2 Fears That Could Be Holding You Back From Success

Jason Daly
6 min readMar 17


Former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said in a speech, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” If you take the statement literally, it doesn’t really make sense because you can’t really be afraid of fear.

What Roosevelt was trying to say is that fear is a crippling emotion that can hold back nations and individuals from achieving greatness. In that sense, the consequences of fear can be terrifying.

Here are a couple of the most common fears and a few tips on how to overcome them.

Fear Of Risk

Risk is related to a perceived loss resulting from an action. Oftentimes, there’s also a potential gain but we tend to magnify the loss while minimizing the gains. The fear of taking risks is a very strong primal fear related to our survival instinct where our prehistoric ancestors were surrounded by peril. Taking risks could mean getting eaten by wild animals or some other horrible death.

This fear remains very strong in us and is the first emotion that overcomes us when we think of taking important action.

How it holds you back

Let’s say you want to start your own business. You have a great idea for a useful product or service that’s scalable. There’s an audience for it and your initial market research tells you it will be in demand. You’re very excited. Then, the fear of risk kicks in and your mind starts bombarding you with ‘what if?’

What if the idea’s not so good after all? What if you take out a loan and can’t repay it? What if the product doesn’t sell? What if the market collapses? What if there’s a nuclear war and you lose everything?

The ‘what if’ questions typically escalate into gloom and doom scenarios until the fear paralyzes you into inaction. Realistically, if there’s a nuclear war, everybody’s going to be out of business, aren’t they? This is how the concept of risk can really play on your fear of loss.

Your fear ends up holding you back from, doing something that can have some real benefits for you. So, you ditch the idea and decide to stay on in a job you hate that’s stifling your potential and ambition. You convince yourself that being miserable is safer than failing miserably!

Now, consider the alternative: you realistically assess the risks involved, plan for them and start your own business. You embark on an exciting journey when you become your own boss, take control of your life, and grow a super successful business. This is just one example of how fear of risk can hold you back from great things.

Action Steps

Highly successful people have a unique mindset. They don’t shy away from risk but rather, they see it as a challenge that can always be overcome, and the reward always outweighs the risk. That’s what makes successful people great! You can develop this mindset and conquer your fear of taking risks with the following strategies:

Assess And Evaluate Risks

Identify your desired outcome. Let’s stick with the example of starting your own business. Realistically and honestly assess the risks related to the outcome.

In this case, they could be using your savings for capital, taking out a loan and changing interest rates or liabilities or hazards related to your product. I would also include the risk of not making any income from the business for a few months until it’s up and running.

Weigh the desired outcome (establishing a successful business) against the risks involved and honestly assess the possibility of these risks really happening. You’ll most likely find that the outcome or goal is worth the risks.

Assessing possible risks and putting them into proportion usually shows you that they’re not as bad as you imagined, not likely to happen or if they do, can be managed.

Plan For Risk

When you’ve identified all the possible risks, create a risk management plan for each one. This will give you tremendous peace of mind and confidence because you’re mentally prepared and your back is covered.

Having a risk management plan or a plan B will arm you with the tools to immediately take action to mitigate or eliminate risks with the least possible losses. Oftentimes, many of the imagined risks never come to pass but having a plan B is one of the most powerful ways to break your fear of risk.

Set Clear Goals

Always define your goal or goals clearly and factor in the potential risks. Include sub-goals of steps you need to take to avoid risk. Your goal map should include benchmarks or timeframes where you stop and assess your progress to ensure that all is on track and to make modifications if something seems to be heading towards a risk.

OK, let’s move onto the second fear that may be holding you back from the success you desire (and deserve).

Fear Of Failure

Failure can have tangible repercussions such as material or financial loss as well as emotional consequences such as the loss of reputation, respect, and self-pride. In most cases, the emotional associations come into play more to hold us back.

Failure is associated with negative qualities like incompetence, inexperience, poor skills, low intelligence, and other qualities that cause emotional distress.

How it holds you back

Quite simply, nobody wants to be regarded as a loser. This is why the fear of failure leads to three negative and debilitating habits:

  • Procrastination
  • Overthinking
  • Inability to make timely decisions

It’s not hard to see how these three habits can hold you back from seizing new opportunities, taking initiatives, and embracing challenges, all of which can help you function at your best and achieve success.

What’s more, the fear of failure saps your self-confidence. The more it keeps you stuck in place, the more you become convinced that you don’t have what it takes to do any better. It’s a vicious and very crippling cycle.

Action Steps

Highly successful people have a unique mindset. Firstly, they don’t acknowledge the word ‘failure’ but rather, refer to it as a setback. Secondly, they see setbacks as challenges that can always be overcome. That’s what makes successful people great! You can develop this mindset and conquer your fear of failure with the following strategies:

Reframe Past Failures

We’re often ashamed of our past failures and avoid reflecting on them. But reframing past failures can decrease your fears. Firstly, remind yourself that you may have made some very big mistakes in the past — but so has everyone else on the planet.

Secondly, reflect on how your mistakes are part of who you are today. For better or worse, they’ve shaped your character and they’ve made you wiser and stronger. Finally, reflect on the lessons learned and how they’ve helped you avoid making the same mistakes again.

Reframe and reflect on your past failures in this way and you’ll begin to see that failure can have a positive effect.

Learn New Skills

These can be skills related to your career, tech skills, or communication and listening skills to improve your relationships, leadership skills and so on. The goal is to give your self-confidence a big boost.

Having a varied toolset of skills and expertise gives you the confidence to be more proactive and eager to take initiatives to improve yourself and your life. This strategy is a huge fear of failure buster.

Reflect On Your Greatness

Reflect on your special skills and talents that make you unique from everyone else. This is a great exercise to engage in when you’re procrastinating or overthinking.

These unique skills would be a great creative mind, powerful analytical skills, great people skills and so on. Celebrate your unique qualities as often as you can because it’s the best way to overcome negative self-talk and tell yourself that you can do anything well if when you put your mind to it.

As you can appreciate, changing the way you think can have a huge impact on your life, and if you want to know more about developing an inspirational mindset for success, please click on the featured resource below for a free Strong Mindset report; download, read it and take action 😊