staying safe – not aiming to scale.
  • Not reaching out for collaborations.
  • Comparison with others in the online space.

Strategies to Overcome Fear of Failure

There are a few different things you can do to work through your fear of failure. In my professional capacity, I encourage clients to work through the underlying, core issues that are driving these thoughts, feelings and fears.

Alongside this, there are some practical steps that you can also take:

Nurture a Growth Mindset

This may seem a little vague or an overused concept in the coaching and self-help world, but it simply means learning to approach things in a supportive and open frame of mind.

For example, learning to give yourself grace to acknowledge these fears without judgement, and finding a way to move forward despite the worries. Developing an understanding that your value and worth as a person is not a reflection of your business success or career status.

A growth mindset is also about learning how to challenge those negative thoughts and beliefs that are contributing to your fear of failure. Too often we take ourselves far too seriously, and when I recognise this in myself I head to my journal to work out what's really going on.

Realistic Goal Setting

On a practical level, setting realistic goals is an essential part of both conquering the fear of failure and enabling you to make good progress. It helps to prevent overwhelm and the added anxiety that decision fatigue and uncertainty can bring.

If you set yourself goals that are totally unrealistic – whether it's related to time frame or your own current abilities and experience – you're simply going to make yourself feel unnecessary extra pressure and foster a mindset of worry rather than calm.

Remove your focus from the big scary end goal to beat overwhelm. Visualise yourself at the bottom of a huge mountain that you need to climb. Rather than focusing on how far it is, and how much effort it will take to get to the top, focus instead on the next step, then one after and so on.

Similarly in life, if you have a dream / goal of running a hugely successful planner company, where you are right now it may feel impossible. With these big feelings comes uncertainty and self doubt. The “what if's” just increase that fear of failure, and may prevent you from even trying.

When the goals you set are attainable and especially in the beginning, relatively easy wins, your confidence will naturally increase as you can obviously recognise your achievements.

Reframe Mistakes to Lessons

For some, the worry of making mistakes is beyond imaginable. For some of the clients I've supported in therapy over the years, this one fear impacts their everyday life. From worrying about choosing the wrong cereal for breakfast, to the intense fear of failure in front of others.

Judgement by others is often what drives the fear, and it can be extremely difficult to lessen the hold it can have.

If this is something you're relating to, my advice is to work though the triggers causing these feelings – whether with a therapist or coach, or using some self help techniques like journaling or therapy worksheets.

Once you're aware you can change it! Plus, it's good to remember that we learn best through the mistakes we make. Discovering that something doesn't work doesn't mean you're wrong or not good enough, it just means that it's not right for what you're doing.

Instead of judging yourself, look at what changes you can make to improve it next time. Personally, I love to pivot and it's something I always encourage others to do.

And always remember – mistakes do not reflect your value as a person.

Celebrate All Achievements

Think back to infant and primary school and the sheer joy and excitement of receiving one of those glossy, shiny stickers for good work or behaviour.

That sense of pride that made you feel a foot taller (Massive when you're a shorty like me!). We need to do that more as adults.

When you make a point of acknowledging and then celebrating all of your wing and achievements, that fear of failure slowly begins to lose its hold on you.

As you celebrate your achievements it gives you both a confidence boost and helps to build a positive mindset, increasing your motivation.

Self-Compassion

Self compassion means that instead of judging yourself harshly on things that you believe you've done wrong, or weren't good enough, you show yourself grace and kindness.

If you're at the very beginning of your project, make sure that you're not comparing yourself with others who are more experienced, or further along in their career or business.

Ensure that your expectations are high, but not so high that they're unrealistic. By setting yourself up to succeed instead of fail, you'll increase your confidence and belief in yourself.

Take the time to look after yourself so that you're not constantly in work mode. Prioritise self care like you do your work so that you can maintain your energy and focus. Creating a good balance between work and life will help you to navigate any issues or setbacks along the way.

I talk more about this in the blog below:

You can use tools like journaling to challenge unhelpful thinking patterns, and support yourself with a more compassionate attitude so that your fear of failure no longer holds you back.

Tools Resources & Support

Each post I add my favourite tools and resources, so here are some more just for you!

Sunsama – A brilliant task management that is perfect for busy and neurodiverse minds who easily find themselves overwhelmed and distracted. grab a free 2 week trial and free month!

Thought-Shifting Mini Journal – CBT-Based Thought Shifting Activities + mini journal with prompts

Canva Pro – Upgrade your content design with Canva Pro. Explore the enhanced features available in Pro. Grab your free trial here.

Etsy – Are you ready to create your own online store? Etsy is a brilliant shopping platform that's used by millions. Setting up your store is simple, and when you sign up with this link we both get 40 free listings!

Pinterest Guide – If you're looking to get into Pinterest, I highly recommend Amy's free guide and Pinterest course. It's up-to-date for 2024 & she also has a brilliant course for only $67 that's updated frequently.

Task Batching – I created this task batching / brain dump workbook to help you get to grips with batching tasks. You can also read the post here for further info!

Final Thoughts

Fear of failure is something that so many of us experience and battle on a daily basis. It can have a huge impact on your progress in both life and business because of the strongest urge to step back and stay safe.

For some, this feeling will be enough to stop them from taking the steps needed, despite being more than capable of doing it.

In my own experience, the best way I can push through the fear of failure is by firstly becoming aware and acknowledging that it's happening. It's not always obvious – especially if you have a tonne of very good reasons to keep those mind monkeys calm!

For me, this may include being busy in the background and not being visible online or promoting my services. Once I'm aware this is what I'm doing, I show myself some compassion and work through the belief blocks.

I hope you found this post useful, fear of failure can be very strong, so be kind to yourself if this is what you're experiencing at the moment.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences around the fear of failure, and how you've been able to push through the limiting beliefs.

If this post helped or you enjoyed reading it, please share one of the images below as it really helps my blog – Thank You!

Woman in meditating pose at desk. Text reads "Does Fear of Failure Hold You Back? Reframe Your Thoughts & Increase Confidence"
Woman sat at desk looking concerned. Text reads "Boost Confidence as a Woman in Business"
Woman sat with hands to face looking pensive. Text reads "Fear of Failure: Improve Your Mindset With These Simple Tips"

Meet Lynsey

Lynsey Wall, Coach & Mentor at Coach Writes. About me - A headshot of Lynsey smiling. Wearing a black t-shirt, blue framed glasses. Office walls behind her.

Hey there! I'm Lynsey, a coach, counsellor, and mentor for low energy, introverted or low confident female coaches & small business owners. With over 5 years’ experience of running businesses, and over a decade as a tutor and trainer, I've learned the value of effective time management that energises you through working with your energy.

I've lived with chronic illness – ME/CFS since 2011 and since then I re-trained as a counsellor, and achieved a distinction for my MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice; all while running 4 businesses! I want that for you as well & it is possible with the right support and pathway to success.

Improving your mindset, finding acceptance and developing a solution-focused approach to achieving your goals is my passion. Blending mental health support where needed, as well as a supportive space and methods to manage your work more effectively.

If you'd like to know more about working with me, you can email [email protected] or find me on socials (links in the menu)

Have you seen my online store Shop.QuietlyConquer? Find DFY templates, downloads & more!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *