3 limiting beliefs about failure that could be holding you back

3 failure limiting beliefs

“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.” ~ Zig Ziglar


The word alone is enough to put the fear of God into people. No-one wants to fail. No-one wants to be considered a failure.

Failure is one of the biggest fears that holds people back and prevents them from achieving their goals and aspirations. I too am guilty of letting the fear of failure hold me back.

Getting to the root of the fear of failure

The fear of failure is rooted in limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are thoughts about yourself, others or the world around you that prevent you from being your best, and living your best life. They normally exist at a sub-conscious level so more often than not, you are not even aware that they exist.

Limiting beliefs can cause feelings of frustration, procrastination, jealousy and resentment, to name just a few, because they can hold you back from achieving your goals and aspirations. They can also cause low self-esteem and lack of confidence, and often you are not even aware of where the feelings stem from.

I’ve recently reached a milestone in my business which means it’s time to step up. It’s time for me to step into unknown territory and take some risks. My fear of failure has kicked in and at times has paralysed me and triggered a flurry of excuses as to why I can’t move forward – pretty convincing excuses in my opinion too!

Being a coach, and an avid reader of personal development books and blogs, I took a step back to look my fear of failure right between the eyes. Here are 3 limiting beliefs I found staring back at me:

1. I have to know everything before I can get started and actually do something.

2. I have to be perfect. 

3. If I fail at something I set out to do, it means I’m a failure and no-one will ever take me seriously again. 

As you can see, with these thoughts simmering at a sub-conscious level, it’s surprising that I get anything done. Thankfully, making personal development part of my daily life, constantly challenges these thoughts.

If you have a list of things that you would like to accomplish but you can never seem to see them through, or even get started, then it’s possible you also share one or more of these limiting beliefs.

The good news is that the limiting beliefs above are all untrue, therefore they can be overcome. It does take some persistent work, however it’s possible.


Change your thoughts, change your life

I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but it’s true. Your thoughts are powerful, so much so that they have the ability to change your life.

In order to overcome your limiting beliefs about failure, you must start believing something else. You must believe positive thoughts about your success. This will not eliminate your limiting beliefs initially, but it will challenge them and make it more difficult for you to believe them without question.

Here are 3 positive thoughts you can start believing about your success:

1. I have enough knowledge and experience to make a start

No expert was with their knowledge. To be considered an expert, it takes years to acquire information, knowledge and experience. You can start where you are with what you have.

2. Perfection is an illusion and therefore an inaccurate measure of my success. 

They say practice makes perfect, and although perfection is something to strive for, it should not paralyse you and stop you from making progress.

3. If something does not work out the way I plan, it does not mean I have failed or that I am a failure

If you accept the common belief around failure, then every scientist and inventor should be considered a failure. They fail more than they succeed, however they keep going. Imagine how many things we would be without if every scientist and inventor gave up after their first “failure”.

If you are struggling to make progress with your life goals, then take some time to look at your beliefs around failure. Print out the 3 positive thoughts above and put them in a place you will see daily. This will start to actively challenge your limiting beliefs.

Over to you

What are your limiting beliefs about failure?

About Leanne

Freelance blogger, qualified careers adviser, and certified life coach. Passionate about empowering women and young people to create a career & life they love.

2 Thoughts on “3 limiting beliefs about failure that could be holding you back

  1. Delia on at said:

    I’m loving todays blog. It is very relevant to where I am at the moment. I have a job interview in 2 days time and I am afraid of not being good enough since I have not got enough experience in the post I am applying for, but after reading your blog I am feeling much better. Your right in saying that it takes years for someone to become an expert and that you can start where you are and with what you already have. We all have to start somewhere and we are all like scientists. Cheers. x

    • Leanne on at said:

      Hey Delia, how did the interview go? Fingers crossed.

      Absolutely right! If we think of ourselves as scientists, it doesn’t feel so scary to “fail”. I might even buy myself a test tube or something scientific to display to remind myself! 🙂 x

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