How to Overcome Fear of Failure as a Creative
When I started my blog I also started a podcast...well, sort of. I actually never did anything with the podcast. I recorded ten episodes and they were pretty good. But I realized that I hated editing it and it took forever for me to get it at the level I wanted it to be at before putting it out into the word.
So I never did.
Some might categorize this as a failure. What surprised me the most was that I told a bunch of people I was podcasting and then when I didn't no one asked me about it. Psychologists call this the "spotlight effect."
We think everyone notices all the details about us, when in reality, they don't care. As a creative, I think it's freeing. We should also stop looking at ourselves like we have a spotlight on us, because we don't...
Here's how to overcome your fear of failure as a creative:
The most important shift I made in my creative career was this; I simply refuse to believe that failure even exists. Even my greatest "failures" have turned out to be great learning experiences. My "podcast" taught me how to organize my thoughts in a new way, try a new form of content, and learn it wasn't my cup of tea. I'm a great podcast guest because I spent hours learning how to edit a podcast.
Ryan Holiday writes a lot about failure and talks about how it's difficult to fail completely. He wrote, "Failure shows us the way–by showing us what isn't the way."
Failure is the true enemy of progress. No one expects to get married after a first date, but we somehow think in our creative lives we can just try once and it should be successful in that first attempt.
Start seeing failure for what it is; progress, direction, and action towards your bigger goals.
Set Better Goals
My husband is a financial advisor and he lives in a world where depending on a numerical goal of new assets, we go on free vacations known as "incentive trips." I love going on these trips, but I think the "incentive" is actually a poor choice.
The numerical incentive is a terrible goal. If all these advisors hit this random number, they get a free vacation. But what about the advisors who put in more hours of work?
We set bad goals as creatives all the time:
I want to have a book out by the end of the year.
I will have 10 new clients this month.
I will write 50,000 words.
These goals set us up for feeling like failures because the goal is results oriented instead of action oriented. Better goals require us to take the action that will eventually lead to the result, and we will feel successful along the way.
I will spend five hours a week working on my book.
(It'll get done if we do this, and we won't feel like a failure when the end of the year comes along.)
I will implement my new marking plan and measure progress weekly.
(The new marketing plan will result in new clients, not some random number of clients, but it will allow us to see progress and measure it.)
I will write every day before I go to work.
(You'll write more words than you're currently writing when you try a new writing schedule, and you'll feel like you're succeeding before you see the 50,000 word mark.)
Allow your Vision to Change
Vision is what leads us to be creative anyway. At the start of a business, you might see yourself running a business by yourself. Along the way, you might decide you'd rather not work weekends and you want to hire an employee. If your vision stays stuck as your one-person business dream, you might feel like a failure paying someone to lighten your load.
Give yourself permission to learn, grow and for your initial vision to change. The new vision is probably better.
Many people get stuck when things don't look like they thought they would or when solutions to their real problems feel like failure. Solving a problem that didn't exist in your creative vision isn't failure; it's growth and success.
Let your vision change and continually redefine success when you need to. In one season success might be waking up early every day to hustle, in another it might be not checking your email until noon.