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Fear of Failure

Updated: Jun 15, 2021


Dreams and athletes go hand in hand. Some of us have had a sporting dream to play at the highest level for as long as we can remember. Others have developed different goals across their careers which they hope to tick off before they retire. There are many reasons as to why we all play sports. But those who have dreams, often play for more than just a bit of fun on the weekend.

Our dreams, no matter how big or small, are what drive us to continue to put in the work, train harder and make sacrifices. Some athletes have bigger dreams than others. Many athletes don’t express what their dreams are and when we do, people are often quick to tell us why we won’t achieve them. However, sometimes our own dreams can be the very thing that can hold us back. We look too much at the outcome, which can often seem so far away rather than breaking it down into manageable pieces. We can be so afraid of failing because our dreams seem so big, that it stops us from trying to reach them all together.

The fear of failure stops people from taking actions that could lead them to having hugely successful careers. How many people do you know who look back on their sporting career and say things like ‘I could have been anything, if only I had….’ or those people who blame all these outside factors as the reason as to why they never made it. In order to become as successful as you dream of becoming, you need to take control of your own career and put your destiny into your own hands. Learn to enjoy the process and love the journey.

So many of us put restrictions on what we think we are capable of. You come up with 20 different reasons as to why you could never achieve something before you come up with one reason as to why you can achieve it. Like a lot of us, maybe you’ve been told that some of your dreams are crazy and you couldn’t possibly ever achieve them. Nike came out with a fantastic video that says ‘Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough!’

There is a great quote from Henry Ford that states ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right.’ What this is saying is that you will likely never achieve something, if you do not believe you can do it. Many people would prefer not to put themselves out there and try to achieve the things they have dreamed about for so long, out of the fear of what happens if they don’t succeed. To me, not even giving yourself a chance to that’s crazy!


I once heard someone say something along the lines of Rafael Nadal beats 90% of his opponents before he even steps onto the court. What this is referring to is that the majority of people that he plays have lost before the match even starts because they don’t believe that they can beat him.

So many athletes don’t even show up at the start line to give themselves a chance of success. You can’t win a race if you don’t even start. They’re not willing to take the plunge and give themselves the chance of showing themselves and everyone else just how good they can be. You self worth should not be determined by whether or not you achieve your goals

Below are some strategies to help deal with fear of failure and change your mindset:

  • Start to look for the opportunities in everything -> there is always an opportunity to be found in any situation, even when you least expect it.

  • Focus on what could go right rather than what could go wrong -> start to think about how much more you have to gain and not look at what you have to lose.

  • Practice visualising your dreams and goals -> using exercises such as meditation, has shown to have a huge improvement on peoples likelihood of achieving success.

  • Tell someone your goals -> this is a great way to keep yourself accountable as now you have someone else who knows what you’re trying to achieve.

  • Celebrate the little wins along the way and enjoy the journey -> take time to celebrate milestones along the journey to reaching your goals. You can’t achieve a dream overnight, it takes time and effort, so don’t forget to reward yourself for what you have done up to this point.

  • Break the dream down into smaller pieces -> A big goal can seem so far away and often impossible to achieve. By breaking it down, you allow yourself to gain momentum and tick off the small steps along the way.


Ben Haren

NEXA Performance Coach

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