Four Tips for Beating Procrastination Caused by Fear

I read an interesting article by Gina DeLapa on overcoming procrastination the other day.  You can check it out here.

Members of my career mentoring site know that I believe that procrastination is the physical manifestation of fear.  We put off doing the things that scare us.  Our biggest fears? — failure, criticism and rejection.

Fear is the enemy of self-confidence and success.  Fear often manifests itself as procrastination.  Most people fear failure, criticism and rejection.  It’s only normal.  We all want to feel good about ourselves.  Failure, criticism and rejection are not pleasant experiences.  They lower our self-esteem and make us feel bad about ourselves, so we often avoid doing things that we think might lead to failure, criticism or rejection.  I advise members of my career mentoring site to have the courage to do things that might result in failure, criticism or rejection.

Failure, criticism and rejection provide you with the opportunity to grow and develop – to become a life and career success.  You can’t take failure, criticism and rejection personally.  Failure, criticism and rejection are outcomes.  They are a result of things you have done.  They are not who you are

We all make mistakes and fail on occasion.  We all do things that cause others to criticize or reject us.  This doesn’t mean that we are failures as people.  It means that we have made some poor choices and have done some dumb things.

Failure, criticism and rejection provide the opportunity to start over – hopefully a little smarter.  Buckminster Fuller once said, “Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence of trial and error experience.  Humans have learned only through mistakes.”  That’s great career advice.  I agree with it wholeheartedly.

Fear leads to procrastination.  That’s why putting off things you want to do — and need to do — can really hurt your self-confidence and career success.  If your fear of failure, criticism, and rejection paralyzes you to the point where you aren’t willing to take calculated risks, you’ll never learn anything or accomplish any of your goals.

Don’t be afraid to fail, or too hard on yourself when you fail – or when others criticize or reject you.  Instead, put your energy into figuring out why you failed and then do something different.  Here are my four career success coach questions to ask yourself the next time you fail, or get criticized or rejected.

  1. Why did I fail? Why did I get criticized or rejected?  What did I do to cause the failure, criticism or rejection?
  1. What could I have done to prevent the failure, criticism or rejection?
  1. What have I learned from this situation?
  1. What will I do differently the next time?

If you do this, you’ll be better able to face your fears and act; and you’ll be using failure, criticism and rejection to your advantage.  In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill says, “Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.”

I know it’s hard to see the benefit or opportunity in failure, criticism and rejection.  But it’s there – you just have to look hard enough.  But it all begins by facing your fear and acting; by conquering procrastination.

Your career mentor,


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