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How We Fail Before We Even Get Started

Have you ever attempted something new and failed? Most people have. Most people try something again and again and fail over and over. Others fail before they even really start a new project, job, or endeavor, simply because they don’t even make an attempt to succeed. Failure can be a scary thing. We’re taught from a young age, in schools, that failure is bad.

And while failing a few classes can derail your scholastic career, failure is an integral part of the rest of our lives. We carry over the stigma of failing in school to other failures, and that fear is enough to keep most of us from trying when we get the initial impulse to do something. We fail before we even really get the chance to fail. But why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we allow ourselves these limiting beliefs about our own abilities?

Outside Influences

In some instances, the negative voices that tell us we are going to fail come from outside, usually under the guise of concern. “Are you sure you want to do that?” your mother might ask at the dinner table when you tell her you want to start your own company. “Do you even know how to do that?” your best friend asks when you discuss the tech startup you want to launch.

These individuals are obviously concerned about you. They want you to succeed but the way that they articulate it makes it sound like you are not qualified or capable of achieving your goal. In these instances, you have to look to circumstances in which you’ve succeeded and draw on those feelings of capability and success.

Inside Influences

We are often much harder on ourselves than other people are on us. Your family and friend group may be very supportive and willing to help you with whatever you need in your new endeavor, but you talk yourself out of it, citing financial difficulties, perceived inabilities, or other negative and usually untrue characteristics that would make achieving your goal impossible. These are negative triggers, and they limit you—they make you fail before you have the chance to actually fail.

The good news is that you can build yourself a new trigger statement. When you tell yourself, “I’m not smart enough to do this,” you learn to immediately remind yourself of a time in which you demonstrated great intelligence or clarity of mind.