One of my good friends and regular commenters, DC from Young Adult Money, mentioned that the fear of failure is something that many millennials really struggle with because they were taught to not fail. It really struck a chord with me because it’s true. Our lives are so public these days, thanks to our love of selfies and over-sharing tendencies. Everything we do or accomplish, good or bad, is readily available for public consumption.
Our fear of failure already terrified us, and now, with the advent of social media, our fear around it has doubled since it may no longer be a private event. This is the world that our young adults and children will only know, which makes it even harder to break free from the stranglehold of fear. Many will opt to do nothing, rather than potentially humiliate themselves.
Of course, there is a price to pay for that mindset too. We miss out on potentially huge opportunities and wins. Things that could lead us to finding our passions, connecting with like-minded people and living our ideal life.
I don’t want fear or failure, whether it’s money related or not, to hold my girls back from trying and suspect you feel the same way about your kids. First and foremost, we need to lead by example and conquer our own fear of failure. Now we’re in a position to help our kids build a healthy response to failure.
I know that sounds odd, but the only way to avoid failure is to not attempt anything that matters to us. And that does not sound like a happy or rewarding life to me. So I’d rather teach my girls how to respond to failures, rather than cross my fingers and hope they never experience it. I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist too.
Shine a True Light on Our Fear of Failure
Fear of failure is a bit of a bugaboo. We don’t like talking about it, which just makes it harder to gain control over our emotions. But you can put yourself back in control with these 3 steps.
Redefine What Failure Is
Kids are surrounded by success stories these days. They go onto their various social media accounts and see their friends bragging (and sometimes grossly exaggerating) their accomplishments. Now I’m not saying people shouldn’t be proud of their achievements, they absolutely should be, but we need to remember that people sometimes forget to mention all the hard work (and failures) leading up to their victory too.
I wanted to share this quote by Thomas Edison again because it really can help change your perspective on failure. Thomas Edison didn’t try once and give up, but he tried over and over until he did it.
To-Do: Have a conversation with your kids about failure and understand how they view it. If needed, help them redefine what failure truly is. It is not the worst thing ever. But an attempt that didn’t work. The good news is you can keep trying and now know one way (or 10,000 ways) that didn’t work.
Fear and Failure Are Normal Emotions
We like to pretend fear and failure don’t exist or that there is something wrong with feeling those emotions. That is not true. In fact, sometimes fear can be a very good thing. So make sure your children understand that those emotions are normal and everyone feels them.
They Don’t Define You Unless You Let Them
Right or wrong, labels matter when you’re a kid and no one wants the label of being a failure. This goes back to redefining what a failure truly is and adjusting your perspective. To truly understand that your so-called “failures” don’t define you. It is your response to your perceived failures that do. Make sure your kids know the difference.
Acknowledging Fears Helps Lessen Their Power
Often times we suffer in silence when it comes to our fears. We don’t want to open ourselves to ridicule or we were taught that having fears made us weak. Again, that’s not true. Everyone has fears. What I have found is that when I say out loud “I’m afraid of failing because of … ” it feels as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
Fear actually loses power when exposed. You discover your fears aren’t so big or scary as they felt when you kept them locked inside you. You now feel more comfortable confronting them and find resources to help you overcome your fears.
To-Do: Be open to your kids about your fears and how you overcame them. Demonstrate “I am afraid of failing …” so they learn to shine a light on fears, rather then keeping them hidden where they can grow to the point where they stop trying.
Recognize and Believe in Ourselves
Fear robs us of our confidence. We don’t believe we are worthy of our goals and/or have the skills to obtain what we want. The best defense against fear is faith and to laugh off mistakes. Faith in your abilities to achieve what you want, even if it doesn’t happen immediately, you don’t lose faith in yourself or your goals.
It’s also important to helps kids see the big picture. As much as it may hurt in the moment and feel like a big deal, it’s one small moment in a lifetime of moments. A big picture perspective can help kids laugh off failures while helping finding the courage to try again.
To-Do: If your children doubt their abilities to accomplish a goal, have them list out all the reasons why they will succeed. If they uncover that they truly lack a needed skill, now they can either learn the skill or seek help from someone who already has it.
The Fear and Money Connection
Why does our fear matter so much? Because fear will drive our money decisions. Remember, money is emotional. I’ve seen people make fear-based money decisions, and sometimes, they don’t even realize it. But because fear has such a strong hold on them they cannot enjoy their money. Note: It’s important to understand that our fear is not always readily noticeable to ourselves or even others at first blush.
The one thing almost everyone tells me they want to find is their money happiness. And when fear directs your money decisions, it is very difficult to find the joy in how you use your money. Start talking to your kids about fear and the fear of failure now, so by the time they leave home, they know what to do when fear and failure tempt them to give up on their dreams and goals.
Have your kids expressed any concerns about achieving goals or let fear prevent them from trying? How are you helping them overcome fear?
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